Stop Hand-Washing Your Dishes

The list of historic face-offs is long and storied. Batman vs. Superman, King Kong vs. Godzilla, dishwashing vs. hand-washing. Okay, maybe that last one isn’t quite as action-packed as the others, but people still have strong opinions about who should win. Many people hand-wash dishes, even though there’s a perfectly good dishwasher available. The reason is often because the modern convenience seems optional and wasteful. After all, dishwashers require lots of water and energy to run, so why not just wash the dishes yourself and feel good about helping the planet and your utility bills? Actually, this is the one time when the easier alternative is actually the better one. There’s a common misconception that the dishwasher fills up with water, and that’s a waste. In reality, certified dishwashers use less than 4 gallons of water per cycle compared to hand-washing, which can use 4 gallons of water every 2 minutes. Today’s dishwashers do a great job of cleaning dishes, while only using 3-5 gallons of water to clean an entire load. Much of the energy-saving is thanks to advances made in dishwasher technology over the last decade. A standard Energy Star certified dishwasher saves around 3,870 gallons of water over its lifetime. Plus, it only costs an average of $35 a year to operate. Efficient faucets only use around 1½ gallons per minute. Even if you’re super-fast, there’s no way you can wash the equivalent of a dishwasher full of dirty dishes in under 3 minutes. If you leave the water running while washing your dishes, you could easily consume over 20 gallons of water to clean a day’s dishes. So, 20+ gallons while hand-washing vs. 4 (or less) using the dishwasher? That's a pretty significant difference.