The choice between washing dishes by hand or by machine is more emotionally charged than most debates on household chores. There’s no shortage of bloggers who contest the John-Henry studies that conclude the machine wins.
These hand-washers tout their superior methods for washing that include dry pre-cleaning and using filled basins for washing and rinsing rather than working under a stream of running water, which uses about 2 gallons of water per minute. They’re unconvinced of the power of the new machines.
Perhaps our prejudices harken back to pre-Energy Star days when noisy, Hulk-like dishwashers used 11 to 15 gallons of water per load. However, when compared to today’s most efficient dishwashers, which use as little as 3.18 gallons of water (an average machine uses about 6) and 1 kWh of electricity per load (average range is 1.59 to .87), it’s hard to see you beating the performance of these machine, unless of course it’s older than the hills.
According to a study from Bonn University, dishwashers in general use half of the energy and a sixth the water used for washing dishes by hand. The study also rated the quality of the wash and found machines get dishes cleaner as well. Of course these machines are most efficient when run with full loads and dishes are air dried.
And no worries about the phosphorous levels in dishwasher soaps. Natural soaps are now available and work as well as the leading brands.
So I say relax, and let the machine do it. Spend your time and energy watching some TV (oops, that uses electric). Better yet, reading a book . . . by candlelight. -CL-
Matt Lillard is sustainability consultant living in Chester County. Contact Matt at Matt@Lillards.com.
For Greener Dishwashing:
• Scrape, don’t pre-rinse.
• Use the “light” not “normal” cycle for your dishwasher.
• Use phosphate-free detergents.
• Always air-dry.
• Always wash a full load.
• Place dishwashers away from refrigerators.
• Replace old dishwashers with the best new Energy-Savers.