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Handwashing vs Dishwasher

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5:38 am
June 26, 2009



posts 456

Can I save more energy by handwashing the dishes after every meal or by stacking up the dishwasher and then doing one dishwashing cycle per day? 

6:04 am
April 12, 2010

John Symond


posts 70

That's a tricky question Marea. 

I was going to say "it's a no-brainer. Hand-washing of course!"

Then I thought, "Oh! This must be about washing dishes in hot water!", which I only do if unavoidable. 

Then it is harder to figure out. Energy is used by the dishwasher but a fully loaded dishwasher probably uses less hot water than numerous hand-washing sessions. 

Even then – how careful are you with the quantity of hot water used when hand-washing?

My verdict: this is a topic for a PhD thesis. 

My advice: hand-wash in cold water if that is adequate. If not, hand-wash in the least amount of hot water possible. Sell the dishwasher on eBay. Wink

8:11 pm
April 12, 2010



posts 36

I have looked into this, and found a really interesting magazine called 'Go Green and Save money' which had an article about dishwashers.

It is definatly saving more water to fill up a dishwasher and do one load, then to hand wash after each meal. Research has found that most modern dishwashers use as little as 10 litres of water per wash, which is up to six times less than the average person uses to wash the same amount in the sink. These figures ofcourse change when there is a much older, non energy efficient dishwasher in use.

Some simple steps that you can take to get the best use out of your dishwasher and to save water are:

-Make sure the dishwasher is completely full, because the dishwasher uses the exact same amount of energy to run a full load as it does a half load.

-Dont rinse your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher.(unless ofcourse they are really dirty and require a bit of a scrub) Independant tests demonstrate that there is little difference in the final levels of cleaning between pre-washed and un-washed dishes.

-Scrape of any larger chuncks of food off the dishes, or maybe give them a wipe with paper towl rather then water.

- Set your temperature of the cycle to 'low'

-Make sure you reguarily clean out your dishwashers filter. It helps your machine run at maximum efficiency, getting more dishes clean for less energy.

For a list of the most energy efficient dishwashers out there, go to http://www.energyrating.gov.au

Hope this has helped.

10:34 pm
August 4, 2010



I was also thinking that a good energy efficient dishwasher would save more water with a full load, but the question I have is:

the dishwasher is also using electricity, is that calculated with energy efficiency ratings as opposed to just the amount of water used?

9:05 pm
August 17, 2010

John Symond


posts 70

Post edited 2:08 am – August 18, 2010 by John Symond

Coming back to the debate…  

Of course electricity is another input. First save the embedded energy in a dishwasher by not having one. Second, you are not using electricity to wash dishes. 

Then do as much cooking as possible by steaming and boiling. You will find that these dishes and cooking utensils can be rinsed clean in cold water. There is often an added health benefit. 

If you fry, bake or use oil, you will either need a detergent or hot water, but not necessarily both. Don't let the dishes dry out, begin soaking them immediately. 

Do you need to fill a basin with water? Maybe not. Try filling your largest container used, such as a bowl or cooking pot, with hot water. Slush it around to get most of it clean, then pour the water into the next largest container. Finish off the largest container and stack it. Do all the cutlery and small items using the water in the next full container. Then work down the line into smaller and smaller containers and crockery until you're done. The dishes will stack better too, if you work from largest to smallest. 

I have never owned a dishwasher. Cool

2:18 am
November 18, 2010



posts 4

smart question and had a good discussion… after reading this thread, i'm planning of going handwashing… well, our dishwasher is kind of not working well now so better switch back to the handwash to save energy.

7:55 pm
December 1, 2010



posts 36

did you know.. that a really simple way to easily clean dirty and stained roist dishes, is by adding a splash of washing up liquid into about a centimetre of cold water, then simmering on the stove for a while before rinsing or cleaning.

10:05 pm
January 9, 2013



posts 263

does it really make such a difference either way? Sometimes I worry that we worry Frown too much about all the little things. Some of us have gone through stages of stressing to make sure we don't overfill our kettles because that will cause extra pollution. We really need to cut ourselves some slack …

Maybe one or the other is more 'sustainable' for each of us as individuals? I like the statement from 'admin' about not rinsing. I hate being at people's places where you have to rinse everything before you load the dishes, for me I think that it would be faster just to handwash. I handwash and air dry because I hate loading and unloading dishwashers.

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