To Use a Dishwasher – or Not to Use a Dishwasher…

In terms of cost (both financial and to the environment) is it better to use a dishwasher or to hand wash our pots and plates?

On the surface it would seem that hand washing would be more energy efficient surely since there’s no need to switch on an electric appliance. But don’t be too sure… many surveys have been done which show that, depending on what type of heating you have in your home ie gas or electric, at times there’s not much in it.

And bear in mind too that the efficiency of dishwashers has come on leaps and bounds, especially within the past decade or so. In the 90s, for instance, a typical dishwasher programme would use around 13 gallons of water; today your average dishwasher uses four.

Why using a dishwasher is as energy efficient as washing by hand

Like cleaning your teeth, do you sometimes leave the tap running in between brushes? If so, chances are you do the same when washing the dishes, leading to more hot water being used than is necessary. This is where the cost adds up, say scientists, and why if you use a dishwasher rather than hand wash you’ll be better off financially.

Use a dishwasher or hand wash? Advantages of the former

  • Hygiene. Dishwashers are up to 400 per cent more hygienic than washing by hand (ie there is less bacteria and other ‘nasties’ left on the plate
  • Time. It takes far longer to stand at a sink and wash dishes than it does to load a dishwasher (up to four times as long say researchers)

How to cut your eco footprint even more using a dishwasher

  • Use the dishwasher at night (1am to 5am). By doing so you’ll be taking advantage of the low tariff which means your utility bill won’t cost as much. Incidentally you can set the timer – you don’t actually have to get up in the middle of the night.
  • Load up fully. Never use the dishwasher when it’s only half empty. That’s just a waste of electricity.
  • Use the eco programme. Most machines have one of these. It works by heating the water up slowly over a far longer time than a normal cycle would. In doing so it saves energy (up to 20 percent say some surveys). Newer machines will even recycle the water.

So there you have it – these days it seems the answer to the question about whether to use a dishwasher or hand wash is that it’s probably far more economical and eco-friendly to use the former. And it’s definitely better for your hands.

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