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Dishwasher vs. Hand Washing

Published on April 3rd 2017 by under Green Living Ideas

“Making mistakes in centuries and generations past would have consequences that we could overcome. We don’t have that luxury anymore.”- Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth (A documentary about global warming)

Today, going green is no longer just an option for us, it’s a necessity. When it comes to your individual daily actions and their effects on the environment, the question whether hand washing your dishes is better than using a dishwasher is getting plenty of limelight these days.

Determining Factors in the Dishwasher vs. Hand Washing Debate

  • The model type of your dishwasher
  • The number of dishes to be cleaned
  • Whether or not you need to heat the water
  • The amount of soap used
  • The energy star rating (if any) of the machine
  • The type of wash cycle
  • Your method of washing dishes by hand

Dishwasher vs Hand Washing

Is a Dishwasher Better than Hand Washing



Hand Washing

1. Which cleans better

  • Comparatively less thorough cleaning in corners and folds in utensils
  • Kills germs better as it can run water at 140°F
  • Efficient, detailed cleaning
  • Humans can’t bear to be in contact with water at 140°F for any length of time to wash dishes

2. Which is cheaper

  • High-efficiency washers consume less electricity, water, and detergent, therefore, reducing the cost. Old machines are not so pocket-friendly
  • Less cost effective for small loads as it exhausts the same amounts of water and energy as a big load
  • The use of hot water for all cycles consumes more energy, and is, therefore, more expensive
  • The ‘heated drying’ setting increases expenditure
  • Depends on individual employment of resources and detergent
  • According to research, hand washing demands more water, electricity, and detergent in comparison
  • Depends on whether hot water is used or not, as it would cost more

3. Which is more eco-friendly

  • Consumes the same energy and water irrespective of load size
  • Large models consume more resources than small ones
  • Energy-star rated models consume up to 30% less electricity, but older washers are not so sustainable
  • Employment of hot water is more energy-consuming
  • Use of ‘heated drying’ uses a lot of energy
  • Water, energy and soap use can be controlled depending on load size
  • Depends on whether  resources are wasted or not (like leaving the tap open while washing)
  • Depends on whether hot water is used or not

4. Which takes less time

  • Requires the same time for both big and small loads
  • New models run longer compared to older models
  • Depends on the settings/wash cycle chosen
  • Depends on one’s cleaning speed and load size

Video: How Does a Dishwasher Work

For a better idea of how the dishwashing process actually works, here’s a peek inside a dishwasher:

Scientific Evidence in Favor of Dishwashers

  • According to the Energy Star program of the Environmental Protection Agency, machine dishwashing can help you save 5,000 gallons of water, ultimately sparing you from $50 worth of annual utility charges.
  • As per a study by the University of Bonn in Germany, a dishwasher requires merely one-sixth of the water, half the power, and comparatively much less soap than hand-washing dishes.
  • A European study that compared manual dish washing to machine washing discovered that hand washing used a staggering 27 gallons of water and 2.5 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy to wash 12 place settings, while a machine consumed 4 gallons of water and 1.5 kWh to wash the same amount of dishes.

Evidently, the competition between a dishwasher and hand washing regarding their overall productivity, particularly their repercussions on the environment, is neck and neck. Either way, the less strategically you use all your resources, the greater your carbon footprint. Thus, a calculated analysis and comprehension of both the washing methods are imperative before you decide to make the jump.

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