Can you wash 8 full place settings of dishes with only 2 minutes of running water?
We were recently inspired to reconsider our dishwashing practices by an article in The Washington Post entitled, “Why you shouldn’t wash your dishes by hand”. The article challenges a common perception that hand washing saves energy and water.
Here’s the big picture:
- modern dishwashers are optimized for efficient water and energy use
- are able to save 230 hrs (10 days) annually that would otherwise be spent hand washing
- are very effective at cleaning
- are able to sanitize dishes with 140 degree water
“Scrape, Don’t Rinse”
According to the article, the most egregious water waste commonly occurs when dishes are pre-rinsed with continually running water before they go into a dishwasher. Modern dishwashers are more than capable of cleaning residue on eating-ware, so simply scraping dishes can adequately prepare them for washing.
If the article’s recommendations aren’t enough to convince you, it provides a number of other consumer and efficiency-minded organizations that have also weighed in on the scraping-versus-rinsing debate and the role of the modern efficient dishwasher:
- Consumer Reports
- ENERGY STAR
- American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) Smarterhouse.org
The Clear Loser: Old Dishwashers
The Post concedes that while the most frugal and strategic of hand washers might be able to compete with modern dishwashers, older models finish last place concerning energy and water efficiency. Combine an inefficient dishwashing machine with in-sink pre-rinsing, and the problem is compounded.
The Natural Resources Defense Council reports that a dishwasher from 1991 uses up to 3-5 times more water and 1-2 times more energy than modern efficient models. Paired with an estimated 20 gallons of water wasted annually from pre-rinsing, an appliance update starts looking worthwhile.
Update and Save Energy, Water, Effort, and Money
Even if you don’t agree that it’s better to use a modern dishwasher than to hand wash, the main takeaway should be that an old dishwasher is costly. Like most energy efficiency measures, an investment in an ENERGY STAR certified machine pays back through energy, water, and time savings.
ENERGY STAR has an array of resources on its website that provide a potential buyer with everything they need to make a wise purchase:
- Benefits, Specifications, and Best Practices of ENERGY STAR dishwashers
- Comparisons of ENERGY STAR certified dishwashers
- Finding the nearest store
- Similar information about other ENERGY STAR appliances, building products, electronics, heating and cooling equipment, lighting and fans, office equipment, pool pumps, and water heaters
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact us either online, or by phone (513-621-4232), and we will be happy to talk with you.