It is a common practice in many homes to – after a meal – wash the dishes by hand to get all the grime off of them. For many of us, hand cleaning just feels better and that can be a very personal feeling, hard to let go of. The problem however is, a diverse group of expert organizations (among them Energy Star Program, Consumer Reports and American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy) suggest that in most cases it is more beneficial to let the dishwasher do its job.
Does Handwashing Get The Dishes Completely Clean?
In order for most of the bacteria on dirty dishes to be fully destroyed, the water temperature must reach a scalding of 140 degrees (According to Kelly Reynolds, University of Arizona Tuscon). That range of temperature can only be reached in a dishwasher, but not in a sink. Hot water heaters are usually set at 120 degrees for hand users in order to prevent burns. Naturally most people cannot withstand keeping their hands in a stream of hot water for more than a couple of minutes. So in other words, cleaning dishes with hands tends to be less effective and therefore high-tech tends to beat low-tech.
What about Energy Efficiency?
From an environmental perspective the basic line is that these machines have grown so energy- (and water-) efficient especially if you go for Energy Star certified models. Such level of reliability in saving energy is very hard to beat through hand washing (though you should scrape off any food before loading the dishes inside the washer, and you should always run fully loaded dishwasher). There are several reasons for this, and they include the fact that dishwashing machines consume less power and water because of improved appliance standards.
What Studies Say?
According to a previous report by the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy, when used to optimize energy-saving features, hi-tech dishwashers can beat all but the most frugal hand-washers. In fact it has been shown that an average person who washes dishes by hand uses over 27 gallons of water along with 2.5 KW hours of power to clean up a sink full of dishes. A normal dishwasher consumes less than 6 gallons of water and much less than 2 KW hours for the same load of dishes using the short wash cycle.
Which Option Saves More Time?
According to consumer reports, it only takes 9 minutes to go through the full dishwasher cycle while hand washing the same quantity of dishes takes up an labor-intensive 60 minutes (According to Intertek Laboratory). Based on daily use of a fully loaded dishwasher, it is clear that modern technology can save you up to four hours a week – which is a significant chunk of time that can be used for other tasks.
Clearly, using a dishwasher not only takes away the drudgery of hand-washing, but it also saves water, energy, time and money. Moreover, it keeps counters clutter-free, creates less of environment impact and it tends to be more sanitary. Above all, fewer dishes are damaged in the dishwasher than when one washes them by hand.