Why You Should Stop Washing Dishes By Hand

Ah, the trusty dishwasher. A gadget that’s becoming a staple kitchen appliance in many modern households. It’s hard to deny that dishwashers are much more convenient than physically washing up dishes, and much quicker, too.

Many people are put off buying dishwashers for many reasons; they might feel like they’re much less sustainable than hand washing, or they might be deterred by the higher price, and some people simply feel like they’re unnecessary.

However, dishwashers have been shown to actually save energy, water and even money over time. “How?” I hear you ask. Well, this article will explain how and why you might benefit more by using a dishwasher than wasting time, energy, money and water by slaving over the sink at least once a day.

Stop Washing Dishes By Hand

Think you’re saving water by washing up by hand? Think again.

Contrary to belief, dishwashers don’t use as much water as you might think, especially if you compare your usage over time to the amount you’d normally wash by hand.

In bigger households in particular, you’d probably have to wash up more than once a day in order to maintain an effective system, compared to the dishwasher which would likely only require one big load at the end of the day.

Of course, you could do one big wash up at the end of the day, but the dirty dishes would begin to pile up and form an untidy mess, whereas if you just put the dishes in the dishwasher throughout the day, they’re stored away and don’t form a mess. Also, one big wash up at the end of the day is actually more likely to use the same amount of water as is used in the dishwasher anyway.

Furthermore, a lot of people pre-rinse their dishes before loading the dishwasher, and this creates an ongoing stream of water which isn’t always in use when you’re actually putting the dishes in the dishwasher.


Do you pre-rinse your dishes before loading the dishwasher?

Many people fall into the habit of rinsing their dishes before loading them into the dishwasher. It doesn’t make much sense, but a lot of us are guilty of it. Perhaps it’s because we’re worried about clogging up the dishwasher with excess food remnants, or we underestimate the power of the dishwasher, but it isn’t necessary.

According to Consumer Reports, pre-rinsing our dishes before putting them in the dishwasher is unnecessary, and actually wastes a lot more water than we might think. They say that “pre-rinsing your dishes in the sink can easily waste more than 6,000 gallons of water per household each year” and that we should “let the dishwasher do its job”.


Which actually cleans dishes the best: dishwashers or hand washing?

There’s a reason dishwashers are so highly praised, and it’s because of their hot temperature. Sure, you could scold yourself by running the hot tap for ages, but even this is unlikely to be enough to effectively clean your dishes and remove all of the germs.

Water needs to be at least 145˚F (63˚C) in order to properly clean all germs, and this isn’t achieved by tap water like it is with dishwashers. It generally costs more to have such high temperature settings, and it can be dangerous when the water is that hot, plus it’s just unnecessary.

handwashing vs dishwasher

Think dishwashers are too expensive?

Some people are put off by purchasing a dishwasher because of its price tag. Dishwashers may seem like an expensive gadget to buy at the time, but if you think in the long-term, they may not be as expensive as you might think.

You can buy energy-efficient dishwashers which are generally cheaper to run than older style dishwashers, and they’re also less costly than washing up by hand. You can tell if a dishwasher is energy-efficient because it will be ‘Energy-Star-certified’.

Compared to washing up by hand, energy-efficient dishwashers can save you at least $40 each year on utilities, especially as you won’t need to buy washing up liquid, sponges and brushes.

Older makes of dishwasher can be more expensive in terms of its utilities, but more modern styles which are Energy Star-certified, you could end up saving $35 each year from your electricity bill.

water consumption chart

Have you thought about the germs coating your sponges and washing up brushes?

With washing dishes by hand comes the equipment and products that go with it. When we’re washing up by hand we don’t think that the sponges and brushes used to clean the dishes could possibly be dirty.

Well, that’s where we’re wrong. Research conducted at the University of Arizona indicates that these products are actually 200,000 times dirtier than your toilet seat, as they found that every square inch of our washing up sponges contains roughly 10 million bacteria, such as cold and flu germs and food-borne illnesses.


Sure, there are ways of deep-cleaning our sponges and brushes, but when you’re using them to clean every day, you’d have to be cleaning them just as regularly. It would also end up costing as much as a dishwasher itself to keep replacing them, not to mention how wasteful this would be.

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