What Saves More Water – Dishwasher or Hand Washing?

Dishwasher or Hand Washing

Today, there’s a common debate among many people—what saves more water between dishwasher and handwashing?

Some people argue that handwashing saves more water than when using a dishwasher—but is that true? Today, everybody is more focused on reducing their water consumption. Certain activities like taking shorter showers, using water-efficient washing machines, or allowing their lawns to go green have become very common.

However, some people make the mistake of replacing their dishwasher with handwashing, and they believe that it can save more water. However, you should reconsider this decision, especially if you have already given up your dishwasher to handwashing.

What you should understand is dishwashers, especially modern models are more efficient than hand washing. A study conducted by the University of Bonn revealed that a fully loaded dishwasher needs an average of 13 liters to clean 130 – 144 items. You will require around 100 liters of water to clean the same load via handwashing.

However, you should understand that the results indicate the average water consumption of both methods. The actual water consumption ranged from 33 to 440 liters in the research. What Saves More Water – Dishwasher or Hand Washing?-

How Much Water Do You Use By Handwashing?

Maybe you still don’t believe that a dishwasher saves more water than hand washing. So, let’s see how much water you can use when hand washing your utensils—and we shall start with a sink. A standard sink in our homes ranges from 15 – 45 liters.

Now, let’s think about how much water you need when washing your utensils with handwashing. Experts from Jacksonville Appliance Repair share that if we use the average 140 items—just like the dishwasher, you will fill your sink with two-thirds or half of water—that’s an average of 15 – 20 liters. Now, what you don’t realize is that’s more than a typical dishwasher uses.

However, let’s say that you had a dinner party, and a full load of dirty plates, glasses, pans, and pots. Now, you will realize that you will change the water at least two times when cleaning the utensils. At the end of the day, you might end up using an average of 40 – 60 liters to clean that load.

Besides, you can still reduce water usage by pre-rinsing the dishes first. But, don’t rinse the dishes under running water as this will increase the water consumption significantly. In case your kitchen has two sinks, consider filling one sink, and then dunk your dishes first before washing them.

Therefore we can agree that a dishwasher saves more water than hand washing. This, however, seems like a hard thing for people without dishwashers since they have been spending a lot of water when cleaning their dishes. What you don’t know is, you can still save a lot of water when cleaning your dishes, but you don’t have a dishwasher.

Ways You Can Save Water If You Don’t Own a Dishwasher

Allow your dishes to pile up

Most people don’t like the sight of dirty dishes in their sink. What they do is, clean their dishes the moment they are done with using them. However, there is one secret that most people don’t understand—cleaning your dishes a number of times in a day wastes water.

Therefore, the best thing to do is to allow the dishes to pile up in the sink and then wash them at once. This does not only save you water, but it also saves you valuable time. The best time to clean your dishes is in the evening, after dinner to avoid pests like cockroaches from infesting your kitchen.

If you have a large sink in your kitchen, consider using a bucket

In case your kitchen is fitted with a large sink, using it to clean your dishes can waste a lot of water. To save water, consider using a bucket or a tub to clean when cleaning your dishes. A pan can also work in this situation.

When using a bucket, consider putting one in the sink to get some cold water as you wait for the hot water to flow. You can use the cold water for drinking or cleaning other areas of your home—this is a good way of saving water.

Don’t worry about the final rinse

Most people feel like failing to rinse their dishes is a great mistake. However, you don’t have to rinse them—even though it’s not as pleasing as it sounds. The dishwashing liquids that we use at our home are not toxic. Therefore, it’s very OK not to rinse the soap off the dishes once you finish cleaning them—just put them in the rack to dry.

However, if you have a problem with that, just use the cold water that you saved when waiting for the hot water to flow.

Additional tips and tricks

  • Turn down your water tap – this allows you to regulate the water you are using, as you are keen on how the water flows out of the tap. The slower the water flows, the more water you save. This works great if you opt for low-flow rinse water.
  • Clean your dishes from the cleanest to the dirtiest – order matters when cleaning your dishes. The following suggested order can work best: first, start with your drinking glasses, followed by cups/mugs, knives, plates and bowls, and then cutlery. When done with these, it’s the time to clean your utensils, pans/pots, as well as casserole dishes. You don’t need to follow this order, but you can consider coming up with your order. The thing is, start with the cleanest to the dirtiest. Moreover, make sure that you capture the soapy water in some of the dirty utensils, as this allows them to soak as you clean the rest of the utensils.
  • Avoid filling your sink with water when cleaning your dishes – what you need is a few inches of hot water, as well as a few suds when cleaning the dishes. Moreover, the hotter the water you use, the better. If you are not comfortable with hot water, use gloves as they will protect your hands—and this will make sure that you clean your dishes thoroughly.
  • Use the dirty water in your garden – this works great when you use a tub or bucket to clean your dishes. You shouldn’t waste this water as it can help in keeping your lawn or garden green. When you do that, you will realize that your plants stay healthy—and you don’t need hose watering, which can be restricted during water shortages. However, if you choose to water your garden with dirty kitchen water, use safe detergent when cleaning your dishes to avoid killing the plants in your garden.
  • Scrape your dishes first – this ensures that the food doesn’t dry on the dishes. The best way to do this is to use a silicone spatula, and you should do it immediately after meals. Scraping off the food makes it easier to clean your dishes, and it also helps in saving water. In case you realize that the plates have dried off before scraping off the food, just soak them in the pre-rinse water first. This will make it easier for you to scrape off the food.

There are certain dishwashers that waste water despite the above statistics. If you own such a dishwasher, it’s best to consult your appliance repair specialists. Probably, your dishwasher is defective, and it needs some professional care for it to help you save water when cleaning your dishes.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here