Have you ever wondered how much water is used to wash dishes after your meal? 

It’s no surprise that after cooking a big dinner, you feel lazy to do the dishes where dishwashers are used. 

This simple invention saves time and gets the job done faster and more straightforwardly. 

But due to the growing climate change and people who want to have more eco-friendly and sustainable living, dishwashers may not be a solution.

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How much water does a dishwasher use?

Even though dishwashers make work much more accessible, water is also significant. 

Of course, a modern dishwasher with an Energy Star rating will be significantly more efficient than an older machine. 

Dishwashers produced before 1994 can use up to 9-14 gallons of water per load.

However, On average, modern standard-sized dishwashers utilize 3 gallons of water per cycle. 

They are made to only use and heat the exact amount of water required to clean dishes efficiently. 

Hand-washing the same plates might result in up to 13 gallons of water being dumped down the drain!

How new does your dishwasher have to be to save money? New rules were implemented in 2013, requiring dishwashers to use up to 5 gallons per load. 

Units built before 1994, on the other hand, can waste more than 10 gallons of water every shipment.

In addition to this, which one uses more water, a dishwasher or washing by hand?

The built-in dishwasher efficiency is remarkably different, and the average dishwasher consumes 6 gallons of water each cycle. 

In contrast, Energy Star-rated dishwashers utilize 4 gallons, and their energy consumption ranges from 0.87 to 1.59 kWh/load

As per Department of Energy consumption statistics, 1.16 to 2.13 pounds of CO2 and 4 gallons of water are emitted each load.

When calculating how many dishes need to be washed by hand, we’ll use the assumption that each load in a “typical” dishwasher (generally 24 inches in size) has “a capacity of eight place settings and six serving pieces or greater.”

Do dishwashers save water compared to hand washing dishes?

The brief answer to this query is yes (usually). According to a renowned manufacturer, a standard dishwasher uses roughly 9.5 liters of water every wash, but hand cleaning can use up to 60 liters. That’s a significant distinction.

Source: Grist.com

Compared to hand washing dishes, a little math shows that running the dishwasher saves a stunning 85 percent water. 

Dishwashers can save up to 18,000 gallons of water per year compared to hand cleaning. 

How to Maximize the Use of Your Dishwasher?

Maximize the Use of Your Dishwasher
Maximize the Use of Your Dishwasher | Image Credit – Flickr

Maximizing your load size is the most efficient way to utilize your dishwasher. 

If all other conditions are equal, the dishwasher will consume and for a half-full load, use the same amount of water as you would for the best game of dish Tetris you’ve ever played.

So, if you’re willing to put up with it, keep adding dirty dishes to your dishwasher over a few days and wait until the dishwasher is full before starting a load

You can reduce the number of weekly washes to as little as one, saving you money on both electricity and water while also decreasing your environmental effect, depending on the size of your household.

Is it true that dishwashers use less energy than hand washing?

Dishwashers also come out on top when it comes to energy efficiency. Hand washing dishes produce twice the amount of greenhouse gases over ten years than using a dishwasher, according to a recent study from the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. 

The greenhouse gases produced by hand washing dishes are primarily due to the energy required to heat the water; thus, your heating system is a factor.

The limitation is the same for water consumption: contemporary dishwashers are significantly more energy-efficient than older machines.

How to Save Water in the Dishwasher?

Installing an Energy Star-qualified model is, as you might think, the best way to save water without changing your dishwashing habits. 

There are, however, alternative ways to improve the efficiency of both traditional and energy-efficient dishwashers.

Dishwashers should only be operated when they are complete. Take a look at these water and energy-saving ideas:

  1. Make sure it’s correctly loaded to avoid wasting water on ineffective loads.
  2. Skip the pre-rinse: Scrape away the significant bits of food, and current dishwashers will handle the rest. According to Lowe’s, omitting the rinse will save 55,000 gallons of water throughout the appliance’s lifetime.
  3. Keep your appliance in good working order: Although it may seem paradoxical, you should clean your dishwasher once a month.
  4. Recognize the simple solutions.

Here’s how to fix common dishwasher issues, so you don’t have to do the dishes by hand – and wastewater in the process.

While these steps can assist increase the efficiency of your dishwasher, you can do one more thing to safeguard it. 

With an appliance home warranty, you can be ready for unforeseen breakdowns and repairs in advance.

Is it ever better to wash your hands?

So far, the dishwasher has performed admirably, but keep in mind that some items aren’t dishwasher safe, so don’t throw away those rubber gloves just yet. 

Most cookware, crockery, and cutlery you buy these days will be dishwasher safe, as indicated by the dishwashing symbol on them (or on their box). 

However, if you have any questions, you should contact the dishwasher’s manufacturer.

Can hand washing be as efficient as dishwashing?

A woman washes dishes using soapy water
A woman washes dishes using soapy water | Image Credit – CTV News

It’s feasible to put it that way. Let’s start with water consumption to wash and rinse eight place settings — plates, bowls, forks, knives, spoons, glasses, etc. 

It’s preferable to wash the six serving dishes by hand rather than using a dishwasher, which can’t handle running the tap for more than two minutes at a time.

If you’re cleaning 54 pieces of dishware (48 pieces — 6 pieces each set — plus six service dishes), you’ll need around 4.4 seconds of wide-open tap water per piece, or about 9.5 ounces of water.

As a general practice, the following items are not suitable for a dishwasher:

  1. Plastics of particular types: Always look for the dishwasher symbol on plastic objects.
  2. Pans made of cast iron will rust if they aren’t covered.
  3. Spoons antique china: the hot water may cause them to fade 
  4. sharp knives: your knives will dull faster in the dishwasher, so it’s still best to hand wash them 
  5. wooden spoons: In the dishwasher, wood will swell and eventually break, while aluminum pans will react with the washing solution and discolor.

Wrapping up

So long as you don’t run your dishwasher while it’s only half full of dirty dishes, or unless you’re incredibly water-conscious (or have an old, inefficient dishwasher), the automatic dishwasher is likely to be more efficient. 

To put it another way, a dishwasher can save you water and energy, but it’s not easy. Of course, if you do it well, it could be a better wash.

(Last Updated on April 26, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Thinley Doma Ghale holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Kathmandu University. She enjoys writing articles on climate change animals and loves to travel and experience new ideas, places, meeting people, and learning from them. As a social science student, research has always been her area of interest.