How safe and eco-friendly are dishwashers?

Dishwasher vs Hand-washing

Being an adult comes with certain benefits. While we get to pick our own dinner, we’re also liable to pay huge taxes for small freedoms, and we aren’t just referring to the monetary ones. Even though we can gorge on spaghetti for dinner multiple times a week, we also have to do the dishes! And, washing the grime off your plates is the last thing you want to do after a looooong day at work. So, it’s definitely tempting to invest in a dishwasher and cut your hands some slack. But, how eco-friendly are dishwashers? We decided to find out for you. Scroll down to read our verdict.

Handwashing vs using the Dishwasher- What’s more eco-friendly?

Unfortunately, like most adult problems, there is no straight answer to that question. But, we do have some facts which can help you make your decision.

Fact 1: Hand washing your dishes uses more water

Does dishwasher save water? Yes! Shocking right? But, washing dishes by hand tends to consume almost six times more water than running the dishwasher. Blame it on the music you’re playing on loop while doing the dishes, your inner Monica who likes spotless plates, or the habit of leaving your tap running as you attempt to get dinner out of your bowls.

How safe and eco-friendly are dishwashers

Fact 2: Dishwashers draw more electricity

Dishwashers, while magical, are electrical machines at the end of the day. They draw upwards of 0.95 kilowatts of electricity with every cycle. That’s almost twelve times as much as a fan draws in an hour! So they might save your biceps some cardio, but they definitely shoot up the electricity bill. Let’s break that down for you. In the scenario where you run the dishwasher twice a day for a month, your dishwasher alone consumes around 684 rupees of electricity! (1kwh = Rs 12)

Fact 3: Dishwashers are more time efficient

While running the dishwasher does take time— on average each cycle takes about 1-2 hours— it’s more time efficient than hand washing your dishes, since you can just load up your dirty dishes and move on to other chores. On the other hand, you're tied to the sink for an hour if you're hand washing your dishes, and can only get that task done.

Fact 4: Hand washing your dishes is cheaper

If we run the numbers for dishwasher vs hand washing costs, hand washing your dishes is more cost efficient. Apart from paying for access to water, you only have to pitch in for sponges, dishwashing liquid/ soap, drying towels or a drying rack. That’s definitely easier on the pocket in comparison to the investment costs of purchasing, maintaining and using a dishwasher.

What’s the verdict?

If you’ve been keeping score, it’s 2:2. While dishwashers draw more electricity and can be a tad bit more expensive, hand washing your dishes uses more water and requires more of your time. Both have an equitable impact on the environment. So, at the end of the day or shall we say meal, the choice between them depends on you and your lifestyle.

If you live independently and don’t have many dirty dishes to begin with, investing in a dishwasher doesn’t make sense. However, in that case you should consider making small tweaks in your cleaning routine to make hand washing dishes more eco-friendly.

Tweak 1: Don’t leave the tap running when you’re scrubbing your dishes. Instead, wet your sponge, scrub all the dishes together and then rinse them quickly.

Pro tip: Wash your dishes right away. Your laziness will run the rivers dry, because stains which set in require more water to scrub them away.

Tweak 2: Opt to use cold water rather than heated water to wash your dishes to save some electricity.

Tweak 3: Use Born Good’s eco-friendly, non-toxic dishwashing liquid gel. This makes sure that no chemicals drain down your pipe and into the river.

Alternatively, if you’re pressed for time and are responsible for cleaning dishes for a big household, dishwashers are life savers! Arguably, they’re also more efficient than hand washing dishes. However, when used incorrectly, dishwashers can have a negative impact on the environment. Here are a few tips to make your dishwashers more eco-friendly.

How can you reduce the environmental impact of your dishwasher?

1. Search for features like “Soil Sensor” or “Special Zones” while purchasing your dishwasher. These features optimize the water and cleanser disbursal in accordance with the dirt acquired by specific dishes. ‘Soil Sensor’ automatically detects spots which require extra cleaning and accordingly directs water and cleaner to that spot. Similarly ‘Special Zones’ allows you to place the dirtiest utensils in designated areas for targeted cleaning.

2. Choose to run your machine only when it is fully loaded. Yes, dishwashers do save water. However, settings like half loads, while seemingly resource efficient, consume an extra 8 liters of water. Furthermore, you should also make sure to stack your dishes correctly within the machine to optimize the water disbursal.

3. Repurpose the water from your dishwasher to water your indoor plants or garden.

P.S Make sure you use plant based or organic dishwashing powders while running the cycle, so that your plants don’t imbibe the remnant toxins from conventional chemical dishwashing cleaners.

4. Scrape before you stack. By sweeping off leftover food from your dishes into the compost, before loading them into the dishwasher, you can prevent potential clogging and excess energy consumption.

5. Lastly, ditch the dry cycle and opt to air-dry your dishes.

Congratulations! You’re now a pro dishwasher. At least in theory. Don’t worry, we’re not trying to make an android out of you. However, we do want to leave you with the most important tip of all. Take your time and be mindful about those “pesky chores”. It doesn’t matter if you’re loading the dishes into the dishwasher or scrubbing the grime yourself. Focus on just getting the task done. Keep the rest of your to-do list out of your mind. You will be surprised how much this helps you declutter your mind of worries and be present in the mundane moment.

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