Dishwasher vs Washing Up: the great debate about cleaning your plates
What’s really the most eco-friendly way to get your dishes washed?
It’s a (surprisingly) interesting debate and one that we have had many times at Homethings HQ, as well as with passionate pot-washers on the internet.
You’d be tempted to believe that washing things up by hand is, hands down, the most sustainable – as is often the assumption with “the way things were” and going back to basics. So you might be surprised to discover that, in many scenarios, using a dishwasher actually comes out on top in terms of being more economical and environmentally friendly. The more you know.
Let’s get the lowdown.
Dishwashers often have a bad rep in eco spaces for being a waste of water and energy. They’re also a must-have appliance for many modern households, especially those with large or busy families. Heck, most of us daren’t imagine actually getting our hands wet and covered in grease, unless it’s for that annoyingly fragile wine glass or non-stick dish for your pasta bake.
But are dishwashers really the divider between what makes someone truly eco-conscious, or have people been giving technology a bad rep for no real reason other than suspicion? Actually, Black Mirror probably hasn’t helped.
Homethings' response to the claim that washing your dishes by hand can save the planet.
According to the tried and tested team over at Which?, dishwashers “are, on average, four times more efficient than washing by hand, per place setting” and that “even the least efficient dishwasher can wash twice as many dishes using the same water” used as washing by hand.
Sounds pretty impressive. Actually, it’s the definition of working smarter, not harder. Especially when you take into consideration that the tests carried out looked at dishwashers across an entire spectrum, ranging from energy efficient models to their thirsty slimline counterparts.
Both types of machines perform more “sustainably” in terms of water usage versus washing up by hand. So it’s 1-0 to the robots. Ouch.
Some people *really* don't like dishwashers, do they? They aren't robots coming for our jobs (unless you're a pot-washer...).
But what about the carbon footprint?
Dishwashers use less water, and less energy to heat the water than washing by hand, which makes the carbon footprint of a dishwasher much lower than its manual alternative.
Even more interestingly, an article written by Ovo Energy reports that recent studies reveal “5,620kg of greenhouse gases (GHGs) are produced over a ten year period from hand washing 32 sets of dishes per week. This comes from the energy used to heat up the water.
“A dishwasher, on the other hand, emits 2,090kg of GHGs over the same period. The figures speak for themselves, hand-washing creates over double the amount of GHGs as dishwashers and creates about the same carbon emissions as 3 flights from London to Tokyo.” That’s over 14 hours of flying! In that time, you could literally watch all of the Lord of the Rings films and get a 2-hour shut-eye (because priorities).
So there you have it. You can now confidently clap back at anyone shaming you for being anti-planet by using your dishwasher, as long as you fill the machine before doing a wash and utilise the eco settings.
Every dishwasher deserves a bit of TLC.
Maybe even go one step further and use an eco-friendly dishwasher tab with no single-use plastic or nasty ingredients. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to choose what’s best for you. Not all of us have, or can afford, a dishwasher – so doing what you can with what you’ve got is key.
So if you’re part of the cleaning-by-hand crew, then you can also sleep easy provided you don’t leave the tap running and use an eco-friendly washing-up liquid.
Either way, however you clean your plates, we’ve got a Thing for that. Suds’ the word for the eco early bird.
"Til' dishwasher do us part..."