What uses less water — hand-washing dishes or using a dishwasher?

Ah, yes — the age-old question: “What uses less water — hand-washing dishes or using a dishwasher?” If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably asked yourself this question multiple times. Well, we here at World Class Cleaning have done some sleuthing and we’ve got an answer for you!


Ok, to set forth the criteria of our study, let us assume that you just had a *wonderful* dinner party for you and seven of your closest friends. The dinner party went really well, by the way! You served parmesan polenta cakes with heirloom tomato-corn salad along with a few sides. It all tasted amazing! Everybody had a wonderful time and are now all well on their way home. That leaves you. And 8 place settings, as well as the miscellaneous serving dishes, etc. This works out well for our study because Energy Star assumes that the load in a “standard” dishwasher bears “a capacity greater than or equal to eight place settings and six serving pieces.” We’ve set the scene and we’re now to ready to ask the question: What is going to be a more water-efficient method of washing these dishes?


According to avonlakewater.com, the average kitchen faucet dumps out about 2.2 gallons of water PER MINUTE. That’s quite a bit of water and this information falls in line with other resources available regarding the amount of water generated by a kitchen faucet per minute. The average dishwasher cycle uses roughly 12 gallons per load, while the more water-conservation-friendly units use as little as half that amount per load. NOW… Between 8 place settings and the serving dishes, etcetera, you are looking at well over 50 dishes that are in need of washing. Now… for the sake of this conceptual study, let’s say that you average 15 seconds per dish when hand-washing. Let’s say you’ve got 60 dishes to wash, which means you’re looking at 15 minutes of scrub time! Now if your kitchen faucet falls into the median range of around 2.2 gallons of water per minute, this means you’re looking at using THIRTY-THREE gallons of water to hand-wash all those dishes from your wonderful dinner party. If you stick them in your early 2000’s “standard” style dishwasher? 12 gallons. What if your dishwasher is a modern Energy Star certified water-conserving model? All those dishes will be clean with as little as SIX gallons of water. And this is not factoring in running a cycle on the “light load” setting, which makes dishwashers look like an even BETTER option in the interest of conserving water (and saving yourself some dollars on that monthly utility bill). Let us not forget that you’re going to be using less soap per load in a dishwasher, you’re NOT going to be using a kitchen sponge (arguably one of the germiest objects in the house) AND your dishes –thanks to the higher temperatures of a dishwasher– are going to come out even cleaner than if you hand-wash them. We feel like this one is a clear winner.

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