The argument for handwashing is two-fold. Some claim that they’d never use a dishwasher because handwashing is simply more environmentally friendly. Others claim that they get better cleaning results.
Washing the dishes by hand is time-consuming. There’s not much argument about that. But just how much time will a dishwasher save you?
Washing a full dishwasher load (including plates, cutlery and cookware) by hand, can take anywhere up to an hour. Dishwashers will take between two and three hours to complete a load, but you’re looking at saving around four hours per week of manual effort. Just think of what you could do with all that extra time!
Caring for dishes
Some people worry that their dishes or glasses will be damaged in their dishwasher, and so think handwashing is the safer bet. A properly loaded dishwasher should not be damaging dishes and other items. Just make sure anything that’s not dishwasher-safe stays out of the appliance.
If you think handwashing results in a better-quality clean, think again. Even with rubber gloves on, our hands can’t withstand the water temperature needed to kill bacteria. A dishwasher heats water up to 140°F, killing most bacteria.
Plus, powerful water jets blast food and dirt off the surfaces of your kitchen wear. A side-by-side comparison shows that dishwasher results will nearly always beat handwashing results. That said, you need to load your dishwasher properly to guarantee the best cleaning performance.
With the initial cost of the appliance and its water and energy consumption, some people worry that a dishwasher can be just an extravagant expense. Will a dishwasher save you money?
This question is a little tricky to answer because it depends on usage habits and the size of your household. Having said that, in most cases, over its lifetime, a dishwasher will save you money compared to washing by hand, simply because it uses water and energy more efficiently than handwashing. And then of course, there’s all that time you’ll save—what price would you put on that?
A dishwasher uses a lot of electricity and water, so handwashing must be more environmentally friendly… Well, that simply isn’t the case. Even the largest dishwashers will only use around 3 gallons of water per cycle, while most kitchen sinks need 5-8 gallons of water to fill them. Plus, you’ll likely need to exchange the water if you’re taking on as much handwashing as 12-place setting dishwasher can handle. You’ll use seven times more water if you handwash than if you use a dishwasher over a 10-year period.
As for energy, a dishwasher uses electricity to heat the water it needs, and since it needs less water than a kitchen sink, it’s going to use less energy than handwashing. Over a 10-year period, a dishwasher will use roughly half the energy that handwashing will.
So all in all, as long as it’s used sensibly and efficiently, a dishwasher beats handwashing on pretty much every front.