Caution: Dishwashin’

Your dishwasher is one of the most energy intensive appliances in your home, with each cycle using about 3 kilowatt hours of electricity. With that same energy, you could toast 300 pieces of bread. (Hope you’re hungry!) So how can you make it a little greener?

  1. No need to rinse beforehand. The dishes don’t have to be completely free of food before putting them in the machine, although you should scrape the food off first to prevent clogging.
  2. When in doubt, use less soap! “Most people use 10 to 15 times the amount of soap they need,” says appliance expert Vernon Schmidt.

Just because your dishwasher uses a lot of energy doesn’t mean you should wash your dishes by hand, though. A study conducted at the University of Bonn [pdf] in Germany found that the most dishwashers use only half the energy, one-sixth of the water, and less soap than hand-washing an identical set of dirty dishes. (Though it certainly depends on your hand-washing style.)

For more on dishwashing efficiently, check out Dishwashers: Green and Clean or Green in the Kitchen: Less Water, Less Work.

Photo credit: Robert Terrell, via Flickr

Disclaimer: don’t let your dog do this if there’s anything sharp, any food that is unhealthy for pooches, or soap. Please!

One thought on “Caution: Dishwashin’

  1. Erik

    I’ve been handwashing dishes forever. So when I moved into my condo I thought I would be smart about my first dishwasher. I got a Fisher and Paykel dishdrawer. It’s small, just big enough for two people. You can run it on an Eco cycle which uses less energy and water to get the job done. Most of the time the dishes are tea cups, silverware, a few plates, stuff that doesn’t get debris stuck all over them. One complaint though, you need phosphates in the detergent! Otherwise, there will be a film on everything. Now I’m waiting for the next breakthrough in environmentally friendly dw detergent.

    I believe it is important to pre-rinse the dishes. Many people may love to chuck the dishes straight into the machine and if they don’t come out clean they’ll just keep them in for another cycle.

    At my workplace, a restaurant, I have supplied the kitchen staff with reusable cups to drink from. Since the kitchen is staffed for about 17 hours per day the amount of glassware that was in circulation was insane. It amounted to multiple racks of glasses every day multiplied by 7 days per week by 365 days a year. The amount of energy expended and the amount of toxic chemicals getting dumped straight into the city sewer system adds up pretty quickly. We as individuals have to try to conserve in our personal lives but the amount of abuse that takes place in the business world is irreversible in this lifetime (imho).

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