Photo: Hand washing versus dishwashers

Always use eco-friendly dishwasher and/or dishwashing soap. (Credit: Microsoft Images)

Let me ask you this, can you wash and rinse a dirty plate with a cup of water?

Researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany found that, compared to hand washing, dishwashers use only half the energy, one-sixth of the water, and less soap. The most careful of hand-washers just could not beat the dishwashers we are blessed with today. The study also rated the level of cleanliness. Once again, the dishwasher won.

ENERGY STAR claims that using an efficient dishwasher instead of an older one will cut your utility bills by more than $40 per year. An ENERGY STAR-qualified dishwasher can save you over 230 hours of time over the course of a year (almost 10 days)! Although, if you find washing dishes therapeutic, who am I to argue with the value of quality "me" time?

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Four tips to washing dishes "greener"

  • Run your machine full, on the "light" cycle and turn off the "heated drying" option.
  • Choose an eco-friendly dishwasher.
  • Choose eco-friendly dishwashing soap! If a product doesn't list ingredients, leave it on the shelf. Look for products with eco-labels like Green Seal or Environmental Choice's EcoLogo.
  • Hand wash big pots (space hogs), knives (get dull from clanking against dishes), and plastic containers (release harmful chemicals when washed).

The bottom-line: Energy-efficient dishwashers win out. But there are certain dishes that should be hand-washed. You can do a more efficient job by scraping food into the compost instead of wasting water rinsing.

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