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Tom Lea BScHons, GradIOSH, AIEMA

What's more Earth Friendly? Dishwasher or Sink?

A new study published in the journal Environmental Research Communications shows that dishwashers still take the prize for efficiency, both in terms of energy and water used. Read all about it!

February 2020

The first commercial dishwasher was invented in 1887, and since then the long-standing green living debate over hand versus dishwasher lives on.

According to the International Energy Agency, 78% of US Households and 49% of UK households now own dishwashers, a statistic which stands at an all-time record high. Interestingly, the research also uncovered that many dishwasher households still wash dishes by hand. Which method is truly earth-friendly?

The Research

A new study published in the journal Environmental Research Communications shows that dishwashers still take the prize for efficiency, both in terms of energy and water used. However, the study revealed that there are better and worse ways of using dishwashers, as well as better and worse ways of washing dishes by hand. The findings are interesting because the task of cleaning dishes is something we do every day. So to be green-living, why not learn the optimal way?

According to an insight article by TreeHuggers on the study, participants were asked first to load and run a dishwasher and then to wash dishes by hand the way they would at home. They answered survey questions afterwards about their dishwashing behaviours. Other participants were then asked to load a dishwasher and wash dishes by hand following best practices. This meant not pre-rinsing dishes before loading in the dishwasher and using the recommended normal cycle with heated dry, rinse-aid, and high-quality detergent. The machines were assumed to be fully loaded, as 93 percent of participants reported being able to do this regularly. For washing dishes, this meant using the two-basin method "where dishes are soaked and scrubbed in hot water, rinsed in cold water, and are air-dried."

The Results are In

When it comes down to the stats, the report estimates the water usage of both methods across 10 years; a dishwasher will use 16,300 gallons of water, whereas washing the same quantity of dishes by hand for ten years will use 34,200 gallons.

The advice from the research states that if we learn from best practice techniques, we could go a long way toward improving our footprint and reduce emissions by 249 per cent. The resulting greenhouse gas emissions from the recommended two-basin method were only 1,610 kg over 10 years. But that's not a whole lot less than a properly-run dishwasher at 2,090 kg, which suggests that using a dishwasher – especially if you're factoring in the cost of your time – really sounds like the way to go.

You can read the full report findings here

We Believe 

Astutis believes that the problems we face on the climate crisis are systemic and that fundamental societal change is needed. We will keep writing educational content on the efforts of individuals and communities around the world who are helping future generations and the preservation of human life on earth by talking about long-standing green issues.

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