Handwashing vs. Dishwasher When Considering Water Usage March 21, 1014

Three years of lower than average rainfall exacerbated by a record dry 2013 in parts of California are causing behavior modification to lessen our water usage. At my home, we have bought a 5 minute shower timer, are practicing the whole “if it’s yellow, let it mellow…” thing, not pre-rinsing dishes for the dishwasher and watering the outdoors very sparingly. While irrigation is by far the biggest consumer of water, there are plenty of areas in the home to conserve water.

As far as dishwashing goes, there is continued discussion on what uses less water- dishwashing machines or hand washing. That depends on a couple of factors. A fairly modern dishwasher, especially if it is Energy Star rated, is thrifty in water usage. If you pre-rinse combined with using your dishwasher than water is definitely being wasted. Modern dishwashers do not require pre-rinsing except for the toughest of dried on foods. In that situation, soaking will usually remedy the problem. Be sure and always run your machine full!

When hand washing dishes you can also conserve water. Fill a side by side sink with soapy water in one and clean water for rinsing in the other. Two buckets work just as well for single sinks. The answer to the question of hand washing verses machine washing dishes and water use is not definitive one way or the other. There are a few variables to consider. By being conscientious you can save water with whichever method you choose.

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