Do You Really Save Water By Hand-Washing The Dishes?


A couple weeks ago I wrote about how to cut down on water usage when washing the dishes.  But then I started to wonder, how much water does the dishwasher actually use?  Am I really saving water by hand-washing?

The average dishwasher uses about 6 gallons of water per load.  The average kitchen sink holds 15-20 gallons.  If I fill the sink half full, that’s at least 7.5 gallons used, plus any extra I may use rinsing the dishes.  So I’m only really more efficient than the dishwasher if I’m filling the sink less than half full, and rinsing sparingly. 

There is the energy required to run the dishwasher to consider, plus the energy of heating water in both instances, but water-wise it may be a toss-up. 

Energy star dishwashers use even less water and energy than standard ones, which is something to consider if you have one, but I’m guessing if you’ve put money down on an energy star dishwasher, you’re not going to the trouble of washing your dishes by hand anyway.

One thing’s for certain: using the dishwasher is definitely more efficient than my old method of dishwashing (i.e. letting the water run continuously while I scrub and rinse). 

My research also suggests that the dishwasher does a much more thorough cleaning job than I do.