May 2022

Dishwasher uses less water than washing by hand

Did you know cleaning your dishes in a dishwasher uses less water than washing by hand?

Member comments

Get access to comment

Doug M.
11 Jun 2022
Disappointing article

I'm disappointed in this article as it is not thorough.

The article assumes you put everything in the dishwasher. I would suggest that in practice you still should/need to do some handwashing especially for plastics, pots, bottles, electric frypans, slow cooker ceramic bowls, oven trays & dishes, bone handled knives, and other things. Also if the dishwasher is loaded full there are usually some things left over.

Pot handles will last longer if washed by hand. Mine have lasted 40 years and are still going strong. Also plastics and quality glassware will last longer if washed by hand.

It is also good for your waste water pipes and your machine if you do a quick hand rinse to remove some of the worst scraps from your dishes and pots. If you do a good pre-rinse then you should only need one sink load of water to do the main wash.

I fill my main sink with about 12l of water, with a small auxiliary sink, used for getting the suds off, with 4l of water. I don't how much water my older dishwater uses - even the manual doesn't say.

So more often than not you will need a dishwasher load AND a manual sink wash.

Dean C.
30 May 2022
Manual washing or Dishwasher!

This experiment seems rather lax!
Not enough details of where / how and by whom the test was carried out, under what conditions. The number of dishes, pots and pans , the exact amount of water used. Cost of detergent > dish-powder.
Plumbers just love households that do not rinse before placing in items in the dishwasher - clogging of filters and waste pipes etc. $$$$
Consumer could carry out their own tests in homes and lab, with both sink and dishwasher comparisons using appropriate controls like metering of waste water, temperatures and electricity consumed!

Deborah M.
29 May 2022
Thank you Consumer!

I loved this article! Very helpful!

Ruth B.
28 May 2022
But you still need dish water

Even though I use a dishwasher, I still need to put hot water and detergent in my sink to clean the bench and the stove after cooking. This water is also useful for washing items which are not dishwasher-safe.

Jenny T.
28 May 2022
I'm always suspicious of this research topic

The research findings that flood the internet on the water saving properties of dishwashers are always funded by the dishwasher industry. Their water usage calculations never take account of pre-rinsing at 6 litres a minute.

It's refreshing to see that this report is independent, BUT
my washing up bowl, 2/3 full, contains 4 litres of water.
So 3 bowls is 12 litres. Less than your dishwasher.

I live on my own. When I wash the dishes by hand I don't have to wait for the dishwasher to fill up with dirty dishes. You just wash when needed, when you choose, using an appropriate amount of water. A big advantage.

Kas S.
28 May 2022
Well yeah

Living on your own is the best saver of water but when people can't do that like having more than 1 person in the household, it is way way cheaper to use the dishwasher. There's only 2 adults in my household and my pots and pans also go in at the same time as my dishes, cutlery etc so I'm not washing them separately. So mush easier letting the machine clean the pots than myself using elbow grease.

Neil A.
28 May 2022
water usage AND electricity

Oh dear.
Not sure why people would be suspicious about these reports and the research.
IF I had instant hot water at my tap, hot enough to do a proper dish wash, I might be able to use 12 litres in total for hand wash.
BUT, you don't get hot water out of your tap!
Cold water comes out for a while while you wave your hands in the stream judging when it is hot enough. [= waste]
Wash the first lot. Oh yes, now turn on the hot tap to rinse things. Oops! cool water comes out. darn! wait a while for the hot water to arrive [ = more waste]

Dishwashers cut out all that wastage. They fill with cold; heat just enough water for the wash; add enough chemicals etc for wash and rinses.
Presto! easy and very efficient with water AND electricity.

But - I haven't seen cost comparisons between "Do I spend say $1,500 on a dishwasher now?" versus "What does it cost me to keep hand washing, wasting water and using my electricity to do the same job" ? How long is the pay off?
Over to Consumer.. do the sums for us please.
Neil