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Handwashing vs. The Dishwasher - Which is more economical?


Handwashing vs. Dishwasher... which is more economical? I have read arguments for both sides. Does anyone have a definitive answer? Has anyone actually tested this (amount of water used, amount of electricity used, etc.?). My guess is, handwashing is more economical, if done correctly. Any thoughts?

Ree 127 from Sarasota, FL



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By (Guest Post) 04/17/2006

A friend who is a plumber told me this.

"If you wash dishes by hand three times a day, breakfast, lunch, supper with a full sink of hot soapy water you will use more water then using your dishwasher once a day".

"Your electricity will be about the same as you are using less hot water from the tank and if you don't need to heat the water for the dishwasher it is equivilant. However, this is with most newer dishwashers".

The other thing is you should always run your water in the kitchen sink until is hot before you turn your dishwasher so it will be hot, and use air dry if at all possible.

Hope this helps you out!


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By KLS8800 (Guest Post) 04/17/2006

I suppose it would depend upon how many in your family, how big of meals you eat, how often, etc. However, when I bought my new dishwasher last year, the brochure with it said that the dishwasher uses about 8 to 10 gallons of water each washing. Do you let the HOT water run when handwashing your dishes, do you drain out your water, then refill the sink with clean water for a big load of dishes? Do you pre rinse? My guess: Using a dishwasher is more economical. I will say this: It is nice to put them in the washer after cooking a big meal and go join the family than stand in the kitchen at the sink alone for another 30 min if not longer, due to putting away food, scraping plates, washing dishes, drying, putting away...

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By susan (Guest Post) 04/17/2006

There is no contest if you do what I do. I have a divided sink and use a tub in each, one washing one rinsing. When I'm done with washing dishes I pour the water into a big bucket which I then take out to my flower and vegetable gardens and use it on whatever plants need it. It waters the plants, the soap in the water hinders pests, and the food in the water fertilizes. I wouldn't do it any other way.

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By syd (Guest Post) 04/17/2006

There are two of us, unless we have company, it is more economical to wash by hand. We minimize the dishes we use, since we dish up in the kitchen and bring plates to table.

It takes days to fill the dishwasher for a full load and in the meantime, I keep taking out my favorite items, washing and using them. I use a dishpan in the sink.

This works for us.

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By Glinda (Guest Post) 04/17/2006

I do both. I load glasses, cups, and soup bowls in dishwasher only. (can get alot more in, plus sanitize where people drink), Then I wash plates by hand, in a dishpan of hot soapy water. It goes quickly. (I use Oxy dishliquid for this, a little soak works wonders!) That only leaves the pots and pans. I do those by hand, (with Oxy dishliquid), while the dishwasher runs with the cups, glasses , and soup bowls. I have a large family, and even when company comes, we can move quickly working together with this technique.

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By Cindy 7 160 04/18/2006

I also do both. We are a family of 4 and I load the dishwasher with the plates, bowls, mugs and glasses and silverware. I hand wash the pots and pans and anything that cannot go in the dishwasher. I dont let the water run while I hand wash- I fill up the sink. I know some people wash each thing seperately under running water with a fresh squirt of soap-what a waste! I run the dishwasher sometimes every day and sometimes every other. I let the water run hot when I fill up the sink to hand wash and THEN turn on the dishwasher so the water is already hot. This has made a big difference in the cleanliness of my dishes. I also only use the Wal-Mart brand of dishwasher soap. It was proven by consumer reports to work better than Cascade!

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By Carol in PA (Guest Post) 04/18/2006

The May,2006 issue of Family Circle Magazine has a full page article on How to Buy a Dishwasher. It says " Save Money and water. Running a full load of dishes uses 9 to 12 gallons of water, washing and rinsing the same load by hand takes 20 gallons, according to the American Water Works Association. Keep your dishes and conscinece clean by selecting an Energy Star-qualified model (look for the blue sticker with the 'energy star' logo.) Bonus: You'll also save $25 a year in energy costs."

I wanted to add - Another bonus - Your dishes will be cleaner and disinfected...or perhaps I should say sanitized...
Best wishes

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By jackie (Guest Post) 07/03/2006

I just want to know which method correctly sanitizes your dishes.

Can hot water spraying around in the dishwasher, effectively get germs off the rims of cups and crevices of silverware?
I just want to know which method correctly sanitizes your dishes.

Can hot water spraying around in the dishwasher, effectively get germs off the rims of cups and crevices of silverware?

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By p.gilbert (Guest Post) 09/07/2006

We have been washing dishes by hand lately (thoroughly) and I am feeling sick. Does the dishwasher get the dishes cleaner? More sanitary? Kill more germs? I know I can't get the water as hot as the DW for the hand washing. Any facts put there?

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By (Guest Post) 12/05/2006

It seems to me one fact remains little science has been used to test which method is more energy efficient. With the premise of a full dishwasher it does seem more practical and less costly, however when using a small amount of dishes doing them manually seems more practical.

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By Cindy (Guest Post) 04/05/2007

Does everyone know about 1/2 size dishwasher? They are wonderful and efficient. for small families and a couple for larger families.
People like myself who don't have a dishwasher for various reasons, usually have a counter full of dishes throughout the day. When I visit my friend with 3 lively, busy boys, her kitchen is always so clean, its because they all can keep control of the dish clutter with a dishwasher: use, rinse, store in DW until its full to run.
I have another friend who it seems is always washing the dishes or preparing to, its on going, all day long. if you wash by hand, its on the counter or sink or drying in the rack, on and on..There seems to be so much clutter, Make it go away.
Its true when clutter is removed we can start to see around us alot clearly and be more productive and find time to do something that actually enhances ours and someone else's life.


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By Wafa (Guest Post) 01/15/2008

There is a study done on this by Bonn University in Germany:

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