Hand Washing Vs Dishwashing

Hand-washing Vs. Dishwashing

You’ve wondered the answer to this before: which one is better, hand-washing or dishwashing? Better for the dishes? For the environment? Which one works better? Which one costs less? Which takes less time? The answers could surprise you.

Which one is greener?

It seems that the majority of people who wash their dishes by hand leave a steady, semi-hard stream of water running throughout the process. Doing dishes this way can waste up to 5 gallons per minute. Compared to Energy Star dishwasher models, which can use as little as 3 gallons per load, this is an incredible statistic. Put this in context:

Imagine a 5 gallon bucket full of water. 5 gallons of water. Imagine dumping out that entire bucket of water every minute for as long as it takes you to do the dishes.

…now imagine that using the dishwasher used only a little over half of one of those buckets to get the whole thing clean.

To be fair, not everyone does the dishes under a steady, hard stream of fresh water running through the entire process. There are far more efficient ways to do the dishes by hand. Take a look:

This category’s winner: Dishwashers. In general, dishwashers make a much more efficient use of water than the human counterparts. Onto the next category.

Which one is more effective?

When it comes to killing bacteria, dishwashers are more effective. Dishwashers can wash dishes at temperatures of around 140 degrees, and basically no normal human would tolerate washing the dishes at that temperature.

That said, they conducted a study in Sweden that concluded that children in families where dishes were washed by hand instead of by dishwasher were 40 percent less likely to develop allergies. The idea behind this is that the dishes get so clean in dishwashers that people’s immune systems fail to be stimulated in healthy ways and this leads to allergies.

This category’s winner: Dishwashers (whether or not that’s a good thing is up for debate)

Which one is better for the dishes?

For the most part, dishwashing and hand-washing are both ok for dishes. You’re probably already aware that some dishes can’t get put through the dishwasher, or if they can, can only be put on the top shelf. Pay close attention to the instructions that come with dishes when you buy them.

This category’s winner: Uncertain

Which one costs less?

We’ve already covered the fact that, in general, dishwashers use less water than people. Dishwashers also use less energy, because you have to factor in the amount of energy it takes to heat the amount of water that gets used while washing the dishes. By far, hand-washing costs more money on utility bills than using the dishwasher.

This category’s winner: Dishwashers


Dishwashing is basically better all around than hand-washing. In general, it uses less energy, costs less money, is better for the environment and kills bacteria more effectively. Which one do you prefer? Do you have something to add to the debate? We’d love to hear from you.

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