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Dishwashers save more water than washing by hand?

Dishwashers save more water than washing by hand?
Dishwashers save water
Dishwashers save water
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Dishwashers save water
Dishwashers save water
Dishwashers save water
Dishwashers save water
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April 7, 2009 To handwash or not to handwash? When it comes to saving water, it seems some people firmly believe that the dishwasher is one of those things that need to be sacrificed. Too much water and energy is the argument. A new study firmly refutes this idea and - keeping in mind that it's presented by Electrolux, a company that makes washing machines - revisits the debate on dishwashers.

According to the study, London alone could save as much as 16 billion liters (4.2 billion gallons) of fresh water a year if every household used a dishwasher instead of washing by hand, and as the dishwasher uses less water and time, it would also use less energy to heat it up.

The study is based on findings from the University of Bonn, Germany. It says that on average 10.5 liters (2.77 gallons) of water is used per person, each day, when washing the normal amount of dishes by hand, whereas Electrolux says its best dishwashers use only 2.27 liters (.59 gallons) of water to wash the same amount of dishes (per person, per day) and would require less energy to heat up the smaller amount of water. A full cycle in the dishwasher will consume about 15 liters (4 gallons) on average. According to a Greener Choices report, the most efficient water saving dishwasher per cycle uses 11.3 liters (3 gallons) of water. The Electrolux models were not included in this study, however Electrolux believe their best models, such as the Swedish model ESF68020W uses only 2.27 liters (.59 gallons) per person, which is actually 12 liters (3.1 gallons) per full cycle.

The “average” hand-washing figures are of course debatable and perhaps relative to how conscious you might be on how much water is used while washing by hand. Others have also noted the negative impact the actual construction of the dishwashers might have on the globe, and the use of embodied energy in the dishwasher may have not been taken into account.

The WaterSavings study included population data figures from 22 European countries and reflects the three types of behaviors people have when washing by hand which include: washing in a bowl (or the sink), washing under running water, or a combination of both. They believe the water savings potential of their dishwashers could actually be larger than the figures given, having based their findings on the general behavior of consumers – it seems that most people use less than half of the possible space inside their dishwasher and if they used more, would save a lot more water.

Water scarcity is very real and growing issue around the world and Electrolux presents their findings as an aid to solving this problem. The UN has warned that by the year 2025, between 2.6 and 3.1 billion people could be facing water scarcity or water-stressed conditions. “Everyone can play a role in solving the challenge of water scarcity - consumers, by adopting new technologies and making smart choices in their daily life,” says Henrik Sundström, Head of Sustainability Affairs at the Electrolux group.

Here are Electrolux' Tips on saving water when using dishwashers:

    Always wash with a full load to maximum capacity but do not pile
    Don’t rinse your dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. People still do this, although only a scrape is needed and it hasn’t been required for modern dishwasher for many years.
    Don’t use too much detergent
    Change to a modern dishwasher every few years, as appliances are made more efficient over time

Whichever path you choose - every little bit helps!
Jamilah Le

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Michael Mantion
It would take me 2 weeks to fill up my dishwasher with just dishes and utensils. Regardless I would always wash my pots and pans by hand, I always reuse my glass and or wash it right after use and would not wash it in the dishwasher either as it dulls or gets pots. We have a modern dishwasher and it does not clean dishes completely, remaining food is caked on, the dishes take for ever to dry if you do not use the heater, if you use the heater it waste electricity and heats up your kitchen in the hot summers. Oh and it seems to create a warm moist environment which bacteria thrive on. create a sauna in the dish washer which bacteria love and thrive. I use next to no water as I wash all my dishes after using them I use a non sponge brush, scrub everything with out using water then rinse everything at once, it takes less time then it does to put in and take out of the dishwasher. This study is absurd.
Legal Alien
My favorite part of this article is that it states that one must 'change to a modern dishwasher every few years, as appliances are made more efficient over time'... This fails to take into account the environmental damage caused by mechanical waste products that are generated by replacing products that frequently; Far more waste than by replacing a simple sponge, it can be assured. Then again there is a disclosure- 'keeping in mind that it's presented by Electrolux'... Enough said.
Also, doesn\'t seem like a fair comparison to compare the best dishwasher to the average person. How about the average dishwasher to the average person, or the top 1% dishwashers to the top 1% people.
I am at my parents in law place and absolutely everything is washed in a dishwasher. Leaving aside my favourite knife, I cut a slice of bread and it desapperars in the thing for hours: it has such a bad design you can\'t tell whether is working or not (built in the kitchen furniture), but I strongly believe that if a good 70% of the thing are dirty because of oil free food / crumbs it would be much better rinsing them without washing them in a dishwasher wasting energy for nothing. Even the lid I use to warm up the water for the pasta ends every single time in the dishwasher! It was just water, and hot, for god\'s sake.... And most of the things get rinsed anyway, getting already almost clean: as little as 2 or 3 seconds more under the water and they could be stored away. Note: we eat mostly vegetarian so no fat/greasy stuff is involved. Washing virtually clean stuff means that the appliance is working for nothing.
Anne McMenamin
I have often doubted this figure - about how much more environmentally sound dishwashers are than hand-washing, and now, having read a couple of articles, I am dumbstruck. I do my dishes in the sink, and, I've just measured, using about 10l of water. Living by myself, I only do the dishes every 2-3 days, rinsing off any dishes or saucepans with junk on them. But this is also done by anyone using a dishwasher when they are only putting dishes through once the washer is full - and, often, even when they are going to run it straight away. I don't rinse dishes after washing - this was the big breakthrough with detergents, as compared to the old soap-shakers. I use the same water to wipe down the table and work-spaces. Plus not using any external energy to do the work, nor taking into account all the energy, metal and water resources involved in mining and refining the metal, and manufacturing the machine - which, as one of your correspondents points out, has to be replaced every so often. Hand-washing has to come out miles ahead.