I am so excited to have a dishwasher once we move in July–it’s almost impossible to describe how wonderful I think it will be…  but one thing I hadn’t really considered until I saw the title of an article posted on the Huffington Post on Tuesday (“Which is Better for the Environment: Washing Dishes by Hand or the Dishwasher?“) was whether washing dishes with a dishwasher instead of by hand was the most earth-friendly/resource-friendly/green option.  To be honest, I didn’t really want to find out.

But–I’m happy to announce (or repeat) that a study by the University of Bonn in Germany has found that correctly using a dishwasher (those are key words) is in fact better (greener) option!  According to the study, “washing a load of dishes (12 place settings) by hand uses on average 27 gallons of water and 2.5 kilowatt-hours of energy to heat the water, whereas an energy-efficient dishwasher uses about four gallons of water and 1 kWh of energy per load.”

Some other suggestions the article offered for lowering your carbon footprint further (and saving money) included:
• Scrape food off plates before loading the dishwasher, but don’t pre-rinse.
• Only run a full load and load it per the manufacturer’s suggestions for maximum cleaning.
• No dishwasher? Hand-wash dishes right away (you’ll use less water when there’s no stuck-on crud).

In a few weeks, we’ll be happily loading, starting, and unloading our dishwasher, but for now we continue to wash our dishes as though we had a pila instead of a kitchen sink–get everything soapy, then rinse.  I’m sure I’ll also be looking for a green/less toxic dishwasher detergent soon too, so if you’ve got suggestions, be sure to let me know!