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Green and clean – why the dishwasher is the most sustainable way to wash up

Why is the dishwasher better for the environment than washing dishes by hand? Let us count the ways … We’ve tallied up the environmental benefits of using the dishwasher over washing by hand and explain how the different programmes offered by your dishwasher can save water, energy, or both.

Is the dishwasher better for the environment than washing dishes by hand?

We all know the obvious advantages of using a dishwasher. It takes up less of your time, it’s more hygienic and effective than washing dishes by hand, plus it makes it easier to keep the kitchen tidy. However, what is the eco impact of the dishwasher.

The results of independent investigations are conclusive: the dishwasher really is the most economical way to wash up. In general, it uses less water and less energy, even when you factor in the energy used to produce the dishwasher itself.

Newer machines are more energy-efficient than older ones, full-size dishwashers are more economical overall, but a more compact model works out better in a small household than regularly running the machine half-empty.

That’s the basics, now let’s dive deep to find out how to lower consumption, conserve water and save energy by using the right programmes.

Which dishwasher programme has the lowest consumption?

The obvious answer would be the eco programme. However, if you live in an area that experiences water shortages, it’s more important to save water. If you live in a place where electricity cuts are an issue, you may want to pay more attention to saving energy. Most manufacturers programme the eco setting to run at a lower heat and use less water, but it’s worth checking the dishwasher manual to verify the water and energy saving potential of other cycles, such as the short wash or low water setting. 

How to save energy by using your dishwasher

Make sure your dishwasher is as full as possible before switching it on. Read our guide on how to load your dishwasher to find out how to get the maximum of dishes in without sacrificing cleaning power. Always run the dishwasher at the lowest possible temperature. Of course, you  have to turn up the heat for particularly dirty dishes and it’s a good idea to run a hot programme occasionally to clean the machine and kill bacteria, but keep it cool for everyday plates, cups and glasses. In addition, save energy by choosing to run room temperature drying (if available) or even by ending the wash before the drying stage and letting the dishes air-dry naturally.

As with any electrical appliance, switch off the standby mode whenever you aren’t using it. You can ease pressure on the grid by running your dishwasher at off-peak times (for example late at night), when electricity is often cheaper and is more likely to come from local power plants.

How to save water by using your dishwasher

Do not pre-rinse your dishes, neither under the tap, nor in the machine. Scrape food scraps into the bin before loading, but don’t waste water on a task that will be repeated in the dishwasher.