Leos Box

Is using a dishwasher best for the planet?

Although the UK is famed for its poor weather, we need to feel concerned about water shortages which are currently facing many countries around the world like South Africa and potentially England. The South East of England faces large demands on water supply with unchecked water-use, more infrastructure, climate change and population growth meaning the area could run out of water within 20 years.*
So, there’s a need for us all to start limiting water-use, but it’s easy to feel detached. We often pay our bills by direct debit and we don’t really see the volumes of water running through our homes each day. It’s no wonder most of us don’t realise the full impact of turning on a tap.
So how do we ensure having clean dishes doesn’t waste valuable resources?
Should we wash by hand… or use a dishwasher?
Interestingly, a dishwasher can be more water and energy efficient than washing by hand. A study of 200 households found those with dishwashers used 50% less water and 28% less energy than those without.**
Newer dishwashers use around 10 litres of water on an eco setting whereas washing up by hand can use 9 times this if you are running items under a hot tap. ***
In fact, the kitchen sink is the source of most water-related carbon emissions in the home.
And how much energy does a dishwasher use?
It depends on the age and efficiency rating of your machine. Newer models with A+++ ratings use less energy especially if you are only running it once a day. They take cold water from the mains and heat it within the machine which is more efficient than running off a hot feed. 
But remember, whilst full-sized dishwashers are more water/energy efficient, this is based on filling the machine each time it is used. 
Washing a half-empty load means you’ll be wasting half of the machine’s water and energy. If you live alone, a compact dishwasher will be a more efficient choice. The important thing is to just run it once it’s fully loaded. This way you will be saving money and power because one cycle costs the same as running the hot tap for 6-9 minutes.***
Don’t have a dishwasher?
Don’t worry. Here are our top tips to wash-up wisely.
Fill a bowl with hot water and washing-up liquid (our Fill ginger one is perfect for this!) and another bowl with clean hot water.
Pre-soak your dishes in the hot soapy water bowl to loosen any debris. You’ll use less water and energy when the time comes to scrub them. Don’t hold them under a constantly running tap.
Use the second bowl of clean hot water for rinsing.
Then we’d recommend using a sustainable and non-plastic brush and scourer - such as our ecoconut dish brush and seep sponges. Helping to reduce your plastic usage as well as water usage. 
And to dry? Leave them to air or use a cloth tea-towel that can be washed and reused again and again.
Following these tips means you’ll use around the same amount of water as the dishwasher.
* National Audit Office 2020
**(C P Richter 2007 - 2008)
*** (B. Galizzi, Money 2020)
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