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Does Loading Plates Directly in the Dishwasher Really Save Money?


If you own a dishwasher, you might still clean your dishes by hand sometimes — or all the time. Perhaps you might even wash your dishes by hand and then plop them into your trusty kitchen appliance. You’re not alone: A lot of people think hand-washing is simply cleaner and more efficient for the annoying household chore. But according to experts, these methods could actually be washing our hard-earned cash down the drain.

Does using a dishwasher save money?

A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Consumer Studies looked at 200 homes with and without a dishwasher in four European countries. For a time period of two weeks, participants recorded every single dishwashing process. Researchers also interviewed and observed participants in regard to all their dishwashing habits. Results showed that the households with a dishwasher used on average 50 percent less water and 28 percent less energy per cleaned item, compared to households that had no dishwasher. 

And that research isn’t the only thing pointing to trusting your appliance a bit more than you already do. In a 2015 Washington Post article, the publication reported that a wide variety of expert sources — such as Consumer Reports, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy — all have suggested to some extent that we should simply let the dishwasher do its job… which means no hand-washing as a precursor or a replacement should be necessary.

“While it may be possible to use less water/energy by washing dishes by hand, it is extremely unlikely,” said Jonah Schein, of the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program, in a statement to the Washington Post. “In order to wash the same amount of dishes that can fit in a single load of a full-size dishwasher and use less water, you would need to be able to wash eight full place settings and still limit the total amount of time that the faucet was running to less than two minutes.”

This might come as a shock to a lot of people out there who might have assumed that a dishwasher would use more water and energy — and thus add up to a higher price. But according to Telegraph Money, a dishwasher that is used efficiently is often much cheaper than running all that water from your sink. So what does it mean to use your dishwasher “efficiently”?

Other than avoiding washing your dishes by hand, another great tip is to fully load your dishwasher before using it, instead of just placing a few items in there. (Though of course, you don’t want to overload it, either — the last thing you want to risk is a broken dish or two!) And the only other thing to keep in mind is making sure your dishwasher is up to the latest hygiene and modern efficiency standards.

After all, if you’re pre-washing before actually washing your dishes in an old, creaky dishwasher, you’re not only wasting time, but also wasting money — and who wants that?

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