As we become more environmentally conscious, it’s natural to start second-guessing our daily habits and how eco-friendly they might actually be. When it comes to housekeeping, it can be difficult to decide whether to rely on home appliances or to put in the extra effort and do our house chores the old-fashioned way.
While you might want to think twice before putting a load of clothes in the dryer after every wash, using your dishwasher is often the most eco-friendly way to clean your kitchen utensils.
Why using a dishwasher can help you go green
Believe it or not, cleaning your dishes and pots in the dishwasher can use a lot less water than washing them by hand. In fact, if you have a modern dishwasher and it’s full when you switch it on, you could use three to four times less water than if you washed everything by hand.
Of course, running a dishwasher consumes energy as well as water, but the water savings still make it the better option. Plus, you can usually use a cooler temperature for washing in a machine, which saves energy on heating the water. The trick is to use the appliance consciously and to choose the ideal cycle for each situation. If you don't have a dishwasher yet, choosing the right model could also make it a lot easier to do your bit for the planet.
How to choose an eco-friendly dishwasher
Unfortunately, not all dishwashers are made equal. If you're in the market for your first dishwasher or considering an upgrade, pay close attention to efficiency ratings. Home appliances are tested for how much energy they consume during typical use, which gives them an efficiency rating that ranges from A to G. While A+++ is the best rating any appliance can receive, those also tend to be the most expensive models. The trick here is to go for the most energy-efficient dishwasher you can afford, as the savings do add up over time. To give you an idea, switching from a D to A+++ machine could cut your energy bill by as much as £47 a year.
The fact that it's best to run your dishwasher only when it is full makes smaller, slimline models a great option for households with only one or two people. As the name indicates, these modern appliances are usually around 15cm slimmer than the average full-sized dishwasher and come with helpful settings to optimise water and energy.
When buying dishwasher tablets, which of these is most important to you?
More eco-friendly dishwasher usage tips
Whether you own the latest model or just a regular dishwasher, here are some tips and tricks to help you save water and energy every time you wash the dishes.
Much like with your clothes washing machine, you should do your best to run your dishwasher only when it's full – to make sure that as many utensils as possible are being cleaned in a single wash. Having said that, it's also important to know which items are actually safe to put in the dishwasher, to reduce the risk of damage.
When you really can't wait until the dishwasher is full to run it, look for the ‘half-full’ setting on your machine, to reduce the amount of water used.
While there's no point in running your dishes under water before putting them in the dishwasher, don't forget to scrape off as much leftover food as you can from your crockery beforehand. Heavily soiled dishes won't clean well and the excess food can make cleaning your dishwasher a lot harder.
If your dishwasher comes with an eco cycle or an energy-saving programme, this should be your go-to selection for everyday dishwashing. Although these cycles tend to be a bit longer, they are the best option for the environment.
For dishwashers that don't have any water or energy-saving programmes to choose from, just select the most eco-friendly option. Not sure which this is? Check the manual. (Look on the brand’s website for a PDF if you’ve lost your paper copy.) Usually, the lower the heat, the more eco-friendly the cycle.
Rewashing dishes and utensils that come out of the dishwasher still covered in grease and food is a waste of time and resources. So be sure to use a decent quality dishwasher capsule that is effective at low temperatures.
Choose eco-friendly dishwasher capsules. These are made with fewer chemicals and more naturally derived ingredients. Look for ones that are powerful enough to work at lower temperatures.
When you leave dirty dishes inside the machine for too long, food scraps can become dry and harder to remove. That’s why it's a good idea to start your dishwasher as soon as it's full, so you can avoid consuming extra water and energy by having to run a pre-rinse cycle.
Instead of using the drying programme, open the dishwasher straight after the last rinse and let your dishes air dry. If you need to use them right away, grab a kitchen cloth and dry them the old-fashioned way. The heat necessary for the drying process is far from being energy efficient.
Have a chat with the rest of your household so that everyone knows the right way to stack the dishwasher and programme a wash.
What a relief it is to know that the dishwasher is not in fact a villain when it comes to doing your best to protect the environment.
Now that you know everything about using this appliance in an eco-friendly way, why not read up on how to solve the most common issues that prevent your dishwasher from running smoothly?
Saving water and energy: frequently asked questions
Is there a more sustainable way to do laundry?
ust as with a dishwasher, the most important thing to do if you want to make sure that your laundry is as sustainable as possible is to only turn on your washing machine when it's full. Yes, even if it has a special half-load setting. (However, don’t overfill your machine as that will affect its performance.) Also, select a cooler cycle and opt for the eco setting if your machine has one. Often, the most energy- and water-efficient setting is actually one of the longest ones. Longer settings give your clothes chance to soak, so they don’t need as many spins to get clean.
How can I save water while cleaning the house?
One of the best ways to save water at home is to reuse it. The water that usually goes down the drain while you wait for your shower to get warm, for example, can be collected in a bucket, and used to mop your floor. If you choose a floor cleaner that doesn't need to be rinsed off, you can save even more water. If you’re washing up by hand, part-boil the water in your kettle to heat it, rather than letting the tap run. Small actions like this add up over time.
Does a shower use less water than a bath?
If saving water is a priority for you, keep your baths to a minimum. To give you an idea, a five minute shower uses about 50 litres of water, while the average bath uses about 80 litres. So although the water savings do depend on how much time you spend showering, swapping your bubble bath for a swift shower can indeed have an impact on your household water consumption.