Washing Up By Hand

Man vs. Appliance – Who is the More Efficient Dishwasher?

You’ve probably in your lifetime heard someone proclaim “I don’t need a dishwasher, I have my mum/kids/significant other” (delete as applicable). But did you know these human “dishwashers” may be inferior to machines? The myth that hand washing is cleaner, uses less water and is more energy efficient than using a dishwasher is not quite on the money. It does depend on makes and models of course, but dishwashers have the potential to beat human hands hands down! Let’s compare the two.

How Much Water Is Used?

Splashes And Droplets Of Water
You may think the amount of water used in a hulking great dishwasher will be way more than in a humble washing up bowl. But dishwashers are more water efficient than most people realise. They don’t fill up completely with water; instead a small amount of water is heated at the bottom of the dishwasher then fired through jets at the dirty dishes. These jets spin the spray arm at the top too, so it works like a sprinkler.

You’d need to change the water in your washing up bowl a fair few times to wash a whole dishwasher’s worth of dishes by hand. That would definitely use more than 7 litres of water and according to Which? this is the amount used by the most efficient dishwashers. So dishwasher, you win this round.

How Much Energy Is Used?

Modern cold fill dishwashers are actually very energy efficient. Heating a small amount of water in the dishwasher doesn’t use much energy and manufacturers compete to make the most efficient machines – nothing like a bit of healthy competition to benefit us consumers! To get the most bang for your energy saving buck choose the economy setting when running your dishwasher and research energy ratings when buying a new machine.

As for hand washing, we’ve established that it uses more water and all that extra water needs to be heated. So hand washing can potentially use a fair bit more energy than switching on your dishwasher.

It’s not looking good for the old fashioned method, but at least you can be sure when you wash by hand you’re cleaning your plates really thoroughly. Well…

How Clean Is Your Washing Up?

Open And Loaded Dishwasher
Human beings aren’t perfect. Fact. Most of us are a little bit guilty of the occasional dish washing crime, missing food remnants on plates for example or not changing the water until it’s taken on the appearance of a muddy puddle. Modern dishwashers on the other hand kill bacteria by washing at toasty temperatures too hot for hands and even have dirt detectors so they know how much washing your plates and cutlery need. And as an added bonus washing the dishes in hotter water means the water evaporates easily so the dishes dry more quickly.

One thing to remember for a hygienic dishwasher though: clean the appliance itself.  Run a dishwasher cleaner (ideally one like ours that also removes limescale) through the machine once a month and clean the filter which catches all the food scraps washed off your dishes too. That way you can trust your dishwasher to keep your dishes sparkling.

Anyone Got the Time?

Unless you’re the National Washing Up Champion, which would be impressive as it’s a title we’ve just made up, washing an entire dishwasher load by hand will take a long time. And if you hurry the task along you’re more likely to do a shoddy job (sorry). Loading the dishwasher seems like a chore… until you move to an abode without one and find out the true meaning of getting your hands dirty. Some may find washing dishes peaceful and therapeutic (trust us, these people exist) but there’s no denying the dishwasher is more convenient.

So all in all we have no choice but to come to the conclusion that the dishwasher is a wonderful appliance. As long as you run it when it’s full and scrape your plates before putting them in to avoid blocking the filter you can be sure your dishwasher will give you a wonderfully efficient clean.

If you only have a small kitchen though, with no room for a dishwasher, you can still streamline the washing up. Wash lightly soiled items first to keep the water clean for longer and soak grubby pots and pans prior to washing to use less water rinsing and scrubbing them clean.

As for the final victor we’ll let you decide; who do you trust most to do the dishes in your house? Man or appliance?


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One Comment

  1. Mick

    on May 16, 2016 at 8:19 am - Reply

    Good site lots of useful information

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