Green Dishwashing by Guest Blogger, October 29 2009, 0 Comments

Photo courtesy of Estefanía Rodríguez Mancilla via Flickr.

It's easy to assume that washing dishes in the sink is more energy-efficient than installing a big, energy-guzzling machine to do the work for you. But dishwashers, if used properly, can be much more resourceful than washing by hand. The difference is in the details—so here are some tips and tricks for the absolute best way to use your dishwasher.

  • Only run the dishwasher when it's full. This may seem obvious, but don't be tempted to wash just half a load to clean your favorite coffee cup or salad bowl. If there's empty space, the dishwasher still uses the same amount of water, even though it's essentially washing air.
  • Buy an energy-efficient model with the EPA Energy Star label. Like many things, dishwashers have improved significantly over the years. New models use less energy, clean plates more thoroughly without pre-rinsing, and run quieter so your dinner guests can carry on their conversation while the machine gets to work on the dishes. Energy Star requirements were updated in August 2009, so for the best possible benefits, buy a machine made after August 11, 2009.
  • Don't pre-rinse. You should certainly scrape off excess food (into the compost bin if possible), but dishwashers nowadays rarely require anything more. If you notice that plates are coming out stained or spotty, a quick swipe with a sponge or wet rag before loading could solve the problem.
  • Use eco friendly dishwashing detergent. Some detergents contain phosphates and other chemicals that are harmful to nearby water bodies, so choose a biodegradable detergent that is not petroleum-based.

Guest Blogger: Amelia Apfel