Dishwasher vs hand washing


Is the Dishwasher or hand washing better?

Creating a sustainable lifestyle means developing new habits. Yet, there are hundreds of misconceptions behind which habits are the right ones. Some are easier than others to categorise.


For example, using a refillable hand sanitiser like Purdy & Figg is more eco-friendly than a plastic hand sanitiser bottle that you cannot refill. Other habits are not so easy to determine, such as, whether to use your dishwasher or hand washing. In this blog, we’ll take you through both variations and their impact on the environment. That way, you can make a judgement call on which habit is more sustainable in your home..

Pre wash, warm water, air dry, hot water all have an effect on your energy and water efficiency. You can get energy efficient dishwashers which help with some energy saving. In fact most modern dishwashers are much better than old models.

Why use your dishwasher?

For decades, people have been saying that dishwashers are bad for the environment. The energy used to heat the water, the volume of water in use, and the electricity involved to run the machine. However, as we’ve mentioned, these issues were first discovered decades ago. Since then, dishwashers have evolved tremendously to incorporate sustainable options that reduce their impact.

A lot of dishwashers now only use 60 litres per cycle (the equivalent of a tap running for 10 minutes). They have eco-friendly settings where you can opt for a cooler temperature, and you can opt for them to forget the pre-rinse cycle altogether. The dishwasher itself is no longer the issue when it comes to creating a sustainable habit, it is how we use it.

If you’re an eco-wizard the thought of this might set you on edge. Sadly, millions of people still pre-rinse their dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Yes, they run the plates under a tap, rinse off the majority of the dirt and then put them in the dishwasher. It’s a huge waste of water and it’s one quick way to move your dishwasher into the ‘unsustainable’ category. If your dishwasher isn’t powerful enough to clean your plates from the off, it isn’t worth having.

Another issue with dishwasher use is when people only partially fill it. For a dishwasher to be efficient and eco-friendly, they need to be full. There isn’t a button to tell the dishwasher it’s only half full so only put half the water, energy and electricity into the cycle. Fill your dishwasher, don’t pre-rinse your dishes, and there’s no reason to not use your dishwasher. In fact, sometimes it can be more eco-friendly than hand washing!

Why should you hand wash dishes?

If you don’t have a dishwasher to fill and clean your dishes, then there’s nothing wrong with heading back to basics with a washing up bowl. Believe it or not, there is an unsustainable way to wash dishes by hand, so listen up, you don’t want to fall into these bad habits.

First of all, never leave the tap running. A running tap uses 6 litres of water every minute, and when water goes down the drain its carbon footprint triples! The key to washing your dishes by hand is to reduce the amount of water in use. So fill up a bowl, get scrubbing and do a short rinse before leaving it to dry.

Here’s a pro tip - if you use dish soap sparingly you won’t need to use as much water to rinse the soapy suds afterwards! It’s not about the bubbles, it’s about getting the plates clean.

If you do find that your soapy water becomes more food than soap, there’s nothing wrong with getting a fresh bowl, but make sure you’ve scrubbed off all the worst bits from your pots and pans before doing so. That way you’ll be able to keep your second bowl cleaner for longer.

Of course, after you’re done washing dishes, make sure you keep your own hands clean. If you want to truly create a sustainable habit, don’t turn the tap back on to scrub your hands clean. Instead, get all the bacteria off by using Purdy & Figg eco-friendly hand sanitiser.