My dishes get a helping hand (Day 118)…


Another appliance bites the dust today, as I unplug — at least figuratively speaking, I’m not sure I can actually reach the socket — my dishwasher.

Now, I know there’s a lot of debate in the green blogosphere about whether dishwashers use more water than handwashing or less, but it sort of depends on the unit itself, how modern and efficient it is, whether or not you’re using the appropriate cycle and/or the air-dry function, the quantity of dishes getting cleaned, etc.

All I know is that my dishwasher sucked to begin with, and after I switched to Seventh Gen detergent, things got worse; I kept having to rinse everything beforehand, then soak the spoons afterwards to get all the persistent oatmeal residue off. On top of this, because I have so much stuff that needs to be cleaned by hand anyway, like my French press and champagne flutes, it would end up that there’d be a massive pile of dishes in the sink every night and only a couple stinky bowls in the dishwasher.

So I figure as long as I’m careful about how much water I use, keep it cold or lukewarm rather than hot, and rinse sparingly, it’ll be best to do my dishes with old-fashioned elbow grease.

Photo courtesy of Wenspics at Flickr

23 Responses to My dishes get a helping hand (Day 118)…

  1. Nada says:

    We unplugged the dishwasher a couple of weeks ago. Our machine is very good but using the eco-powders meant that we had to wash on the hottest cycle or rinse everything beforehand. It was a pain! Not efficient at all.

    With the switch off, our power use has decreased by 20% and we are using less water too. I was really quite surprised by the change.

  2. sue says:

    The Seventh Generation liquid dishwashing soap is wonderful! It was the first green one I tried and it works better than Dawn for cutting grease.

  3. Jen (SLC) says:

    A lot of the dishwasher more natural detergents for dishwashers like Seventh Generation suck. I have a gray water system from my dishwasher, so I really don’t want to use something that’s full of chemicals. I finally found Ecover Tablets. They’re awesome. They clean really well and they don’t leave any film.

  4. Hellcat13 says:

    I love washing dishes by hand. I put on a great CD, stare out the window, and just enjoy the peace.

  5. Deb C says:

    I, too, am finding that Seventh Generation dishwasher detergent leaves a little (ok, a lot) to be desired. Too much water wasted pre-rinsing and they still don’t come clean. I will definitely try the Ecover Tablets for large loads, but there is something soothing about handwashing those small loads.

  6. Rachel says:

    I’m sure it depends on your personal level of squeamishness, but what I understand is that you need hot water to wash, but the rinse water can be cold. So I put a plastic bin in the left side of my sink and run the faucet into it while I wait for the water to heat up and use that as rinse water. Then I put everything except the super greasy stuff into the other side and let it soak in the hot water for awhile. Once it’s soaked I come back and scrub any remaining residue off, then dip it in the cold water to rinse. There’s no way this process uses more water than my dishwasher. BTW, I know you don’t have Trader Joe’s up there, but for our readers who live in the states their dishwashing liquid is awesome, has no icky ingredients, and it only costs $1.99 last I checked. I have three children, so we have a lot of dishes, but like Hellcat says, I stare out the window and enjoy the meditative time.

  7. chris says:

    I’ve just come across this blog and am enjoying reading your previous posts.
    As regards dishwashers, this is one of my pet hates I’m afraid. I’ve read claims that they are greener than hand washing,but these are always comparing the best A rated washer with the most useless hand washer and never, as far as I’m aware , take account of the manufacture of the beast to begin with. How much energy has been used to construct the machine in the first place? Dust to dust as they (sometimes) say here in the UK. Each component has a ‘footprint’ that has to be accounted for, but rarely is. I could go on, but won’t you’ll be glad to know!!!

  8. denise says:

    Since we have an electric hot water heater, I heat water for dishwashing on our gas stove instead. I put a pot on the rinse side of the sink to catch the rinse water, and reheat the caught water for the next round of dishwashing. The bonus to this method is that I have very hot water for washing and the dishes take much less time to get clean this way.

  9. I have a post today asking people about their favorite natural cleaners, some of which include their favorite hand washing and dish washing detergents. I can’t wait to try them out!

  10. activistmommy says:

    I’venever had the luxery of a dishwasher, though I’ve dreamed about one often. LOL So I’ve had to learn how to wash the dishes using as little water as i can, with safe soap, and using the water afterwards to water my garden. Though I still feel a little unsure, even with what is marketed as safe soap, about it being on my plants.

  11. Lesley says:

    I do something like what Rachel above described and I feel like I’m saving water (even if it’s just a little bit) — a tupperware tub w/ hot soap water, scrub the not too greasy stuff, then just turn on the faucet to rise it all quickly. Of course, greasy pots and pans need extra attention. I agree on Trader Joe’s soap too!

  12. nichole says:

    I’m so glad you brought this up! I switched to 7th Generation dishwasher detergent right when I moved into my new apartment. It was my pledge when I moved, to go greener. Anyhow, I suspected it was the detergent but thought it possible it was the machine.

    Hmm, I’m going to have to figure something out. I just cannot wash or touch my roommate’s dishes..he leaves them in the sink covered in peanut butter or veganaise….

  13. Karen says:

    I concur with other posters about 7th Gen vs Ecover–the Ecover has enzymes, and works great; the 7th Gen doesn’t, and doesn’t work well. I try to use the dishwasher efficiently (packing it full and well), and wash larger things by hand, with lots of soaking when needed. Our dishwasher is efficient as far as how much water it uses, but it takes the hot house water and heats it up more using electricity, whereas if we use hot water from the tap, it is heated much more efficiently using the house hot water heater, and getting it a little less hot.

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