There are plenty of reasons to own a dishwasher. Perhaps the biggest one on your mind is ease of use. Yes, dishwashers give us permission to be lazy. Washing dishes can really be a pain; you have to scrub away, really putting a lot of elbow grease into it sometimes to get those last bits of old, encrusted food off your nice new china. Who wouldn’t prefer to just be able to stick the dishes in a machine. But did you know there are actually good reasons to own a dishwasher? And that in fact, you’re actually being environmentally friendly in doing so?
The best reason to own a dishwasher is that it will almost certainly reduce your carbon footprint. Straight up. The reason is that the way most of us hand-wash dishes –under a constant stream of scalding water — is incredibly wasteful. And I really mean that “incredibly,” as in “very difficult to believe.” This can use almost 8000g CO2e (CO2e is “Carbon Dioxide Equivalent” is the conventional laymen’s measurement of the climactic impact of an action, totaling the impact of all the greenhouse gases caused by an item or activity rolled into one and expressed in terms of the amount of CO2 that would have the same impact); conversely, a dishwasher running at 130°F could only use 770g CO2e. That’s less than a tenth the measure for conventional hand-washing. It’s also only marginally more carbon-intensive than using far the far less effective method of washing by hand with sparing, mildly-warm water, which most people don’t do anyway.
The reason the difference is this dramatic is that most people get their hot water from gas-powered boilers while dishwashers use electricity to heat up cold water; while electrical generation is generally less efficient than gas heating, most people will use such a dramatically larger amount of heated water, so while gas may be technically more efficient, actual usage favors the dishwasher. Dishwashers are also simply more effective at keeping your dishes clean and relatively sterile; hand-washing using water sparingly will often leave up to 400x more bacteria on the surface of your dishes. In fact, dishwashers in the United States are required to meet NSF standards for sanitation which mandate certain levels of dish sterilization, which you will simply never be able to meet washing by hand.
To summarize, dishwashers use less water, less energy, pump less CO2 into the atmosphere, all while getting your dishes much cleaner than you could on your own. In other words, dishwasher ownership and use can be seen as a form of responsible environmental stewardship, and you should use yours fearlessly. For best results, use only when full, and make sure you’re using the appropriate settings. Be sure to keep an eye out for the Energy Star label, too, to be sure you’re getting the most energy-efficient product in its category. Whether they’re Whirlpool dishwashers, GE dishwashers, Bosch dishwashers, Frigidaire dishwashers, or any other manufacturer, dishwashers as a rule are great ways to exercise responsible conservation of the planet’s resources.
There are other benefits, too. So let’s go into those, too.
First, you’ll save money. Because they use less water and less energy, you can expect to save around $100 a year with regular and appropriate dishwasher usage as opposed to hand-washing. Additionally, your dishes really do get much cleaner and more hygienic due to the dishwasher using far higher temperatures than human skin can tolerate. With a strong detergent, your dishes will be rendered virtually sterile and preserved from exposure to the sorts of bacteria that can build up on exposed, wet sponges.
Not to omitted is having a cleaner kitchen due to dishes not hanging around in the sink or dish rack, so there’s simply more space available and far less visual clutter and exposed food.
They’re also not difficult to use or maintain, so you get all the benefits enumerated above without any difficulty in operation or upkeep; dishwashers with hard food disposal spare you even having to rinse your dishes first, as they can adequately deal with any chunks of leftover food remaining on your dish surfaces. And many quiet dishwashers operate at near whisper-quiet sound levels — often as low as 40 dB — which means that these aren’t loud, clanking machines, so you also get cleaner, safer dishes and a smaller carbon footprint in near silaence. Most of these benefits can be extended to portable dishwashers and countertop dishwashers as well, which means that in situations such as rentals, sublets, and co-ops where you can’t install a full-service dishwasher you can still get a workable dishwashing solution. These small form factor dishwashers are single-load dishwashers usually limited to holding around six place settings, and are usually more than enough for homes with only one or two people. They’re inexpensive, easy to maintain, and don’t require extensive installation, while offering you all the benefits of larger units.
So there you go. Dishwashers are a sound investment, good for the environment, and better for your home than washing your dishes by hand. They’re certainly worth considering.