If you spend any amount of time in the kitchen, you know how much water is needed to run it. With the recent report on climate change, it’s more important than ever to be conscious of water usage wherever possible. Let’s take a look at some ways to reduce water usage and waste in the kitchen.

Know Your Dishwasher Settings

If you’ve got an older dishwasher, chances are it’s using 2-3 times as much water as an energy efficient dishwasher. There’s even a difference between older and newer energy efficient dishwashers. 

Models older than 1994 used anywhere between 10 and 15 gallons of water for every load of dishes. The first round of efficient dishwashers cut that down to 4-6 gallons, an impressive leap. Further still, manufacturers have whittled that number down to 3 gallons on average with the current models. 

The time it takes to run the dishwasher though… You’d think that using the one-hour setting of your dishwasher would cut down on water usage; less time means less water, right? Not so, unfortunately. Longer cycles spend more time “scrubbing” dishes to get them clean, in turn a shorter cycle uses more water to compensate for the reduced amount of time it’s given to get dishes the same kind of clean. 

Avoid Heated Dry settings. This again requires more energy and money to get the temperature hot enough to dry the dishes. The Air Dry setting, or simply opening and leaving the door slightly ajar when the cycle has finished will dry your dishes just as well and lower the amount of energy and money it takes to run it. 

But My Dinosaur Dishwasher Doesn’t Get All The Food Off

Truth. Especially with older models, the amount of food and grease stuck to the dishes after they’ve run a complete cycle is frustrating to say the least. Pre-washing seems like the solution. But that’s extra water to removes grease and other food particles in addition to the 4-15 gallons of water used during the actual wash cycle. If, however, you’re not able to switch to a newer, energy saving and competent dishwasher just yet follow these steps to get your dishes clean without breaking the water bank:

Scrape all food off the dish and into the trash can (or compost bin if you’re really fancy) and rinse the remainder with a scrub brush and splash of water immediately after using. Time is of the essence with this tip.

  1. Fill your sink with enough water to cover the bottom and with a sponge, dish cloth, or scrub brush, wash remaining food off of each dish and place it directly into the dishwasher. The water will get gross and icky, but it’s going to be sanitized, so don’t worry. 
  2. For grease and oils, use baking soda to clean the dish. Sprinkle it onto the dry or damp (but not soaking wet) surface and scrub with your fingers or a cloth. Quick rinse (or a dunk in that dirty sink water) and into the dishwasher it goes. 

These tips, while using water in addition to the dishwasher, when done right can still reduce the amount of water you use and still clean your dishes adequately. At the end of the day, it’s better than just letting the water run while you move from dish to dish.

Odds and Ends

Lastly, it’s important to remember to always wait until the dishwasher is full (but not overly packed). In a perfect world, every night before bed the dishwasher would be loaded and run. Wishful thinking for many people, but a goal worth striving for nonetheless. If there’s a dish you absolutely need, but your dishwasher isn’t even half full and you don’t have the time it takes to run a normal cycle, roll up those sleeves and give it a good old fashioned hand washing. It will need to be washed after this meal anyway, may as well use it and eat a good dinner.

In 2015, it was reported that dishwashers are the least used appliance in the house. However, busy lives will always keep these machines in demand. Soon as you are able, switch your dishwasher to an energy efficient model and save yourself even more money and water. Make the investment to change all your appliances over to energy efficient products over time. Whatever small steps can be taken to conserve resources should be taken asap. In the meantime, Happy Washing.