Dish Washer or Washing Up by Hand? Which is more Eco Friendly?

I’ve never fully understood the logic behind people who state using a dishwasher is more eco-friendly than washing up by hand. I mean, comparing using a bowl of hot water and a squirt of washing-up liquid against a machine plugged into the National Grid, sucking out the power and blasting the dishes with boiling hot water has always been a bit of a no brainer to me.

But according to a study carried out at the University of Bonn by Professor Rainer Stamminger in 2004, he concluded that, if used correctly, machines are far better.

However, before you go slapping your dishwasher on the back, what Stamminger’s results actually show is that the most efficient dishwashers on the market use less energy and water than the worst human dishwashers. Washing up by hand can actually be perfected and therefore, be as eco-friendly as a machine.

For instance, the worst washing by hand culprits were those that pre-rinsed off food debris in cold water, then rinsed off detergent again in cold water and those that used too much soap product. To effect a good hand washing technique you should scrape food off with a knife, have one bowl with hot water for washing and a cold bowl for rinsing. This way you will only use around 30 litres of water and 1kWh of energy.

washing pages by hand

As for dishwashers, typically most machines will use 103 litres of water and between 1-2 kWhs of energy. However, reports by the UK Environment Agency state that the newer A rated for energy efficiency models will use around 16 to 18 litres of water compared to the huge amounts older models did over ten years ago, and are these days much more energy-efficient. And, as with washing by hand, there are numerous ways to make your dishwasher even more eco-friendly.

Always fill it up to the maximum level, do not rinse off any food debris before you put plates and saucepans into the machine, skip the drying cycle and let your items air dry instead, and use a lower washing temperature, the ‘eco’ button or economy choice on some machines.

One thing to point out however is that the energy required to produce and manufacture the machines is not calculated, nor is the transportation of the dishwashers and the environmental impact this has on the planet is added into the equation.

And this is all without considering the environmental impact of the detergents needed for a dishwasher, as many dishwasher tablets use phosphates to help with anti-scaling which then contribute to the process of eutrophication.

Eutrophication is defined as an increase in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus that increase algae growth. Depending on the degree of eutrophication, severe environmental effects can develop, which degrade water quality. So if you have a newer model of dishwasher then it is worth buying an eco friendly detergent that contains less phosphates.

dirty dishes

So now that it has been established that dishwashers can be eco friendly, which are some of the best? See below for our findings:

Bosch Logixx EcoSilence SMS69L22GB – £579


Bosch Logixx EcoSilence SMS69L22GB


Bosch Logixx EcoSilence SMS69L22GB Full-size Dishwasher offers everything you could wish for in a premium 14-place dishwasher, including outstanding efficiency, ultra-quiet operation, and the long-lasting quality you would expect from Bosch.

Boasting a noise level of just 38 db(A) in operation, the Bosch Logixx EcoSilence SMS69L22GB Full-size Dishwasher is claimed by its manufacturer to be the quietest dishwasher on the market. In addition, it has an A+ energy efficiency rating, and A ratings for both washing and drying performance.

The Bosch Logixx EcoSilence SMS69L22GB also sports a huge range of advanced features, including an innovative Intensive Zone for heavily soiled items, tamperproof controls with a child lock, and a generous electronic display for full details of the six available programmes and five washing temperatures.

The various racks and cutlery storage features are incredibly versatile and adjustable to match almost any dishwashing requirement! Uses 10 litres of water per wash.

Beko DWD4311W Full-size Dishwasher – £195

Beko DWD4311W Full-size Dishwasher

The Beko DWD4311W Full-size Dishwasher delivers power and speed in a sleek white package with a 12-setting capacity and a super fast 30-minute quick wash option.

Rated AAA for energy efficiency, washing and drying performance, the Beko DWD 4311W dishwasher offers a range of contemporary features including five wash programmes and four temperatures, fully adjustable racks and supports, hot-air drying and an electronic control panel with indicator lights.

Good-looking, durable and dependable, the Beko DWD4311W Full-size Dishwasher is a kitchen assistant you’ll always be able to rely on! Uses 15 litres of water per wash.

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