Dishwasher vs. Hand Washing Cost

Dishwashers have been in use for over a century.

There is still a debate about whether they are more effective than hand-washing dishes.

Indeed, dishwashers have progressed significantly since they were first invented, but the debate has continued surprisingly.

Especially with the advent of eco-friendly models.

This post will try to clear the air around dishwashers and hand-washing methods.

Let us compare their costs in terms of energy, time, water, and other financial stats to resolve this debate.

Power Usage

an image of dishwasher

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that washing dishes using an energy-star dishwasher saves nearly twice as much as hand washing.

There are steps you can take to ensure peak performance.

For example, always ensure that the dishwasher is run with a full load to get the most out of the hot water and electricity.

Energy-star dishwashers also have special sensors and efficient water jets that wash each dish only as much as it needs.

You can also skip the heated dry cycle to save even more electricity.

Most dishwashers use hot water to evaporate on their own once you open the door.

Related Reading: What Size Breaker For Dishwasher – Click Here.

Water Consumption

The most potent argument between running a load in the dishwasher and hand dishwashing dishes comes down to water usage.

As per the stats of The Alliance for Water Efficiency, about 3.5 gallons of water per cycle are utilized by Energy-Star dishwashers.

Whereas older models consume between 10 and 15 gallons.

While this is still somewhat of a wide range, it has no comparison to the amount of water used during hand washing.

Kitchen faucets use water at the rate of 1.5 to 2 gallons per minute, which is way more than the estimates for ordinary dishwashers for just washing a pile of coffee mugs.

On average, dishwashers use between 9 and 27 gallons, but this depends on washing methods also.

Most dishwashers come with an eco-setting, which helps you save on energy bills with the least effort.

Most people do not know their appliances have this feature, so it is always worth checking the front of your machine.

Running dishwater on the eco-setting can save water usage by 20 to 40% for each cycle.

Time Comparison

While nobody loves unloading the dishwasher, it still beats the manual soak, scrub, and drying process used in the old-school hand washing method.

EPA estimates that a household can save ten days a year by using an efficient dishwasher compared to washing by hand.

Dishwasher or Hand-washing: Which is cleaner?

Using a sponge might not be the best idea when considering hygiene, as the sponge is host to various germs.

Sponges are wet and porous, which, combined with food particles, provide an ideal environment for the germs to grow.

So you will have to regularly replace your sponge to prevent the spread of these germs.

Even if you are good at soaking and scrubbing the dishes by hand, sanitizing them can be tricky compared to a dishwasher.

Dishwashers can attain temperatures between 140 and 145 degrees Fahrenheit, enough to kill all the bacteria.

Dishwasher or Hand-washing: Which is greener?

The carbon footprint of a dishwasher is smaller compared to hand washing because a dishwasher consumes lesser water and energy.

Studies have found that over ten years, about 5,620 kgs of greenhouse gases (GHGs) were produced from hand-washing 32 dishes a week.

This is due to the energy used for heating the water.

On the other hand, 2,090 kgs of GHGs are produced by a dishwasher over the same period.

Hand-washing creates more than double the amount of GHGs as dishwashers.

You might also want to compare different detergents used in hand washing or dishwashing.

Most dishwasher detergents are eco-friendly and contain no harmful chemicals or toxic additives.

But if you do not own a dishwasher, then you will have to do some research to find the best washing detergents that don’t just clean dirty dishes but are also environmentally friendly.

Dishwasher or Hand-washing: Which is cheaper?

According to EPA figures, using an Energy Star dishwasher saves an average of $465 per year in energy and water bills compared to washing by hand.

You can skip rinsing your dishes before loading them in the dishwasher, which would offset the water and energy costs in the process.

Since the average cost of a dishwasher, including installation, is $970, you can recover this expense within two years.

With regards to water and energy bills, it relies upon your habits.

As a rule, if you run your dishwasher only once it is complete, you can save money by a good margin.

Related Reading: Why Is There Mold In My Dishwasher – Read More.

Dishwasher vs. Hand-washing: Pros and Cons

an image of hand washing dishes

Let us have a recap of our stats and summarize some essential details about the debate.

Hand-washing Pros

  • You can wash small batches of dishes quickly.
  • Delicate items can be washed without fear of damage.

Hand-washing Cons

  • Sponges used in hand washing host harmful bacteria, which can cause health issues.
  • Hand washing consumes more energy, water, and time.

Dishwasher Pros

  • A dishwasher saves energy, time, and water.
  • They provide better sanitation by using hotter water and high drying temperatures.
  • Dishwashers recover their cost in terms of energy savings within a few years.

Dishwasher Cons

  • They are not ideal for small-sized kitchens
  • Not all items are safe in the dishwasher
  • You may have to wait before running the dishwasher with a full load.

Related Reading: Dishwasher Safe Knife Set – Read More

The Verdict

There is no doubt that dishwashers make an upfront investment.

Although with time, the cost of dishwasher repairs can add up, particularly if you have to replace major parts.

Be sure to get professional advice from a well-reputed dishwasher repair specialist in this regard.

But considering their savings on utility bills, positive effect on the environment, and fewer wrinkled fingertips, dishwashers—particularly the EPA-approved energy-efficient models—are the real deal.