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Use Less Water When You Wash Dishes



It’s up for debate whether dishwashing or hand-washing is more “green,” but regardless of your method, you can save water! Small changes – like skipping the pre-rinse cycle or using less detergent – can add up to major water savings. Here are a few tricks that will conserve water and still get your dishes spick-and-span.


How To:

  1. 1

    Scrape thoroughly. Instead of having water do all the work, scrape your plates when they’re still dry. By putting solid scraps in the trash or the compost pile (if they’re compost appropriate), you’ll save the water you use to run the disposal.

  2. 2

    Keep your dishes close. Do you hand wash your dishes? If so, instead of starting your water and then reaching for dishes one at a time, place your scraped dishes in a pile right by the sink.

  3. 3

    Fill your sink. If you’re hand-washing your dishes, fill a sink with warm, soapy water and then shut off the faucet. Clean your dishes with the water in your sink instead of letting the water run the entire time you’re washing. If your water starts to get dirty and greasy, let half of it drain and add fresh water. By not leaving the water on, you can save 200-500 gallons a month!

  4. 4

    Read the soap’s label. According to the New York Times, most people use 10 to 15 times more soap than they need. If you’re using too much dish soap, you’ll need more water to wash away the suds. Read your dish soap’s label and follow their instructions. If you still feel like you’re using too much, use less and less until you’ve found the perfect balance of squeaky clean/minimal detergent usage. Bonus: You’ll save money!

  5. 5

    Skip the pre-rinse. If you use a dishwasher to get your glassware clean, then a pre-rinse is unnecessary! Your dishwasher can handle a little bit of residue, so scraping the solids off is enough according to Consumer Reports. By skipping this step, you’ll save 6,500 gallons of water a year! Note: If your dishware has food that’s been burnt onto it, you’ll need the pre-rinse.

  6. 6

    Load the right way. When you’re loading your dishwasher, keep water flow in mind. The easier it is for water to reach each dish, the less time it will take to clean (which means less water used). Load large items at the sides and lack of the dishwasher so that they don’t block water. Face the “top” or dirtier side of the dish toward the center of the machine so it’s hit directly with the detergent.

  7. 7

    Test your dishwasher. Run a full load of dishes on the absolute lowest setting and shortest cycle. If your dishes aren’t clean, test a cycle that’s a little bit longer. After a few tests, you’ll find the cycle sweet spot that will clean your dishes with the lowest possible amount of water used.

  8. 8

    Run full loads. If you’ve enjoyed a dinner for one, there’s no need to run your dishwasher after you eat! Each dishwasher cycle uses the same amount of water, even if it’s only cleaning one or two dishes, so wait until it’s full. This simple move can save over 400 gallons of water a month! Tip: To help yourself remember if your load is dirty or clean, consider a magnet like this one from thetullebox Etsy shop.

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