Greenest Way to Clean Dishes ... Dishwasher or Sink?

2020 Winner is ...

March 9, 2020
Sink & Diswasher

John Keeble / GettyImages


Which is the Greenest more efficient way to wash your dishes .. Dishwasher or Hand Washing in the Sink? Everyone has their own opinion, but several studies have a winner. In 2005, researchers from the University of Bonn found the Dishwasher to be the WINNER, using only half the energy and 1/6 of the water it takes to Hand Wash Dishes in the Sink. 

Jump ahead 15 years, a new study coming from the Environmental Research Communication journal shows pretty much the same results:

Best Washing Techniques:

  • 40 participants loaded and ran a Dishwasher without pre-rinsing the dishes
  • They used the normal cycle w/ heated dry, rinse-aid and high-quality detergent. 
  • The machines were fully loaded.
  • The same participants also washed dishes by Hand in the Sink using the 2-basin method - dishes are soaked and scrubbed in hot water, rinsed in cold water and air-dried.

Typical Washing Techniques:

  • Most don't load their dishes properly w/ the rack spacing, and pre-rinse their dishes before loading into the Dishwasher
  • Many run the tap when washing dishes by Hand in the Sink, which wastes a significant amount of water and rinse with hot water

During a 10 year period a Dishwasher uses around 6,300 gallons of water. Hand Washing in the Sink with the same quantity of dishes by hand for ten years will use 34,200 gallons.

Best washing techniques the Dishwasher was the WINNER over Hand Washing in the Sink. The Dishwasher was also half as bad as Hand Washing in the Sink when using improper techniques washing dishes. THE DISHWASHER IS THE 2020 WINNER! 

*This study was conducted w/ help from Whirlpool who provided the sample machines, and their employees loaded the machines. The data analysis was carried out by independent researchers at the University of Michigan*