Eco Friendly Tips for Washing Dishes

Eco Friendly Tips for Washing Dishes. There is nothing better than a hearty meal and a full belly. Your mind drifts to images of decadent desserts, or to the couch in the living room that seems to be beckoning you with plush pillows and a comfortable throw. You push yourself from the table, stretch your arms in contentment, and look over your shoulder to find piles and piles of spattered and sauce-caked dirty dishes.Ah, the joy of cleaning dishes.

Many families dine from paper or foam plates in order to avoid the pain and agony of scrubbing dirty dishes. Sure, it is more convenient, but considering that an average American family of four dines three times a day from foam or paper plates (and let’s not forget that paper plates often have to be doubled in order to uphold the weight of the food), that is a minimum of twelve plates hitting the trash a day. And that is assuming no additional plates are used to serve dessert, as serving plates, or as snack holders throughout the rest of the day. Now, multiply that times thirty days, and you have an average family of four going through at least 360 plates a month. That equals 4,320 disposable plates a year.

Why not give your real dishes another try? Rather than wast­ing money and resources on disposable dishes, consider using your reusable, sturdy, never-leak-food plates and washing them with a small amount of water and soap. You will be saving money and going green at the same time. Some may say that washing dishes leads to wasting water. You do have to use water to wash, there is no way around that, but according to the American Water Works Associa­tion using your dishwasher may be the easiest and greenest way out of washing dishes:

  • Depending on your brand of dishwasher, you use between 9 and 12 gallons of water a load.
    • There are newer dishwashers available that can lower that number to 7 gallons of water a load. These dishwashers usu­ally come with an ENERGY STAR label stating that they have been approved, through the U.S. EPA guidelines, to save energy.
    • Hand washing often uses as much as 20 gallons of water.

Considering that many of us only use our dishwasher once a day or every other day whereas you may hand wash dishes three times a day, it is more efficient and wastes less water to use your dish­washer. With newer dishwashers falling under the ENERGY STAR program, we can expect a surge of new environmentally friendly dishwashers. If you are not in the market for a new dishwasher, there are ways to conserve energy and go green with your old one:

1. Don’t pre-rinse.

One of the water traps when using a dish­washer is rinsing your dishes before you put them in. The easy way to avoid using excess water to rinse as well as elbow grease is to try a load without rinsing. Yes, you may have to scrape and wash some dishes again. But you will know the full capability of your dishwasher. And once you know whether the dishwasher can or cannot get that caked food off your dishes, then you will be able to adequately judge how much water is needed to pre-rinse. There is no need to use excess water without first finding out if it is even necessary. In many cases, especially with newer dishwashers, very little rinsing is required before running a load of dishes. Why waste more water when your dishwasher will do the dirty work?

2. Fill ‘er up!’

Another way to save water and energy is to only run the dishwasher when it is completely full. Washing a few dishes uses the same amount of energy and water as running a full load. So, load up and squeeze in every dish possible. Get creative and find room for that last glass!

3. Turn off the heat.

Although many dishwashers offer the option to heat-dry your dishes, if it is possible, turn off that option. It is nice to open a newly run dishwasher and find little to no water on your dishes. However, if you just let them sit a little longer, they will air dry, and you will save energy in the process. Look at it this way, the longer they take to dry, the more time you have to do other things. Like lie on the couch and sleep off your meal. It is the same as letting your dishes dry in a rack, so give it a try.

4. Go green with detergent.

If you want your dish washing expe­rience to be extra green, try using an eco-friendly dish­ washing detergent. They are competitively priced, and they lack phosphates that often tend to journey to our oceans and waterways. According to the NRDC website, phosphates can cause oxygen depletion and excess algae growth in our wa­terways. Without sufficient oxygen, fish and other aquatic an­imals can die.If you don’t have a dishwasher, you can still save water by wash­ing with a conservative hand.

You can always hand wash by filling the sink, but it isn’t necessary, and it can lead to excess waste through rinsing and refilling the sink. When you think about it, if you fill your sink or one side if you have a double sink to wash your dishes, by the time you reach that tenth plate, how clean is that water?Washing your dishes with this next method saves more water than filling a sink and rinsing after each dish:

  • Scrape any excess food off the plates and into the trash. Don’t allow water pressure to do what a little elbow grease can.
    • Rinse the dishes with water.
    • Turn off the water and scrub with soap and a wet cloth. Or you can use one of those handy soap filled scrubbers.
    • Try to clean as many dishes as possible before rinsing them again.
    • Turn on the water long enough to rinse again. And try to rinse them all at the same time.

If you have a double sink, place all dishes on one side in a drying rack and rinse them together. This will avoid using water to rinse each individ­ual dish.The easiest and greenest way to clean your dishes just happens to be the laziest. So, go ahead and lounge on the couch. Relax, di­gest, and sleep while the dishwasher does all the dirty work!Great Green Tip Try dining by candlelight with your spouse, partner, roommate, significant other, alone, or with your kids. Take the time to relax and unwind. Or curl up with your favorite book, and allow the ambiance and the soft, flickering candles to do their thing. If you want to go that extra green mile, use soy candles to create that glow.