New Perspectives: Eco-Friendly and Economical Dishwashing

As any efficiency expert will say, water is one of the most wasted resources in the home. In addition to washing bodies (showers) and washing clothes (laundry), humans use an enormous amount of water washing dishes. So, when you want to go green in the kitchen, an immediate savings can be found by addressing issues in the dirty dishes department.

Here are a few suggestions to get you on track.

When a Machine Does your Dishes:
Purchasing an energy-efficient dishwasher is a great way to reduce costs and eliminate waste. However, if you can't upgrade to an Energy Star dishwasher, there are still ways to maximize your efficiency:

Only operate your dishwasher when you have a full load.

Scrape your dishes and rinse them off before loading the dishwasher – even if your model has a food compactor, it can become clogged or have to work that much harder to dissolve the particles of food.

Strategically load your dishes – many older models only have lower jets rather than jets below the top and bottom rack. This means if you have bowls or cups (anything to block the flow) on the bottom, the water never reaches the top rack and half of your dishes are not getting clean. Thus, by keeping slim, non-obstructive plates and pans on the bottom rack and bowls, cups and mugs on the top, you are giving all of your crockery a fair shot at cleanliness.

Along the same lines, make sure your cutlery is contained in the basket – utensils can become dislodged and fall to the bottom, directly in the path of the spinning jets, and cause not only permanent damage to the motor but also require a second wash to thoroughly clean that load.

When YOU are the Dishwasher:
Since the biggest cost of washing dishes comes from the energy required to heat the water, most people believe that washing dishes by hand can save more hot water. However, if you wash dishes several times a day, you may be eliminating any surplus you created. You can keep more of your savings if you:

Only wash dishes once a day.

Use a clean, double basin sink if you can – fill up one side with hot, sudsy water. Allow the dishes to soak and remove them one at a time, scrub them and move them over to the empty side. When you're done with the soaking, drain that side and rinse the soapy dishes with clean water at one time. Move them to a drying rack as you go.

Always air dry!

Whether in the kitchen, bathroom or elsewhere, what are some other cost-cutting and eco-friendly ways you have started saving water by going green?

A Home Depot sales associate in the Chicago suburbs, Jay Harris provides kitchen and bathroom tips to homeowners ranging from kitchen faucets and bathroom cabinets to sinks and light fixtures.