Person with rubber gloves on washing the dishes at the sink

Should I hand-wash dishes or use a dishwasher?

It is almost impossible to tell whether it is better for the environment to wash your dishes in the sink by hand, or to use an energy-efficient dishwasher. Whichever option you choose there are ways that you can cut the energy used to clean your dishes, helping to make your household a greener place.

Here are a few suggestions on how to make your kitchen chores more energy-efficient, whether you have a dishwasher or you wash your dishes by hand!

Top tips for an energy-saving dishwasher

  1. Choose the most economic programme on your machine.
  2. Fill your dishwasher as much as you can before using it.
  3. Electricity is cheaper at night if you are using a night saver meter, so try to find a dishwasher which has a time setting on it to make use of the best rates at night.

Not only can dishwashers be energy-efficient, used correctly they can also save a lot of time, clean better and be more hygienic for your family.

For those of you who hand wash the dishes, here are some ideas to make even the toughest of pans use less of your time and energy:

Energy-efficiency by hand washing

  1. For really tough stains make sure that you pre-soak dishes in a bowl of hot water with washing up liquid instead of rinsing them.
  2. Don’t leave the tap running when doing the washing up, put the plug in the sink or use a bowl.
  3. Rinse your items in a separate bowl after washing them, not forgetting to turn the tap off when doing so.

Read more Energy efficient fridges and freezers

Does my dishwasher need replacing?

The more modern the dishwasher, the more likely it is to be energy-efficient. Newer machines have a cold water system as opposed to the old hot water systems, making them better for energy-saving. If yours still runs on hot water, consider upgrading to a more energy-efficient machine.

How to choose your energy-efficient machine

Usually the more energy efficient a dishwasher is, the more expensive they are to buy. However you should not be put off by this, as in the long run they will help reduce the cost of your energy bills.

Like many electrical appliances, each machine should feature a label marked with an energy-efficiency rating. Where possible aim for an ‘A rated’ machine for top results or as close to this as your budget will allow.

Another important factor to think about is the size of your dishwasher. Although larger dishwashers are the most water and energy-efficient, this is dependent on the machine being full to capacity so ensure the machine doesn’t exceed your needs. Measure your kitchen and other appliances before you look around to get the best fit for your household.