I hate loading and unloading the dishwasher, but not as much as I hate washing up. I hate everything about it, even the way my hands feel afterwards from being in the washing-up gloves. But last week, I gave the dishwasher a break and washed up all week long, giving me a chance to reflect on the pros and cons of the faithful dishwasher.
Hands or machine?
Using a dishwasher saves time, but what about the environment? There have been studies into the carbon footprint of using a dishwasher vs doing it by hand, in which the dishwasher seems to come out on top when compared with how most people wash up. Although these figures do include the environmental cost of manufacturing the dishwasher, the footprint for the use in each household will be different so don’t take them as fact that it’s best to use a dishwasher. There are many factors to consider: is the water used for washing dishes by hand already heated? Do you leave taps running when washing up? Do you put the dishwasher on when it’s not fully loaded? Do you use the most economical setting? Do you set the dishwasher to come on at night? Do you have solar panels? Do you rinse all of your plates first? How efficient is your dishwasher?
Dishwashers are more hygienic than our humble hands, leaving fewer germs. But it appears that we’re all capable of surviving even with our less-than-optimal washing up, so that doesn’t seem to be an important point.
Studies have also shown that the running cost of a dishwasher is cheaper, although they seem to forget the cost of getting it in the first place! You can buy a lot of Fairy Liquid (other brands are available) for the hundreds you’d spend on a dishwasher.
Overall, I don’t think there’s a definitive answer as to which is best. So choose whichever feels right for you and then do that method in the most environmentally and cost-effective way possible. I guess the most important thing is whether you can use your time washing up effectively (see below), or whether your time would be put to better use elsewhere.
Turning a chore into more
Here are my tips on how to make washing up a little more enjoyable. It’s not all bad!
I discovered this week that there’s something relaxing about washing up if you don’t see it solely as being a chore. You get to process what’s gone on the day. Remember the good things; think of how to deal with the bad. Maybe see it as washing away the dirt of the day, not just of the dishes.
What can you feel? What can you hear? Be in the moment. Nothing else matters but where you are right now.
Use the time to talk to your children while they dry up.
Part of the routine
People sleep better when they have a set routine – we’re all just like babies really. So incorporate this into yours. Let it be the start of the cooling down period for the day.
Don’t put it off
The trick is to not let it stack up until it becomes a mammoth task. Keep on top of it.
Will I go back to using the dishwasher this week? I think I will. Will I get another one once it stops working? Probably not.