7 Benefits of Washing the Dishes By Hand

January 21, 2018 at 7:41 pm

For the last half-century many of us have been conditioned to believe a dishwasher is a convenience we can’t live without. In recent years, we’ve even been led to believe the machine is more environmentally responsible than washing dishes by hand.

Below are several reasons that’s not true, plus some surprising benefits of washing dishes by hand:

1. People who hand-wash dishes have better gut flora and fewer allergies.

A 2015 study of 1000 Swedish children found those whose parents washed dishes by hand were significantly less likely to develop eczema, asthma and hay fever.

The findings are the latest to support the “hygiene hypothesis,” which says the sterile environments of children in developed countries are contributing to allergies.

Thanks to anti-bacterial soaps, hand sanitizers and spending too little time around animals, children aren’t exposed to as many bacteria and other microorganisms as they used to be, depriving their immune system training to recognize microbial friend from foe.

2. Hand-washing dishes can be meditative and stress-relieving.

A 2015 study found that washing dishes mindfully could be therapeutic, increasing feelings of well-being and decreasing anxiety.

Study participants were asked to wash 18 dishes “mindfully” — with intention and focus, contemplating the sensory experiences of the act like the warmth of the water, the feel of dishes and the smell of the soap.

The control group was given directives relating to proper dishwashing techniques instead of mindfulness instruction.

The mindfulness group reported increased positivity and decreased nervousness, while the control group reported no change.

3. Hand-washing dishes can save water, if done right.

While most “experts” — probably paid by the dishwasher industry — insist dishwashers use less water than hand-washing, they’re not usually comparing apples to apples.

While most Energy Star dishwashers use about 5.5 gallons of water per load, older models use 10-15 gallons.

While one study says hand-washing a full load of dishes can take up to 27 gallons of water, permaculture author Paul Wheaton demonstrates how to do it with one gallon below:

4. Hand-washing dishes can save energy.

Most of the energy consumed by a dishwasher is used for heating water. So assuming you’re using less water, you’re also using less energy.

Also, you’re not using electricity to cycle the water or heat dry the dishes afterward.

If you want to save even more energy you can use warm or cold water. If you’re concerned about germs, scroll back to point #1.

5. Save yourself from doing the job twice.

As much as my dad insisted they would, the dishes never came out of the dishwasher clean without pre-washing, especially after he bought the new Energy Star machine. So at his house, we had to rewash several of the dishes again after they came out.

At my mom’s house, we were required to pre-wash the dishes so thoroughly in the sink, it was almost pointless to machine wash them afterward. But she was a germophobe, and insisted.

As you can see, in either scenario, most of us are probably using more than 5 gallons of water to machine-wash, even if it is Energy Star.

6. Save money by not buying a dishwasher.

Energy Star dishwashers cost at least $1000, and the cheaper ones cost you in the long run.

7. Keep toxic electronic waste out of a landfill.

Eventually dishwashers die, and when they do, they end up in a landfill or in Africa, polluting the environment and harming people’s health.