STUDY: People Who Hand-Wash Dishes Have Better Gut Flora and Fewer Allergies

Don’t wash your dishes too well! Super hot water and anti-bacterial soaps are killing good gut bacteria!


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, pasteurization and super hot water, 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.


16 responses to “STUDY: People Who Hand-Wash Dishes Have Better Gut Flora and Fewer Allergies”

  1. Gaye Avatar

    I will often come from outside having done a couple of little gardening jobs wanting to wash my hands and will wash the dishes to get my hands clean and soft. Thereby doing two jobs at once and not wasting water.

    1. RHW Avatar

      And transferring “orgalc fertillizer” (i.e. Fecal material), how ever much diluted, to your dinnerware, air or towel-dried @ room temperature…

      1. Becky Avatar

        But it contributes to a healthy gut.. bet we healthier

  2. David Woodroffe Avatar
    David Woodroffe

    What a surprise, lazy People and those selling dishwashers were lying to us.

  3. rachel banks Avatar
    rachel banks

    glasses are washed first in a sink of really hot water, then the crockery & cutlery. Lastly the pots and pans. All in the same water! put in the wire rack on the draining board to dry. Not a lot of water used (one sinkfull)and not much electricity for the hot water. Of course you might have hot water from your wood burnig stove, so even cheaper!! Germs have never been a problem, we even water down the fairy liquid!

    1. Eva Avatar

      I like your order – I do the same. How do you rinse your dishes? I couldn’t see the method he used in the video. I rinse under the tap which uses a lot of water.

  4. egw Avatar

    additional point: what about the soap residues left on dishes – dishwasher soap is generally harsher than dish soap and generally contains chemicals one would be best advised not to eat. Besides affecting your over all health this would, most likely affect your gut biome.

  5. S Avatar

    most dishwasher detergents are also very toxic

  6. Cathy Brooks Avatar
    Cathy Brooks

    I love washing my dishes by hand. I have arthritis and along with the above mentioned reasons I find that the warm/hot water soothes the pain.

  7. Justin Avatar

    How do you rinse the dishes after washing? Should we skip that, in order to save more water?

  8. Steve Hall Avatar
    Steve Hall

    Also a study found hand washing to be less efficient so a thin film or at least specks of biomass is left on the dishes. Typically enough to keep your immune system active without harming you.

  9. Marlene Avatar

    Sorry, but I disagree. I washed dishes all my life until I finally moved into a house with a dishwasher. Washing dishes is my least favorite chore. I use a half-ink full of soapy water (it doesn’t have to be hot water) to pre-rinse the dishes before putting them into the dishwasher, and they never come out needing to be rewashed. At age 63, I think I deserve to have a little “me” time for things other than washing dishes. It’s time consuming, and it does not relieve stress for me; it makes stress knowing I have this chore in front of me. That’s my two cents. Thanks!

  10. ELWassa Avatar

    And the young moms will tell you if they didn’t have a dishwasher , they’d be standing at the sink all day washing dishes if they have a big family. Things have changed and I just love my dishwasher when I have a lot of company. Other than that, we’re emptynesters now and I do wash most dishes by hand.

  11. Deej Avatar

    I like doing dishes to warm up when I’m cold, and as a transition after guests leave or at night.

  12. Paula Avatar

    I have removed the dishwasher in every house I’ve ever lived in. I renovated my kitchen in my last house and did not have a dishwasher installed. Here’s why I don’t like dishwashers…Plates and silverware go in the bottom, glasses,cups are turned upside down and put on the top rack; the jets spray the food off the plates and silver on the lower rack and shoots it into the glasses on the top. If it is not completely rinsed off, the drying cycle dries it onto the glasses. Second reason, dishwasher take the design off your dishes and make your glasses cloudy. Third and most important reason why I hate dishwashers…you begin to empty the dishwasher and get interrupted…someone else comes by and puts their dirty dish into the return from your interruption and continue to empty the dishwasher unaware of the dirty dish which now ends up in the cupboard. I’ve seen this happen many times. As far as hand washing, I have 2 sinks. I wash in one and put several pieces into the 2nd sink before turning on the water to rinse. Water from rinsing the first dish also rinses the others, thus saving water.