To answer this question, many factors need to be considered.

When washing dishes with the dishwasher, the determining factors are the chosen program, the consumption of the appliance, the detergent used and the quantity of dishes to wash, so whether it is used at full load or not.

When they are washed by hand , the detergent chosen and the amount of product and water used must be taken into consideration.

A twelve place setting dishwasher, when used with a full load, uses three to four times less water than washing by hand.

As far as energy consumption is concerned, it is not easy to determine how efficient the dishwasher is. It also depends on how the water in the house is heated, whether with gas or with ecological options, for example, photovoltaic solar panels.

On the hygienic level , however, there is no competition: no hand wash can compete with a temperature of 65 ° to eliminate bacteria.

We don't know for sure which is the greener option, but we can take some precautions to make both methods greener.

If you wash the dishes by hand

Choose an eco-friendly detergent

Use a detergent that is as environmentally friendly as possible, also depending on the options you have. Choosing a liquid detergent on tap or solid detergent purchased in bulk also helps to minimize packaging. In any case, you will find Ecolabel, ICEA, AIAB and CCPB certified ecological detergents in every supermarket. If you prefer to use liquid detergent, transfer it to a bottle with a meatball dispenser so you don't waste the product. Avoid using an excessive amount of detergent, the cleaning power does not change.

Use eco-friendly tools

Most of the tools we normally use for washing dishes are not recyclable. Once you've used the tools you already have at home, consider buying eco-friendly products.

Consider plant-based alternatives to sponges and brushes. Most ecological brushes are made of wood and natural fibers. The most common sponges are made of cellulose, or obtained directly from a plant, such as loofah. These options are compostable, so at the end of their life, you can throw them straight into the organic.

Use less water

Try to save as much water as possible. Filling the sink to the brim, for example, is an inefficient and wasteful gesture. If you need to soak them, you can use a tray half filled with water and detergent. Run the water in the sink only when it's time to rinse them.

Scrub the dishes with baking soda

If you need to remove encrustations or burnt residues from pans or pots, you can fill them with two tablespoons of baking soda for every liter of boiling water. Let it rest for a few minutes and voilà, you will be able to remove even the most stubborn scabs.

Choose the correct order

To minimize waste, the order in which the dishes are washed is also important. Soak the dishes and pots, preferably as soon as you have used them. Wash the glasses first, then the less dirty dishes and last the dishes with more encrustations. If possible, let your dishes air dry. It is more hygienic than drying them with a towel.

If you wash the dishes in the dishwasher

Select an effective cycle

Choose an ecological and effective washing cycle, so that you do not have to wash or rinse the dishes by hand before putting them in the dishwasher. It is a habit that many of us have that is definitely counterproductive if our intent is to minimize our environmental impact. After removing all solid food residues, clean the most encrusted dishes with a brush or sponge.

Choose an eco-friendly detergent

Even when using the dishwasher, it is important to choose environmentally friendly detergents. Also in this case, you can find Ecolabel, ICEA, AIAB and CCPB certified detergents in most supermarkets. If you can, opt for a loose detergent, for example, powder. If you need to use a rinse aid, you can replace it with citric acid. It is a perfect descaler.

Use the dishwasher with a full load

Run the dishwasher with a full load. Glasses, cups and bowls should be placed in the upper basket to avoid overloading the basket. Pans, pots and plates are placed in the lower basket and cutlery in the cutlery holder.

Vittoria Tomassini