In the end, it’s pretty clear. But it always depends on how you do your dishes by hand, and how efficient your dishwasher is.
And the winner is…
As long as you fill your dishwasher all the way, and it’s a dishwasher that works well, you’ll save a good amount of water by letting the machine do the work. So go ahead and load the dishwasher to the max!
If you insist…
If you are the type who loves to do the dishes by hand, the best water-saving option would be to fill three sinks or tubs a little more than halfway. One will have soapy water for soaking and washing, one with rinse water, and one with second rinse water.
The 3rd bucket (2nd rinse) is optional, depending on how you feel about the exquisite purity of your rinse water.
The dirty details:
So many factors depend. Here’s the bottom line: the average automatic built in dishwasher uses 6 gallons of water per entire cycle. Energy star-rated dishwashers usually use 4 gallons per cycle.
When you calculate in the difference between heating the water for doing the dishes by hand or with a dishwasher, and other energy used, a fine working dishwasher that isn’t too old should probably be the most energy and heat efficient.
All things considered, it will always depend on the age and efficiency if your dishwasher versus your mad dishwashing water-saving skills. I wish you the best of luck! You’ll be hard-pressed to do the number of dishes in 4-6 gallons that your machine probably could do!
Low-water dish prep:
Be mindful of how much water you use when you rinse your dishes in preparation for the dishwasher. Know your dishwasher, and how well it works for you, in order to avoid over rinsing or soaking before the dishwasher.
Also, spray rinse things immediately, before food gets dried on, verses having to soak later. It’s a world of difference. Having a spray nozzle hose installed in your sink that actually has a lot of pressure will change your life, by the way. Invest in that upgrade for your home if possible to save even more water!
What not to do:
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT use your dishwasher as a sanitizing device after completely washing and rinsing your dishes. Thank you. If you have that much faith in your dishwasher to sanitize things, please trust it to get them clean as well. You will save lots and lots of water for the Earth by not going this route!
Sure, as long as you’re selective
If you have not tried a steam mop, do it!
Steam mops use a tiny bit of electricity to heat the water to a point where it actually disinfects your floor without chemicals or any cleaners at all!
Be eco-friendly with your microfiber
Take amazing care of any microfiber you own, because it’s really not great for the environment- specifically our waterways. Little tiny pieces of microfiber come off with every washing and from there, they can make their way into our rivers and streams, etc. Is creates the same dangers as microplastics as fish and other aquatic life accidentally ingest the microfibers.
Be Careful with steam.
Follow all instructions for your steam mop carefully. It’s important to never leave a steam mop sitting on the floor if it’s hot at all. It can ruin your floor very
quickly. They come with a base that you are supposed to set the steam mop on while it heats and cools.
There are many fantastic brands out there that give you extreme water savings with every shower, and still give you the water pressure you love to get you clean! You will use at least 1-3 gallons less eater per minute with a low-flow shower head versus a conventional shower head. How long is your average shower? Do the math and save a bunch of money!
Turn off the water when you brush your teeth and wash your hands
Have you ever considered how much water is wasted while you brush your teeth and wash your hands? Well, it’s a lot. Here’s a solution!
First of all, don’t turn the water on so high! It’s as simple as that. Try half way as high as usual or less next time.
Don’t run clean water down the drain.
Definitely keep the water turned off while you brush your teeth. There is no reason to have that water running down the drain for 2-3 minutes.
The same goes for washing your hands. It may seem like such a little amount of water in the moment. But how many times a day do you wash your hands? How many times per week? And how long do you suds and scrub your hands while the water runs? The general suggestion to kill germs is at least 20 seconds. Think about how this water adds up over time. It’s such a waste.
You don’t have to use your whole hand to turn off the water and get the handle all soapy. You can usually do it with one or two fingers. Give it a try! You will feel better about your contribution.
Less rush, less pressure, cleaner hands.
Besides, you’re supposed to scrub at your hands for over 20 seconds to really get ’em clean, while paying attention to detail like your grandma would have shown you. You can actually do a better job washing your hands without all that pressure from the water running down the drain , telling you to hurry up and finish already!
Shower less often, and try for shorter showers.
Everybody’s skin and hair varies of course, but generally, most people will be better off in the long run if they only shower every 2 to 3 days. It’s better for your body, and saves a lot of water!
If you find the right products for your skin and hair type, your body will adjust to this very quickly. Most commercial products keep your body and hair in the loop of creating excess sebum, making you oily faster.
In the summer or anytime, you can also turn off the water altogether while you soap up your body and hair. This actually feels great in the summertime when it’s hot out. You got that nice cool breeze on your wet body! Refreshing!
Consider taking a spit bath if you just feel less than fresh in certain areas.
Sometimes you don’t actually need a full shower. Do you know what a spit bath is? It’s the original cowboy way! Quickly wash your most important parts that are feeling less than fresh. Then just rinse the rest of your body if needed. That’s it! You will feel better!
Pick up your towels and hang them to dry so you can reuse them several times.
Let’s face it. If you’ve done a proper job in the shower, you are clean when you get out. So are all of your most important parts. It’s not so scary to reuse a towel more than a couple of times. Rewrite that old program. Washing towels after one use is a humongous waste of water. Be relentless with your kids about not leaving towels on the floor!
Are you worried about all of the dead skin on your towel? Exfoliate in the shower using a natural sisel fiber cloth or similar. You can compost them when they have outlived their life cycle.
No micro beads!
Do not use shower gel with micro beads as these are downright evil for the environment, and they don’t do a good job exfoliating you anyways. Plastic puffy loofah type of scrubbies don’t actually help you that much either, and are also horrible for animals and the landfill.
Warm up the tub
When you can’t resist a bath, make it worth the water! Warm up the tub by briefly rinsing it with hot water so that it is clean.
This is important for your own cleanliness anyways, and plays two roles. If you warm up your tub briefly by doing this, your bath water will take longer to get cold. Ah, science…
The cowboy way
Go old-fashioned with your bath. Don’t use a bunch of heavy oils in your water. Use products that will allow you to clean yourself with your tub water at the end of your bath, or no products at all. Don’t worry! You are going to rinse off at the very end…
A baking soda and/or epsom salt bath is probably the most cleansing and detoxing bath you can take. These additions relieve tension greatly, while cleansing you, and will allow you to wash the rest of your body with the bathwater at the end.
So instead of just making it a relaxing experience with oils, etc, choose to use that water to clean yourself at the end of the bath as well. Wash and rinse your hair by dunking your head, or fill a large cup and dump it over your head repeatedly at the beginning of the bath, while you are still filling the tub. Then at the end, clean your body, and rinse in the tub water.
After this, you can have a brief rinse with a shower to get the residue off and rinse your hair the rest of the way. If you do this, you may only use a little bit more water than a normal shower would take.
Add weights to use less water
Do you realize how the water level rises and falls when you get in and out of the tub? You can take this a step further. To use even less water, you can add weights to your tub. Try finding a rock or 2 about the size of your head or a bit bigger that you connect with, and making the rocks your new water saving bath buddies! If you use the same ones over and over, then in a sudden rock scarcity, you could use something made of trash, such as gallons full of water.
Don’t dump the water out of these gallons when you’re done. use the same water again and again. Or if you do, use it to water your plants. Extra weight will make the water level rise higher to cover your body, while using less water.
Watering plants with bathwater
Don’t do this if you’ve used baking soda or Epsom salts in your bath. It will kill your plants! But if you took a bath such as a natural bubble bath, or used your tub water to get yourself clean at the end of your bath you can definitely use this water on your plants or compost. Most natural soaps are good for plants and bad for pests.