It takes less water to wash dishes in an automatic washer than to wash the same load by hand. Studies have shown that the average hand-washed load uses 27 gallons of water, while the same load in an efficient dishwasher could use as little as 4 gallons -- and come out a lot cleaner!

If you don't have a dishwasher, you can still reduce the amount of water you use while washing dishes.

  • Scrape food residue off plates before washing
  • Begin washing before the food dries on the dishes
  • Do not pre-rinse the dishes under running tap water
  • Use two sinks -- one with hot water and detergent, the other with cold water for a quick rinse
  • Clean with the amount of detergent recommended by the manufacturer

If do you have a dishwasher, use it, especially if it's a new one. A full, energy-efficient dishwasher cleans best and has the lowest environmental impact of any cleaning method.

  • Run the washer only when full
  • Scrape food residue off plates before placing them in the washer
  • Use the pre-rinse cycle on your dishwasher when you feel you must rinse before the washer load is full. The pre-rinse cycle still uses less water than rinsing in the sink

If you're shopping for a new dishwasher, purchase the most efficient model feasible. The Center for Energy Efficiency (CEE) has developed a list of energy efficient dishwashers, many of which are also water-efficient.