Dishwasher or Hand-Washing? Pros and Cons to Both

Dishwasher or hand-washing? The choice is yours. There is really no wrong answer. You can use either method and still have sparkling clean dishes that smell like fresh rain and sunshine. Sure, dishwashers are easier and faster but there are a few things you need to consider before you pop that glass dish in the machine. More importantly, what are the pros and cons to each that you should consider when deciding which one is best for your household?

What are Dishwashers?

The dishwasher is a device that washes dishes and other kitchen utensils. Dishwashers can also be used to clean various types of containers, such as pots and pans automatically. The dishwasher cleans dishes by using detergent and hot water to clean off food debris. The dishwasher is usually placed under the sink, next to the sink, or behind the sink.

What are Dishwashers

The dishwasher is usually made of stainless steel and has a flat bottom with a built-in drain. It is usually connected to the cold water line. The dishwasher has two main parts: the upper part holds the dishes and pans, and the lower part holds a sprayer that sprays hot water onto the dishes and pans.

How Does It Work?

Dishwashers work by spraying hot water and detergent over your dishes, which are then rinsed with hot water and dried. The proper temperature is important: 140 degrees Fahrenheit kills germs and food residue, while the rinse cycle should be 180 degrees to make sure everything is really clean. It’s also important to load the dishwasher correctly — placing the dishes properly so they get sprayed from all sides.

The Pros Of A Dishwasher

1. Efficient

Dishwashers can scrub and sanitize your dishes more quickly and efficiently than you can by hand.

2. Energy-efficient 

Dishwashers use less energy and water than hand-washing dishes.


Dishwashers allow you to spend less time cleaning dishes so you have more time for other tasks.

4. Water conservation

Dishwashers use less water and electricity than washing dishes by hand, so if you’re concerned about conserving natural resources, this is a good reason to get one.

5. Sanitizing

A dishwasher cleans better than you do. It’s a fact that at 180 degrees Fahrenheit, a dishwasher can kill 99 percent of all bacteria on your dishes. Plus, because the drying cycle is so hot, your dishes will be dry so there is less chance of bacteria growth.

The Cons of Dishwasher

1. Detergent Costs

Dishwashers require dishwashing detergent in order to work properly and efficiently; however, this can be an added expense on top of the cost of running the machine itself. If you have a limited budget, you may want to take this into consideration before purchasing a dishwasher.

2. Sanitizing Ability

Because dishwashers function on getting items hot enough to kill bacteria and germs, if not used correctly they can actually create more room for bacteria growth. In order to prevent this from happening, it is important to rinse off any food particles before loading your dishes into the dishwasher.

3. Dishware Damage

Another disadvantage of dishwasher is that it can damage your fragile dishware such as crystal glasses, fine china and certain types of stainless steel if you don’t load them properly into the machine.

4. Energy Usage

Dishwashers use a lot of energy and water, especially when they are older. If you have an old dishwasher, it may be more cost-efficient to wash dishes by hand.

5. Cost-Efficient Method

Dishwashers are convenient when it comes to washing dishes. You can wash large loads of dishes at one time so that you save money on detergent costs and water costs. However, if your dishwasher is old, it may not be cost efficient to run it due to an inefficient use of electricity and water

6. Less Need for Pre-Rinsing

Pre-rinsing is required when hand washing dishes. When using a dishwasher, you do not have to pre-rinse your dishes, allowing you to save water usage and time as well.

7. Sanitization Level Dependent on User Attention to Detail

The sanitization level of your dishwasher is dependent on the attention to detail you give when you load it. If you don’t rinse off food before running it through the machine, it will not get clean. This can lead to food poisoning if you are eating directly off of these dishes or if you are letting them sit in the sink after washing them by hand. This is true whether or not you use a dishwasher.

What Is Hand-Washing?

Washing dishes by hand is the process of cleaning cooking utensils and crockery with water and detergent. It is usually done in a kitchen sink or with a dishwashing machine. Washing dishes by hand has also been called dishwashing, washing-up and doing the dishes.

How To Wash Dishes By Hand

Wash your dishes by hand if you want to save water and energy, enjoy the process and take good care of your dishes.  It’s really easy with a little practice.

How To Wash Dishes By Hand

Step 1: Rinse the Dishes and Utensils With Hot Water

Before you start washing dishes, rinse them with hot water. This helps to remove any food stuck on your plates or utensils. Don’t let the dishes soak for too long because the food will harden and be harder to clean off later. If a dish is really dirty, you can use a scraper to get rid of some of the food before you wash it.

Step 2: Wash Glasses and Cups First

Glassware should be washed first because it’s often dirtier than other items like silverware or bowls. Clean the glasses with hot water, mild liquid soap and a rubber spatula to ensure all of the food is removed. You can also use a scrubber sponge or wire brush if needed.

Step 3: Rinse Silverware One at a Time

Next, wash silverware one piece at a time so you don’t contaminate the entire sink with bacteria from one dirty fork. Hold each item under hot running water to remove any loose bits of food particles before putting it into the dishwater.

The Pros of Hand-Washing

1. It’s environmentally conscious. 

If you hand-wash your dishes carefully, you can use less water than the average dishwasher, which is known to waste water and energy.

2. You don’t have to rinse the food off first.

This saves time and makes hand-washing a quicker process.

3. It fights grease — and possibly dry skin. 

Washing dishes by hand allows you to clean your hands and keep them moisturized at the same time as you wash dishes, so it’s two birds with one stone.

4. You can avoid chemicals.

You can avoid chemicals

Dishwasher detergent contains chemicals like phosphates that may be bad for the environment. Hand-washing allows you to find more natural alternatives — like vinegar or baking soda — that are chemical free and eco-friendly, too!

The Cons of Hand-Washing

1. It takes longer.

2. It takes more effort.

3. You have to use hot water, which costs you money.

4. You risk developing arthritis in the hand you use to do the majority of the scrubbing if you don’t switch hands up every once in a while.

5. You risk scratching your glassware and tableware with harsh scouring pads and steel wool (it’s also not good for your skin!).

6. You can accidentally cut yourself or burn yourself with hot water or steam from running water (and there’s no one else to blame).

7. You have to stand there, watching it all happen and making sure it gets done right (no multitasking!).

8. You need a dish rack to dry everything neatly and properly, which takes up extra space in your kitchen (this isn’t much of a con unless you’re living in a small apartment).

Dishwasher vs. Hand-Washing: Which is Better and Why?

As water, energy, and time are all finite resources, it’s important to choose wisely when deciding whether to hand-wash your dishes or opt for a dishwasher.

Dishwashers are convenient but they can be costly and inefficient. Hand-washing might seem like the better option in terms of the environment, but that’s not always the case.

1) It saves energy

It takes hot water and electricity to run a dishwasher. If you are trying to save on your energy bills, or if you live off-grid and want to conserve limited resources, hand-washing can help. Wash using cold water and dry the dishes in the sun for maximum energy savings.

2) It’s environmentally friendly

Dishwashers can use a lot of water (sometimes up to 10 gallons per cycle), and they often require detergents that contain chemicals that may not be safe for the environment (or for our health). In contrast, hand-washing uses much less water and can be done safely with biodegradable soap.

3) It’s safer for certain items

Glassware and other delicate items can easily break in dishwashers. Although most people know this, sometimes accidents happen because we forget what we put into the washer. In addition, many people do not rinse their plates before putting them in the dishwasher, so food particles end up stuck on fragile items after they are washed.

5 kitchen appliances should not be putted into a dishwasher

1. Cast Iron Pans

If you love your cast iron pans, you should never put them in the dishwasher. Not only will it damage the pan, but it could also rust, discolor or wear down the pan over time. This could mean you have to replace your favorite skillet more often than necessary.

2. Wooden Cooking Utensils

Dishwashers can strip wooden cooking utensils of their oils and moisture from the heat, which can cause them to crack or warp. It’s best to wash wooden spoons by hand with warm soapy water and dry them immediately after use.

3. Wines Glasses and Beer Mugs

While it may seem like common sense not to put wine glasses in the dishwasher, some glassware manufacturers do recommend that consumers do so. However, if you want to extend the life of your wine glasses and beer mugs, hand wash them instead. Dishwashers can dull or damage the rims of these specialty glasses over time.

4. Nonstick Pans

Nonstick pans are fine in the dishwasher, but it’s best to hand-wash them to preserve the nonstick coating that makes them such a useful kitchen tool.

5. Aluminum Pots and Pans

Aluminum pots and pans are often coated with anodized aluminum, which means that they’re not able to withstand the harsh chemicals of the dishwasher. Hand-wash these instead.


1. How often should I clean my dishwasher?

Once a month, run the machine with a cup of white vinegar in place of detergent. The vinegar helps remove grease and soap scum. Don’t use caustic cleaners such as bleach unless the manufacturer recommends them (and most don’t). Every few months, check and clean out the spray arms.

2. How much money can I save by hand-washing instead of using a dishwasher?

The average cost of running an older dishwasher is about 12 cents per load, but only 4 cents if you use the low-energy setting. Running the tap for 10 minutes to hand-wash dishes costs about 60 cents and uses about 3 gallons of water.

3. Is hand-washing cheaper than using a dishwasher?

No. Hand-washing dishes is more expensive because it uses more energy and more water than a dishwasher.

4. Can I use any detergent for my dishwasher?

No, you should only use detergent made specifically for dishwashers — otherwise, you could damage your machine or end up with cloudy dishes and glassware.

5. What is the best way to wash dishes by hand?

First, fill one side of your sink with soapy water and the other with clean water for rinsing. Then soak all of your pots, pans and dishes in the soapy water while you work on scrubbing down the rest of them with a sponge or dish brush. When they are done soaking, just rinse them off with clean water!

6. What temperature water should I use when washing my dishes by hand?

You should use warm water. If you use hot water, it will make your hands dry and cracked. If you use cold water, it will take longer to get all of the grease off of your dishes.

7. What kind of soap should I use when washing my dishes by hand?

Neither bar soap nor liquid dish soap are ideal dishwashing soaps, but they can both be used. Bar soap is more likely to clog your drain and leave a filmy residue on your dishes. Liquid dish soap works better than bar soap at cutting grease and cleaning dishes, but it can also dry out your skin if you’re not careful about rinsing it all off of your hands before you turn off the water.


Ultimately, you’re going to want to wash your dishes in the most efficient way. Fortunately, both manual and automatic dishwashers have their own pros and cons. It’s up to you to determine how much time is worth saving, and whether or not the advantages of an automatic dishwasher are worth the cost versus the amount of time they save you.

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