Okay, so hand washing dishes is a total drag—not just because it takes so long that you can feel wrinkles forming, but the process can waste a ton of water if you're not careful.
Dishwashers have come a long way in a short time, with the latest Energy Star-qualified dishwashers using as little as three gallons of water and one kilowatt-hour of energy per load, according to the NRDC. And while this is great news, it still leaves many of us in the lurch—either because we can't afford to have one of these fancy schmancy unicorn machines installed, or we're mere apartment dwellers with no say in the matter.
Luckily, efficient hand washing is a close second in terms of electricity and water use, especially if you have to choose between washing dishes by hand or using an older model of dishwasher. Here's how to score clean dishes with as little water (and elbow grease) as possible:
1. Install an aerator
According to the NRDC, installing an aerator in your faucet can save three to four gallons of water for every minute your tap is running.
2. Wipe food off your plate right away
The sooner you wipe excess food off your plate, the easier the process of washing dishes will be. Make sure to scrape your dishes as thoroughly as possible.
3. Use less soap
Most of us use way more dish soap than we need, and more suds means using more water to rinse them off. Instead of squirting the soap directly into your dish water, mix one cup of water and one tablespoon of soap in a small bowl. Dip your dish rag or sponge into the bowl as you go along. Believe it or not, this one tiny bowl of water and soap can successfully wash about two sinks worth of dishes.
4. Use two basins
If you don't have a double-sink, using a bin works just as well. One basin should be filled with hot water for cleaning, the other with warm water for rinsing.
5. Wash your dishes from cleanest to dirtiest
This serves a dual purpose: One, your grimier dishes will have more time in the hot water, making them easier to scrub when you get to them; two, your tub of rinse water will last much longer.
6. Scrub, rinse, repeat
Scrub each dish, thoroughly dunk them into the rinse water, and place them on your dish drying rack. If your water starts to get dirty and greasy, let half of it drain and add fresh water. You can save up to 200 to 500 gallons of water a month by not leaving the water running as you rinse. Cha. Ching.
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Dirty dishes image via Shutterstock