The Case for Handwashing Dishes

It’s been a decade since I’ve regularly used a dishwasher, despite having one right next to the sink for much of that time.  I find hand washing dishes is beneficial in five ways.

  • It saves electricity. I’m not running a machine to do the work, and I’m spending less to heat only a little amount of water for the sink versus a lot more of it in the machine.
  • It saves water. Instead of running an a dishwasher that consumes about ten gallons of water regardless of how full it actually is, I run the faucet (with a low flow) for just a few seconds with each dish, using only the amount of water necessary for the job; most of the cleaning is actually done with the sponge, not with the flowing water.  I simply scrub with one pass of the sponge and then rinse nearly at the same time.  I further eliminate wasted water by stacking all my dirty dishes on top of each other before turning the water on, and placing the utensils in a cup or bowl to catch the water coming off the item being cleaned, essentially letting them soak in “waste” water that is still nearly clean.  This saves our natural resources and lowers my utility bill—double win!
  • It saves time. I can normally hand wash in just a bit more time than what it would take to rinse off the plates before placing them in the dishwasher.  However, I don’t have to wait for an hour while the machine is washing and need to think about removing them later.  I simply wash then let them air dry in a dish rack next to the sink where they stay till the next time I use them.  I usually only put dishes away in a cupboard when I have company over.
  • It reduces odor in the house. I hand wash dishes immediately after use, so there isn’t time for the residue to fester and turn smelly while waiting for the dishwasher to fill up over the course of a few days’ use of dishes.
  • And the best part–it’s therapeutic! It gives me a small “win” every time I wash dishes, boosting my positive energy.  I know I’ve accomplished something productive and the world is a more organized, logical place as a result of my efforts.  

So what’s this have to do with minimalism you ask?  Well, our goal is to reduce distractions in our lives, and certainly a full sink of dirty dishes is one of those distractions that can easily be solved in an eco-friendly way.

Bottom Line:  Hand wash dishes to save electricity, water, time, odors, and relish in the therapy it provides.

Did you find this post interesting?  If so, check out our website at  If the subject material of this blog post caught your attention, I recommend reading our post on the happiest people in the world.

2 thoughts on “The Case for Handwashing Dishes

  1. I couldn’t agree more with the case for handwashing. It works well in our house. We only have a few of each kitchen item, so if we had a dishwasher, it wouldn’t be full enough to put on by the time the next meal came around and we needed the things in it, so we would inevitably end up wasting precious resources by putting it on half-empty. I think as a society we have become too dependent on machines doing things for us anyway. It really doesn’t hurt to just scrub a few dishes every once in a while!


  2. I know a doctor who doesn’t own a dishwasher because he says is healthier to hand wash. Sometimes too much sanitizing isn’t good. If you use HOT soapy water your dishes will be clean and healthy.


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