Here’s a picture of our dishwasher that we shared during our Be Intentional Challenges – we enjoyed reading this guest post from Jay and look forward to implementing his tips in the future!
Conserve while you Clean your Dishes
If you are looking for easy ways to go green, one of the best places to start is in the kitchen by addressing issues in the dirty dishes department. Whether you want to cut some corners with your dishwasher or implement more eco-friendly techniques in your hand-washing routine, lighter carbon footprints and energy bills are right around the corner.
If you do not have an energy-efficient dishwasher and are unable to upgrade at this time, no worries! There are many ways to efficiently energize each cycle of your trusty dishwasher and here are just a few:
- Pre-scrape all dishes;
- Ensure no tall plates or upright utensils are obstructing the movement of the sprayers: when they can’t spin, they can’t clean;
- Make sure there is nothing preventing the soap dispenser from popping open during the cycle;
- If your dishes are not in need of a deep clean, use your washer’s “Light Load” function whenever possible.
Although you should only ever run your dishwasher when it has a full load, sometimes you need to clean what you have without waiting for more dirty dishes to pile up.
Here are some dishwasher-friendly items that you wouldn’t automatically think of to help you supplement your dish load in the washer and ease your mind about running a wasteful cycle (some of these are more advisable if your dishwasher also has a “sanitize” function):
- Toothbrush and toothbrush holder – to avoid these becoming lodged in the spinning arms or falling to the bottom, stick these in the utensil basket (not lying down on the top rack);
- Mouth guards and retainers – enclose these in the silverware caddy’s “trap” portion with a lid (also used for baby bottle caps, jar lids and liquid medicine measuring cups);
- Ice tray – it’s a good idea to toss these on the top rack every so often anyway to ensure a clean receptacle for your cubes;
- Pet bowls and dog toys – you might want to punch the sanitize button for when these dishes join the top rack!
You can actually save even more water and money in some instances by maximizing your hand-washing routine. And this conservation effort is free (how many eco-friendly updates can you say that about?)!
Here’s a step-by-step guide to hand-washing using a double-basin sink under your kitchen faucet.
- Making sure both basins are clean, fill up one side with hot, soapy water. Turn off the water at this point.
- Set up a drying rack and place a towel or shallow pan underneath.
- Leave the other side empty, as this is where you will place all of your sudsy dishes until ready for rinsing.
- Place your pre-scraped crockery in the hot water and allow them to soak as long as necessary.
- Scrub the dishes and place them in the other basin to await the clean water. You might consider washing your dishes largest to smallest so you can stack them and wash utensils last.
- Once all of the sudsy dishes are in the clean side, empty the soapy side and turn on the water – as hot as you can stand it – to thoroughly rinse off the dishes one at a time before transferring them to the drying rack to air dry completely.
And don’t forget about cleaning your sponges. One way to zap the germs from a well-used sponge is just that – zap it!
Place a wet (not soaking) sponge in the microwave and leave it on High power for 2 minutes. Make sure all of the steam has subsided before attempting to remove it but once it’s safe you can move it over to the rack to air dry.
As an added bonus, the steam produced by the sponge has broken up all of the grease and grime inside your microwave, making clean-up as simple as a single wipe down of the interior. Just don’t wipe it with your fresh sponge – use a paper towel or napkin instead.
Although you can drastically reduce your water consumption by hand-washing your dishes under your kitchen faucet, you can also defeat the purpose if you wash too many small loads, too often.
A good practice is to only wash dishes once a day. Many people prefer to do this at night as you have accumulated your daily total of dishes and they will have overnight to dry – not to mention how zoning out over the sink for a few minutes can be very relaxing after a long day!
What other ways have you discovered to conserve water from your kitchen sink or bathroom faucets?
Jay Harris, a Home Depot sales associate in the Chicago area, is a regular contributor to the Home Depot website. Jay writes on kitchen and bathroom topics, ranging from kitchen faucets to bathroom vanities.