Paper -vs- Plastic. Hand washing -vs- Dish washing. Cloth Towel -vs- Paper Towel. We have all heard the seemingly timeless debates. But recently several studies have come out in the UK showing that dishwashing is better and more efficient than hand washing. Yet others have come out showing that handwashing is more eco-friendly than dishwashing. Why the difference?

In the first study, the most careful hot-water handwashing just about beats a fully loaded dishwasher. This is partly because most people (in the UK at least) do their manual washing up using hot water heated by a gas-fired boiler, whereas dishwashers heat water from cold using electricity. The second study however favors dishwashing because it uses only half the water and only 1/6 of the energy. Much of this matters not though when you consider the cost of an Energy Star dishwasher.

Some of us simply cannot afford dishwashers or live in homes that are too small to fit one. Tiny House would be just one of those homes. So how can we, the dishwasherless, clean our dishes in an eco-friendly manner?

Use Eco-Friendly Dishwashing Soap. While I admittedly not used the following five green dishwashing soaps I have used three and have researched the other two. They are all affordable (less than $5 per bottle), come in 100% recyclable containers, and smell pleasant without leaving sensory residue behind.

  • Method Dishwashing Liquid in Go Naked
  • Seventh Generation Dish Soap, Lavender Floral and Mint
  • Planet Ultra Dishwashing Liquid, Hypo-Allergenic
  • LifeTree Dish Soap
  • Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Dish Soap

Use less water. You don’t need to fill the sink up to the brim. A half-sink full of water is enough, even less if possible. I think about all the times my family went camping. Momma had one dish pan and we only filled it about half way. This took care of all plates, bowls, and utensils. If she had a pot or pan to clean she would put a small amount of water inside the pot or pan along with some dish soap. It was almost an instant sink and a great use of space.

The Dip-Cup Technique. Fill one large glass with soap and water. Get a scrub brush. Dip the brush into the glass. Scrub dish. Repeat. I don’t particularly like this method unless I only have 3-4 dishes/silverware to clean. The water quickly gets dirty and oily.

One Rinse Method. Instead of rinsing off every dish one and at a time, try rinsing the entire dish rack at once. Once you’ve washed the dishes, give the dishes a quick once-over with the spray nozzle or the “dip-cup” to remove soap.

Recycle the shower water. Okay. I know how it sounds. But don’t do your dishes in the shower. Instead, after you’ve cleaned your hair and body and the majority of that soap is gone, plug the drain. Finish your shower. Put the leftover hot water in a pan. Boil it. Put water in sink. Do your dishes. Yes, it is a little more time consuming. However, if water conservation is what you are looking to do, this is a great option!

And what about your preferred method of washing? Do you have one? Is your dishwasher something you couldn’t live without? Do you know of a soap that was overlooked in #1? If so, let us know. And as always, please share this link or Tweet out the link so that others can read as well!


Originally written for my weekly entry on