Here comes the bit where I am a huge freaking dork: I just had to know how it could be true. (Or if it even was true, since that would be a real kick in the ass if I lost the perfect excuse to be a lazy slob!) As it turn out, dishwashers do not operate at all as I had expected.
To see a great explanation check out this article at HowStuffWorks.com. In a nutshell the dishwasher does not continuously pull water into the system, but instead fills a bit of water into the unit, heats it independently of your household water heater, and swishes it around until the dishes are clean. This bit then drains, is replaced by rinse water that drains when the dishes are clean. The heater then dries them off and viola, clean dishes with two relatively small batches of water.
Once I realized that it works a lot less like a car wash and a lot more like a washing machine, how it could be more eco-friendly makes sense. Granted, certain conditions must be met:
- Don't pre-rinse the dishes. This uses a ton of water and most modern dishwasher don't need you to do this.
- The dishwasher must be full so as to maximize the dishes washed for the investment of water and energy. Between bottles, sippy cups, and the fact that we use no paper plates, cups etc, this one is easy for us.
- The dishwasher must be loaded correctly for the same reason. Check your manual for directions on how to best utilize the sprayers.
- Don’t use the dryer, just let them air dry by opening the door a bit.
- Use a “green” dishwasher detergent. You can make your own by combining 2 parts Borax to 1 part Baking Soda and getting it all to do the job by putting white vinegar is the “jet dry“ dispenser. (I confess I have not tried this, but I will grab the stuff next time I see Borax and give it a whirl…)
So there you have it, your PSA for the day. Thanks to Heidi for inspiring the research. Don’t we all feel smarter now?