Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dishwasher or no dishwasher

Our new house has no dishwasher.  (And it has a cool old sink with a double drain board.)  I was thinking about the pros and cons of having a dishwasher when my husband asked me what I thought about putting in a dishwasher.  I paused then said I was considering not having one.  And to my surprise he said he was thinking the same thing.  Now, years ago when our 4 kids were young we never would have had this conversation.  But now our dishwasher takes so long to fill up, because I refuse to run a dishwasher that is not full, that we run out of forks or plates.  I have had to purchase extra bowls and spoons to get us through until the dishwasher can be run.

So why would I want a dishwasher?  Well, it's great for sterilizing canning jars, but really how many times a years would I need that? 10?  15?  When I have a large number of people for dinner a dishwasher is nice to have.   Again, how many times would I need that?  10?  Several studies are quoted as finding lower water usage with the dishwasher vs hand washing.  But, no one ever gives a link to the studies.  Are they the same "studies" constantly be quoted and requoted around the internet with no real documentation?  The "studies" are quoted as saying the average dishwasher uses 8-10 gallons of water to run while the average hand washer uses 20-27 gallons.  I guess that depends on how one hand washes dishes.  I use a separate basin or the largest pot for my hot soapy water then rinse and do not leave the water running.  And I have items I can't put in the dishwasher like my copper pots/pans/nonstick fry pans etc.  Also my dishwasher doesn't work that well and I have to rinse the dishes for them to have any chance of coming out clean.  We also have very hard water which is hard on the dishwasher itself, clogging the holes and requiring frequent maintenance.  So if I add up the water usage from the dishwasher, the prerinsing, and the other things I need to wash by hand regardless, am I really saving water?  Especially since there is no way I use anywhere near 20 gallons to wash my dishes.

So why would I not want a dishwasher.  Apart from the water issues there is the space issue.  My new house's kitchen is small.  I could use the space that a dishwasher would take up much more efficiently.  Then there is the cost.  Do I really want to spend $500 on a dishwasher when I need so many other things in the new house?  And when we are talking about the environment and cost no one factors in the energy and resources to make the dishwasher.  You may save a little in energy usage by having a dishwasher, depending on how you wash your dishes, but how long would it take to counter the energy needed to manufacture the dishwasher?  And then the dishwasher has to get shipped to a store, more energy used, and the old dishwasher, if you were replacing one, has an energy requirement to dispose of it.

I also would need fewer cups, plates, bowls, forks, spoons, etc if we washed dishes more often.  No more pulling dirty forks out of the dishwasher and washing them so we could eat dinner.  And having fewer plates, etc would give me more space in my already limited cupboards.

So I think we will give having no dishwasher a try.  We can always decide we need one when we start renovating the kitchen, but for now I'm willing to go without. 

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