The 2 Worst Dishwasher Mistakes You’re Probably Making

published Oct 5, 2017
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A few weeks ago, we spent some time talking to Ted Lindeman, a professor in the biology and biochemistry department at Colorado College. We originally wanted to know which packing material he preferred for bagged lunches: plastic zip-top bags, aluminum foil, or plastic wrap. (He picked the bags as long as we all promised to use each bag at least five times before tossing them — and that when washing them between uses, we use just a little bit of not-too-hot water.)

But then he said two things about dishwashers that stood out to us even more than his unpredictable pick (we thought for sure he’d pick the foil, but that came in second place). Here are the two dishwashing mistakes we’ve been making. Are you making them too?

1. Running the dishwasher half-full.

“The heating of dishwashing water is one of the most environmentally costly things we do,” says Lindeman, adding that it falls after driving instead of biking. So if you’re gonna do it, you’ve gotta make sure the thing is full. Washing just a few dishes with all that hot water? Well, that’s just really not worth it.

2. Using the dry cycle.

A dishwasher is far, far more efficient, if you air dry your dishes instead of putting them through the drying cycle. In fact, Lindeman cites an old study on coffee cups that found that one use of a dreaded Styrofoam cup is far more efficient than a ceramic coffee mug — unless you use effective washing methods in a dishwasher (without hot water and no drying cycle) and re-use it over and over and over again.

Of course these facts are not news to us in any way, but it’s the way he explained them that stopped us in our tracks.

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