Washing Dishes the Green Way?  Not really possible.  But we can try to mitigate the problems while we all move the family to the second floor and trade in the car for a boat.  It is our theory that the biggest culprits in in-efficient dishwashing are:
    A)  In-efficient Dishwashers
    B)  Poorly performing dishwashers which have trained users to Rinse each and every dish
If we can re-train the users, and steer you all clear of the dishwasher lemons, we’re 50% to Nirvana.


  1. Using your Dishwasher 
    (trust us, you have no idea)
  2. Testing your Dishwasher
  3. Buying a better Dishwasher
  4. Handwashing


  1. Building a better Dishwasher
  2. Detergents


  1. Better regulations for Dishwashers
  2. Dealers / CKDs / Builders


Only the engineers who designed it, really know how to use your dishwasher, the rest of us are idiots to varying degrees.  So don’t feel so bad.
– Only run full loads, not half loads, not partial loads, full loads.  If it’s not full, wait for the next meal when it will be full.
– Never rinse your dishes before loading them.  Scraping off the food chunks is more than enough.  If you must rinse, ONLY use cold water, or better yet, use standing water.
– Load the dishwasher so that the water jets can reach all the dirty places.  
– Never use the "Rinse and Hold" feature
– In dishwasher culture as many of you know, there can be only one person per household, the Dish Master, who can operate the dishwasher.  This Dish Master must learn the ways of the dishwasher, gain the respect of the dishwasher.  When others attempt to load the dishwasher, the Dish Master must respond by sneering at and ridiculing said trespasser for his or her dishwasher incompetence.  Passive-Aggressors need not apply.  The Dish Master, once chosen will be responsible for dish loading until he or she dies.  Though maybe this is just my family.
– Never use single dose tablet dish detergents….they use too much detergent, all of which ends up in the ocean.  Reduce the amount of dish powder used in each wash.  You’re using too much.  Experiment by reducing detergent used in each load by 1/2. 
– Use only the shortest washing cycle, (excluding "Rinse and Hold") unless you’re trying to eliminate blood evidence…..then go for the max.
– Always spin the spray arms with your finger to be sure nothing is blocking free movement.
– Just before starting the dishwasher, always run the kitchen tap until the water runs hot.
– Buy dishes, bowls, glasses, pots, etc that fit into your dishwashers.  Try them out before committing.  Return them if they don’t fit.  Give old "mis-fits" as wedding presents.
– Consider hand washing really big things (a very large pot), to make room for lots of smaller things
– Perhaps this sounds obvious…..but read the freaking manual.  All those engineers spreading their collected wisdom.  It’s like an oracle.  Worship the manual.  It has the answers even before you have the questions.
– Fill out and return your warranty card.  It’s really not as hard as it looks.

STOP RINSING YOUR DISHES:  Dishwashers are designed to clean dirty dishes…’s right there in the manual.  We are not making this up.  
Step 1:  Don’t Rinse Your Dishes.  About 1/2 the country rinses their dishes and are idiots for it.  You need not be one of them.
Step 2:  Test your dishwasher
– Scrape off the big pieces from your dishes without rinsing, load the dishwasher to the gills without blocking the spray arms (make sure they can spin before closing the door), run the kitchen tap until hot water comes out, run the wash
    -if your dishwasher can’t wash dirty dishes clean
    -if it fails to remove floating food crud on the tops of dishes on the top rack
    -if it can’t remove spaghetti sauce, steak sauce, fudge sauce, bacon fat
    -if it can’t wash clean 2 day old dirty dishes without use of the "Rinse and Hold" feature.
    -if it doesn’t have at least 2 tiers of rotating washing arms
    -if you can’t hold a polite conversation within 2 feet of your running dishwasher
    -if it can’t run the wash without leaking several gallons of scalding water on your kitchen floor.
If you can’t do this with your dishwasher, or if it’s older than 10 years, turn your old dishwasher into a dog house in the back yard, and get yourself a new one.

-Your dishwasher is your most complex major kitchen appliance, with heaters, moving parts, rubber seals, electronics, and 42 million gallons of municipal water held back by a $3 valve and $4 hose.  This is the major appliance most likely to disappoint.  Therefore, we strongly recommend you only buy dishwashers from companies with decades of experience.  
-Don’t be an early adopter of dishwashers from new suppliers such as Dacor, Viking, Haier, LG, or Samsung (and now Sub-Zero/Wolf).  Let them ride the learning curve on some other unfortunate sop’s back for 5 – 10 years or so.  Guaranteed these guys are already sorry they ever got into the endlessly complex and thankless business of dishwashers.
Cheap ranges cook.  Cheap fridges refrigerate.  Cheap dishwashers do not wash dishes.  Do not be a cheap bastard when buying a dishwasher.
-Spend no less than $500, $600 is better, more better still.  If constrained by circumstance consider buying discounted dinged or dented or on ebay,
or wash by hand until you have $500.
-Before fixing your "77 Camaro or removing your ex’s name from your bicep or augmenting your breasts, spend your money on a great dishwasher.
-Buy a dishwasher with at least 2 sets of washing arms and at least 4 water spraying directions, with soil sensors, electronic controls, stainless steel interiors, significant sound proofing features, and internal temp booster.  (and then reduce your household water temperature)
-Some dishwashers have internal hard and soft food disposers, but we’re not sure they are really necessary.
-Leak detection is nice but not really related to cleaning performance and energy efficiency, but very nice when you remember the $3 valve and $4 hose and the 42 million gallons on the other side.
-Only buy Energy Star dishwashers, BUT NOT necessarily the highest rated Energy Star unit.  Weigh efficiency, performance, noise, service history AND serviceability, and brand.  Speak to friends, trawl the internet at places like,’s Consumer Review found with each appliance , and Consumer Reports.  Also consider JD Power and Good Housekeeping, but they’re more difficult to understand.
We have ALWAYS recommended Bosch dishwashers.  We are VERY happy with ours, as are all of those we know who have one.  As a bonus, they are made in this very country (USA).  We pine for a Bosch invite to an owner’s outing (ala Saturn or Jeep) so we can gush our respect for our perky stainless box with like-prideful owners, and get autographs from the engineers.  That said, even Bosch washers have some detractors on the web, including some complaints that plastics don’t dry well.  ASKO, Miele, and KitchenAid from all that we’ve heard, are also excellent options.  Do your homework, don’t crib off of us.
Whatever you buy:   READ THE MANUAL, and Not just the Sexy and Violent Parts, and return your Warranty Card.

Hand Washing
There are several  studies which conclude that dishwashers are more efficient than hand washing.  Undoubtedly this is a load of hoohah.  In these studies the hand-washing group is hobbled by mental defect,  continually running warm water from the tap, while the dishwasher is the best unit on the market.  The studies are funded by the dishwasher manufacturers.  They just want to find the truth of course.  Here’s an example of advertising using these faux facts: click here.
    Hand wash water is cooler, containing far less energy than dishwasher water.  Win #1 for hand washing.  
    When trained, hand washers can be more water efficient than a dishwasher is.  Win #2 for hand washing.  
    Dishwashers are made of 60 lbs of steel, plastic, copper etc stripped from the earth, refined, manufactured and transported representing untold tons of CO2.  Win #3 for hand washing.
What does this all mean?  Dishwashers are luxuries, not necessities.

Quick Hand Washing Primer
-Fill the sink with warm water.
-Soak the dishes in the sink
-Wash the dishes in the sink
-Rinse the dishes en masse while in the the drying rack using the spray, not one at a time under the faucet.  (I rinse with cold water)
-We know folks who skip the rinse cycle and go straight to cloth drying with the theory that the soap residue is infinitesimal.  I’m holding off on that until we have the first indication the world is coming to an end.  Dogs in the street chewing on corpses would work for us.

-Have some pride.  Stop building the crap which is sold to builders and landlords and other cheap SOBs.  We know you hate yourselves for it.
-Build multiple dish rack configurations, and sell separately from the dishwasher.  The consumer can buy the configuration best matching his/her dishes.
-Work with Dish and Pot manufactures to develop utensil design standards so Garanimal-like, consumers can buy dishware designed for maximum loading and cleaning.  
        Flatter pot tops, nesting soup bowls, pot diameters which fit, bowls and cups without crud capturing bottoms……and like that half their work is done. 
-Add the words "Don’t Rinse Your Dishes… Idiot!" somewhere near the controls.
-Develop concept dishwashers testing new configurations, new lower phosphate detergents, lower water temperatures, misting cycles for extended pre-wash soaking, steam, etc, anything to get the energy out of the system.  
-Experiment with replacing hot water with warm or cold water and longer wash cycles.  In households without weeping puss sores or bouts of hemorrhagic fever, are 140F "sanitary" temperatures absolutely necessary?  Think out of the box.
-Let’s see a concept dishwasher integrated with a dedicated solar hot water preheat unit.  What % of US dishwashing could benefit from solar hot water?
-Is it more energy efficient for the dishwasher to be hooked to the cold water line as is done in Europe, and heating the water in the dishwasher, thereby eliminating heat losses from pipes and storage?  Would 240V service be necessary?
-Adhere to clean production standards such as RoHS, WEEE, and Design for Dis-assembly
-End the use of packaging which cannot be recycled, like Styrofoam. (though this is probably in the RoHS)
-Start the use of Re-usable packaging which are returned to the manufacturer for re-use.
-Provide better educational materials to your customers, showing how to scrape dishes, load and use the dishwasher, and in the use of detergents including environmental detergents.  Consumers are, in large numbers, a dumb lot, barely lucid and functionally illiterate, and they don’t much like to read manuals.  They do seem to be attracted to the flickering pictures of DVDs.  Recommend the inclusion of sex and gratuitous violence on the DVD, and suggest same for the manual.
-Add internet connectivity allowing optional remote wash cycle initiation by the electric utility in the wee hours when power is cheapest.
        (Boston Globe:  ‘Power-shifting’ can save hundreds on energy bills’:  Sept 30, 2007)
-Add delayed activation timers incase the world is not quite ready for remote internet activation.
-After all this, build better dishwashers that last longer AND which can be diagnosed and serviced when problems arrive.  Keep the dishwasher units itself out of the waste stream.

Whatever it is you’re doing, the major brands need to do something different.  End production of single use detergent tablets.  They put too much detergent in the ocean.
There are several green brands availabl
The National Geographic Green Guide rates some of the eco-friendly detergents

-Consider regulating the use of the term "dishwasher".  Appliances not meeting minimum cleaning performance to be termed as "dish-rinsers" or "damp dish storage", or "hand-washing procrastination boxes" or "landlord counter-top supports" to stay clear of "truth in advertising" laws.
-Consider prohibiting the use of Sales Spiffs or dealer promotions for the above appliances
-Consider requiring that all dishwashers have soil sensors, internal temp booster features, and other energy saving features.
-Consider requiring  delayed activation features so the unit can be timed for the wee hours when electrical power is cheapest for those so metered.
-Consider requiring an internet connection of dishwashers for the possibility of optional remote activation by the electric utility in the wee hours
-Consider prohibiting the powered drying feature, or at least requiring an over-ride switch.
-Energy Star:  Handicap units without temp boosters by adding in the increased energy usage to the higher whole home water temperature.
-Consider deleting from Energy Star all units without temp boosters.   (Temp boosters allow the consumer to lower the home’s overall hot water temp)
-Consider requiring that all dishwashers list on the controls, the expected power usage for each programming option.
-Consider displaying the actual time-of-day electricity cost provided in real-time by the utility, when using time-of-day electric metering
        (Boston Globe:  ‘Power-shifting’ can save hundreds on energy bills’:  Sept 30, 2007)

-Consider requiring landlords to individually meter each apartment’s power and water use, and prohibit the inclusion of these utility costs in the rent.
-Improve Energy Star for dishwashers by including testing for cleaning performance.  Yes this would be a big pain in the ass for Energy Star and the manufacturers, but the trick is not just low energy usage since any idiot could pass that test.  No, the trick is cleaning performance AND low energy usage.
-Consider requiring that appliances are built to (RoHS), and the (WEEE)
-Create programs to get old dishwashers removed and upgraded 
-Consider prohibiting spare parts production and parts availability for dishwashers older than 10 years which are not within 10% of current efficiency requirements
-Consider initiating higher energy costs for energy used during the day for luxuries, such as dishwashers.  Would require internet connectivity of the dishwasher to manage, and relaxation of privacy concerns.  People will love that.
-Consider requiring that manufacturers be responsible for dis-assembling and recycling all dishwashers at the end of their useful lives. 
-Consider regulating Dishwasher standby power use.  (the power used when the dishwasher is doing nothing)

Dealers and CKDs
-Dealers:  Someone wants a $250 dishwasher, tell them to pound sand, or give them a sponge and ask them to come back when they have $350 more.
People with money are often too busy making money to be concerned that their grandchildren will someday be surviving on a daily ration of Soylent Green crackers.  It is not enough to know textures, colors, tiles and knobs.  Know appliances.  Make better decisions for your adult charges.

Good Builders / Good Landlords
Do better.  Offer better appliance options.  Install the appliances you would want yourselves.  Persuade clients to upgrade.
Bad Builders / Bad Landlords
You guys are a bad lot, giving the good guys a bad name by filling your properties with crappy dishwashers.  There’s really not much more to say.

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