Thursday, September 13, 2007

Day Seventy - Getting Loaded

Loading Dirty Dishes in the Dishwasher

First, let me say THANK GOODNESS I found scientific backup that shows that washing dishes in the dishwasher actually uses less water than washing by hand. I was nervous that I would have to suffer the horrible malady of "dishpan hands" to be green, but was pleased to find out that dishwashers use half the energy and one-sixth the water used by hand washing the plates. Whew.

That being said, I must admit that I spend a fair amount of time pre-rinsing my dishes. Ok, WAY TOO MUCH TIME. By the time the dishes are loaded into the d/w, they sparkle like diamonds. For whatever reason, I don't seem to trust the machine to do its basic job of cleaning. I don't know why. But starting today, I'm going to attempt to suppress my OCD tendencies and load - GASP - dirty dishes into the dishwasher. I have no idea what will happen, since I've never actually tried this. The last time I experimented with a d/w, I substituted regular Palmolive and ended up with a dishwasher that looked like it had contracted rabies. But I digress...

Last night I put the stopper in the sink and let the water run as usual while I pre-washed my dishes, just to see how much water I used. I really wasn't surprised to find that I had to pull the plug not once, but twice, to keep from flooding the kitchen. Yikes. Kind of makes my "use a cup when you brush your teeth" savings look like a drop in the bucket (pun intended). Assuming last night represents your average pre-wash, I'd estimate that I use approximately seven or eight gallons of water, just to get my dishes ready for the dishwasher. Shameful.

So starting tonight, I will be skipping the pre-wash and do what nature intended. I'll let the dog lick the plates clean and pray to the Cascade Gods for clean dishes. Wish me luck.


Up to eight gallons of water a night down the drain. That's nearly as much water as the dishwasher itself uses! Assuming I skip the dish-washing once a week either due to vacation or sheer laziness, that equates to 48 gallons per week. A grand total of 2,496 gallons per year.

Difficulty Level: 3 out of 5

I know a lot of you must be laughing that I actually find this difficult to do, but I've got to be honest -- this one's really gonna make me twitch. For some reason it doesn't bother me that my kitchen chairs have so much dog fur stuck to their legs that it looks like they're all wearing fuzzy slippers; or that the weeds tower over the azaleas in our flowerbeds; but the thought of putting dishes with food stuck on them in my dishwasher really freaks me out. But hey, we've all got our quirks.... this only one of my many ;-)


Anonymous said...

I know you can do this, Sweetie! Remember sitting down to dinner at Nana's house with her vintage 1950s dishwasher, seeing hardened food paricles on your plate, and Nana's comment "Don't worry about, it's STERILIZED garbage". You really come from a long line of earth cookies! And, hey, your 2006 dishwasher probably does a much better job the hers did!

Burbanmom said...

Yeah, the D/W actually did a great job. Unfortunately, wiping the food off the plates sans water grossed me out so much that I dry-heaved the whole time I was loading it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the dry-heaves. You also come from a long line with excellent gag reflexes.

Wendy said...

Have you tried partially filling a sink with clear water and just rinsing the goop off, and then, loading them into the dishwasher? We're compulsive about rinsing prior to putting in the dishwasher, too ;).

Thanks for the link about how using a dishwasher actually saves energy. I've been worried about this one for a while, too, and it's nice to know that my belief in the eco-friendliness of my dishwasher (or at least my desire for it to be true :) has been supported by fact.

Venerable Wuling said...

Sorry, but I just can’t believe a dishwasher is the better solution. I use a dishpan for a once a day washup. While waiting for the warm water to arrive (apparently from Florida!) I fill gallon jugs with the warming water. I use this water for cooking or pouring into dishes to soak them before the next washup. I fill the dishpan half full. Rinsing water goes into the dishpan. Larger, dirtier items get washed last when I have more water. When finished, I pour the dishpan water into a large pail and take it to the bathroom where I use it in the toilet. (I’m almost used to seeing coffee grounds floating in my toilet bowl. Almost…) The pail stays in my bathroom as I have a small bowl that collects water when I wash my hands, etc. The bowl gets emptied into the pail, which I also use to collect the water before I take a shower.

No extra electricity is involved. The pail and dishpan were my mother’s so no purchase there. And I get exercise running around the apartment carrying a large pail of water.