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Americans aren’t using the dishwasher — and it’s costing them big bucks

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Sally McDonald, Clark.com

Nearly 20% of Americans aren’t using their dishwasher, according to a recent survey by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and they’re wasting a lot of money.

Read more: Do these DIY dishwasher detergent tablets really work?

If you aren’t using a dishwasher, you’re pouring money down the drain

There’s a common misconception that dishwashers use more water than hand washing dishes in the sink. This isn’t accurate! If you wash your dishes by hand, you’re wasting water and your dishes aren’t really getting clean.

In fact, you shouldn’t even pre-rinse your dishes — the dishwasher will do it for you much more efficiently.

Read more: Why you shouldn’t wash your dishes by hand

Dishwasher vs. hand washing dishes

How much can you really save by using your dishwasher? If you have an energy-efficient appliance, you can expect to:

  • Cut your utility bills by more than $40 per year
  • Improve the cleanliness of your dishes (dishwashers heat water up to 140 degrees, way hotter than our hands can handle — and our sponges are dirtier than a toilet seat)
  • Save nearly 5,000 gallons of water a year

So put down the sponge, load the dishwasher and enjoy the savings. Your hands — and your wallet — will thank you.

If you don’t have a dishwasher…

There are ways to making hand-washing the dishes a cleaner and more eco-friendly process. According to Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson, it’s important to clean the sink first. “Clean the sink basin with a disinfectant product made for the kitchen,” says Dr. Gerba. “Vinegar and lemon juice can clean some bacteria, but they can’t clean really bad pathogens, so the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t recommend using them as an alternative.”

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