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Oct 7, 2007 04:06 PM

To Dishwasher, or Not To Dishwasher?

Invariably, if the Hub and I are up to our armpits in one project, another one comes up. Today we poured the footings for our new porch, part of a project involving ripping off the front of the house (yes, yikes!). Of course we do this all ourselves. And of course, this is a perfect time to get into a discussion of installing a dishwasher in the kitchen. You know how the project train runs. Perpetual motion. And apparently dishes were the topic of the day. :-)
We currenly have no dishwasher, save for the bipedal sort. I don't really want one for a few reasons. A) our in-house family size is decreasing - son in his second year of college and daughter going in less than 4 years.; B) I would lose a lot of storage space in my not-so-big kitchen for pots, pans, bowls, etc.; and C) we would still have a lot of dishes to do - I have a lot of things that would not be dishwasher-able. The Hub would like one because he didn't get to enjoy his only one long enough (!) having installed it just before we met and subsequently married, and he thinks it might make holidays easier (yep, we have everyone here). He also rightly (from what I've read, but the data has been from appliance manufacturers) points out that there can be a green element to using a dishwasher in saving on hot water.

So. Anyone want to weigh in on one side or the other? Am I being ungreen for arguing for my wash 'em and let 'em drip dry method? Is Hub ignoring storage needs for the easing of a few holiday dish-fests per year? Do you have a dishwasher? Do you do without? Is it really worth it? Is it really green, or is it only a certain segment of the market that is?

Next weekend involves a Saws-All in the Hub's hands, cutting a giant hole in the side of my house. I'd really like to have some cogent statements to add to the sure-to-ensue dishwasher discussion!

Thank you all. I'm off to do some dishes.

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    1. I have a dishwasher and would personally never want to be without one. I don't mind having to wash a few pots and pans by hand but the rest of the things can and do get squished into the dishwasher. I also think that because of the temperature that things can be wash at in the dishwasher, as opposed to by hand, they are being sterilized a bit better. I have a real phobia of raw chicken (poisoned myself several times???!!!) and if I can make sure that the cutting board is being washed in there I feel much better!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Judy Loves Entertaining

        I'm with you on the sterilizing aspect. We use a lot of plastic containers to take lunch to work, store leftovers, etc. And washing by hand never seems to completely get rid of the grease or smell. But one trip through the dishwasher, and they are spic & span. I also turn off the dry cycle and open it up to air dry overnight. Saves a lot of energy.

        1. re: Judy Loves Entertaining

          I think you waste much more water doing dishes by hand than using a water saver cycle that cleans between 165 and 180 degrees, which is hotter than you can probably get out of the faucet even if you could stand it. I do much of my serveware and all pots by hand, but the glasses, flatware, plates all go in. I wouldn't want to be without one.

        2. Using a dishwasher (when it's full) is definitely a "greener" way to wash dishes than washing them by hand. It uses far less water. If you get one that has the option to turn off the heated dry, it will also use relatively little energy.

          Look for an Energy Star rated dishwasher if you do decide to get one and are most concerned about being greener...according to the Energy Star website they use on average a third less water than non-Energy Star rated models. (4 gallons versus 6 gallons per wash). Energy Star estimates that you'll save on average 5000 gallons of water a year over handwashing dishes.

          Best of luck with it!

          2 Replies
          1. re: ccbweb

            I'm with you! I "lost" my dishwasher about three months ago (darn thing pee'd all over the floor once too often) and I CANNOT wait until it's replaced. And it takes a lotta wadda to do the dishes - and I can't keep the wadda as hot as it should be through the whole process! Ick. And I think it might be even more than six gallons per wash that gets poured down the drain....

            1. re: ccbweb

              Ditto what ccweb about "green" considerations. Also, if you get a dishwasher that enables you to turn up the heat specifically for the wash cycle, you can set the water heater in your home lower, again, saving energy overall.

              Since we have a small kitchen and didn't have room for a full-sized dishwasher and because we didn't want to ruin our vintage cabinets and build one in, we bought a "portable" dishwasher that is smaller/narrower than the standard-sized. We didn't have to give up any storage space and actually gained an extra surface in our kitchen. If you have room for a roll-away-- it's a great solution for small spaces and small families...

              I understand the portable dishwashers aren't as quiet as the built-ins, but, we usually run ours when we leave the house to run errands, etc. so, it's never been an issue for us. I love mine. Prior to this, I'd never had a dishwasher as an adult. I swear--it's life-changing.


            2. I don't have a dishwasher, and I don't really miss it; but if one were to present itself in my kitchen, I don't think I'd turn it down, either. As to whether it would save water, I seem to remember that back when we had a dishwasher (it was new when we moved into the apartment right after we got married 10 years ago) we pretty much pre-washed everything before it went into the dishwasher, otherwise it never got stuff clean. Maybe a new one today would be better. I don't know. But the way my kitchen's laid out right now, there's no place to put one anyway, so the point is moot. Plus, when Mike's grandson is here in the summer, he and I do the dishes after supper every night, and that's sort of a nice time for us to talk about stuff.

              1. I quite understand the quandry. I, too, have a small kitchen and there are only two of us. I anguished for years (two decades, actually!) about the need to lose a cupboard to the dishwasher. But I finally took the plunge, and I'm very pleased with my decision. For the first time, I've offered to host my family's Thanksgiving dinner, all because of the dishwasher.

                When we put in the dishwasher, we lost our only large cabinet, which stored all our Tupperware, serving dishes, pitchers, misc. pans, and cookie sheets - as well as the silverware drawer, the knife-and-utensils drawer, and the junk drawer.

                But it's amazing what you can do for storage space. We put pantry shelves on the downstairs landing, bought a narrow rolling cart with storage bins for the Tupperware, and managed to squeeze a narrow cabinet and drawer next to the dishwasher for the silverware and cookie sheets. Oh, and we hung a few things on the walls, put up a magnetic knife rack, and added some magentized holders on the fridge for key utensils like the can opener and the corkscrew.

                For me, the best thing is having a place to put dirty dishes. It has freed up precious counter space next to the sink (not to mention the sink as well). This makes a HUGE difference in our tiny kitchen and helps compensate for the loss of storage space. I find that I'm cooking more because I don't have to do two loads of dishes before I start a meal. (We're both dish-procrastinators...)

                Flexibility is the key - be flexible and creative in figuring out other storage options. Oh, and also for achieving a good compromise between you and your husband... Good luck with the decision!