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You Should Pretty Much NEVER Wash Your Dishes By Hand. Here's Why.

05/07/2015 11:36 am ET | Updated May 07, 2015
Jonathan Knowles via Getty Images

Lazy dish washers, your day has come. A recent Consumer Reports writeup shores up the argument that you should never, ever wash your dishes by hand. Just leave them to the dishwasher instead.

If you're like most people, you wash your dishes lightly by hand before putting them in the dishwasher, just to remove the initial grime. But as The Washington Post points out, this practice is not only totally pointless, but potentially harmful to the environment. Firstly ...

Washing dishes by hand does NOT make them cleaner.

You probably use cool or lukewarm water during a typical dish-rinsing routine. That's nowhere near the heat necessary to make dishes truly bacteria free. "Our hands just can’t take the hot water temperatures -- 140 or 145 degrees Fahrenheit -- that many dishwashers use to get stuff really clean," The Washington Post reports.

What's more, the kitchen sponge has been proven -- time and time again -- to be one of the germiest items in your home, if not the germiest item in your home. Why add another layer of bacteria to dishes before they hit the dishwasher?

Modern dishwashers also have high-tech jets and special rack setups that are designed to clear germs and make dishes sparkle. Trust us: they can do more than your human hands ever could.

And hand washing is worse for the environment.

Pre-rinsing your dishes by hand and then using a dishwasher will almost certainly use more water than simply running a full dishwasher.

"Pre-rinsing your dishes in the sink can easily waste more than 6,000 gallons of water per household each year," Consumer Reports states. They recommend just scraping caked food off plates, sans water, before loading them into the dishwasher.

Oh, and skipping the dishwasher altogether won't help, either.

“In order to wash the same amount of dishes that can fit in a single load of a full size dishwasher and use less water, you would need to be able to wash eight full place settings and still limit the total amount of time that the faucet was running to less than two minutes,” Jonah Schein, a technical coordinator in the EPA’s WaterSense program, told The Washington Post. Not possible.

There may actually be one teeny benefit.

In a recent experiment, Swedish researchers found that children from families that hand-washed their dishes were about 40 percent less likely to develop allergies compared with kids in homes that used a dishwasher. The theory is that hand-washing dishes leaves them with more bacteria than a dishwasher would, and exposure to that bacteria may make kids more resistant to allergies. As with many studies, though, nothing's for certain.

And if you don't have dishwasher, that's okay too.

There are ways to make hand washing eco-friendly, like filling your sink half-full with hot water to wash everything at once, then rinsing the whole rank in one swoop instead of rinsing dishes one-by-one. There are Earth-friendly soaps you can buy, too.

... but let's be real, who wants to hand-wash dishes anyway?

  • 1 Good Kitchen Knives
    Adam Gault via Getty Images
    Knives are more fragile than you might think. The agitation of the dishwasher's cycle makes the blade dull. It can also get all kinds of dings and scratches from hitting other objects.
  • 2 Any Cast Iron
    Alex Hayden via Getty Images
    DON'T DO IT! Those who are believers in the cast iron skillet know how much work goes into getting one well-seasoned. Putting a cast iron through the dishwasher will strip all that seasoning right off -- and it can also cause the iron to rust.
  • 3 Wooden Spoons And Spatulas
    GYRO PHOTOGRAPHY/amanaimagesRF via Getty Images
    Before putting anything made from wood in the dishwasher, check the manufacturer's instructions. Wooden items can easily warp, crack, come apart or lose their finish with the high temperatures of the dishwasher.
  • 4 Crystal And Hand-Painted Glass
    Image Source via Getty Images
    Are you insane? Of course crystal shouldn't go in the dishwasher. That's just like throwing your beautiful glasses on the floor. Crystal and hand-blown glass are sensitive to heat so they run the risk of cracking in the dishwasher. But that's not the only risk. Detergents can chip at them, causing them to lose their shine. It's bad news all around guys.
  • 5 Gold-Colored Flatware
    Jen Gotch via Getty Images
    We're guessing that if you have gold-colored flatware you bought it because of its beautiful gold color. Unfortunately for you, that means you've got to hand wash them. Throw them in the dishwasher and watch them fade.
  • 6 Non-Stick Pots And Pans
    Brian Hagiwara via Getty Images
    Many Teflon pots and pans loss their "non stick" quality when washed in the dishwasher. It's better to err on the side of caution and wash these by hand.
  • 7 Hollow-Handle Knives
    They're just not strong enough to handle a dishwasher's rough and tough cycle. Most of them are attached by adhesives that can loosen when washed in a dishwasher.
  • 8 Disposable Aluminum
    Jeff Kauck via Getty Images
    It's not what happens to these guys, but the damage they can do to everything else -- like leaving black marks -- while banging about the dishwasher.
  • 9 Disposable Soft Plastics
    Chobani
    According to the Whirlpool site, plastics are dishwasher safe -- though you should check with the manufacturer's recommendations first -- but disposable plastics are not. So those yogurt containers that you double as Tupperware, best to wash those by hand. (And plastics that can withstand the heat of the dishwasher should only be loaded on the top rack.)
  • 10 Cans And Bottles
    Navarro
    If you want to rinse cans and bottles to recycle or reuse, you're better off washing them by hand. Labels attached with glue can loosen and clog the spray arms or pump and affect dishwasher performance.
  • 11 Gold-Trim Plates
    Macy's
    The dishwasher LOVES to eat away at gold coloring. Keep these dishes out of there!
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