05/07/2015 11:36 am ET Updated May 07, 2015

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

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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?

H/T The Washington Post



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