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Ethical Home – Dishwashers

How ethical is your dishwasher?

When buying household appliances, we are often concerned with what is the most cost-efficient option – what is going to be the cheapest, most beneficial option at this particular point in time. However, there are many other things to consider when looking at dishwashers.

For starters, do you even need a dishwasher?

For most people the answer is yes. Dishwashers allow us to multitask and get a number of dishes washed at once.
The question still remains, how ethical is a dishwasher? How environmentally friendly is it?

Water Consumption

One of the issues to consider is water consumption. Depending on the size of the dishwasher, you may find yourself using a significant amount of water unnecessarily. While dishwashers are great tools for getting a number of dishes washed at once, it can take much more water to wash the dishes through a machine than by hand if not filled efficiently.  Add to this pre or post washing of dishes which some people do before/after using the dishwasher.

However, research carried out by Christian Paul Richter between 2007 and 2008 on two hundred households in Germany, Italy, Sweden and Britain, found that the households which had a dishwasher used on average 50% less water and 28% less energy than the households that didn’t own a dishwasher.

This may come as surprise to many, as the commonly-held belief is that dishwashers use more energy and water than washing up by hand, and are therefore more expensive. But when used efficiently (in other words, when the dishwasher is fully loaded) they can be significantly cheaper than running the tap each time you need to wash up.

Energy Consumption

The other major issue to consider is how much energy the dishwasher consumes.

All appliances and electrical items these days come with an EU energy label.

In the case of dishwashers, these illustrate energy efficiency rating, energy consumption, water consumption, drying efficiency, noise level and capacity.

Energy ratings range from the most efficient A+++ grade to the least efficient D grade. These are shown on the label using coloured arrows.

All dishwashers must now have A class cleaning performance, so this is no longer shown on the label.

Generally, the larger the dishwasher capacity, the more energy and water efficient the machine will be. However, this is based on it being completely full every time you use it.

For a single person household or small kitchen, a slimline machine may be more practical and more efficient than running a larger dishwasher on half a load.




When you consider a dishwasher, you should consider the following factors:

  • Is it energy efficient?  Look at the Energy Rating and buy the most efficient model you can afford.  
  • Do you actually need one? If your home circumstances have changed ie. your children have now left home – perhaps you no longer need one.
  • What size makes the most sense for your home and needs?

You Decide

No matter what you answer to these questions, you want to keep the environment in mind.  Answering these questions from the viewpoint of what will be most ethical, efficient, and cost effective in the long run for you is what will guide you to making the most well-informed decision you can.

And of course, if you decide that you do need a new dishwasher, make sure you pick one of the brands from The Good Shopping Guide’s recommended table above (or click below to see more detailed information about each of the brands/companies).

Key Research

Below you will find links to the key sections of our ethical research in Home & Office:

Disclosure:  Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning we earn commission if you click through and make a purchase. Placement and use of these links has no bearing in terms of the ethical scores that we give to a brand.  All commission earned by The Good Shopping Guide is re-invested into the research carried out by The Ethical Company Organisation.

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