Please Stop Washing Dishes by Hand

Back away from the sponge.

Dirty Dishes
Photo: PaulMichaelHughes/Getty Images

There will always be a degree of reverence surrounding the old-fashioned way of doing things, especially among the proud people of the South. If it ain't broke… right? But just because your grandmother did something one way, doesn't necessarily mean it's the best way.

Older generations can be skeptical of modern technology. We get it. But when it comes to washing dishes, science has proven that running the dishwasher is superior to hand-washing in more ways than one. Sorry mawmaw!

To start, you simply can't get water hot enough to make the dishes entirely 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.

And then there's the issue of water consumption. Hand-washing can't compete there either. According to Lifehacker, a kitchen faucet can dispense up to two gallons a minute. Despite constantly spraying water, Natural Resources Defense Council reports that an Energy Star certified dishwasher can use as little as three gallons of water per load. Even older dishwashers only use 10 to 15 gallons! And it adds up. An energy-efficient dishwasher can save almost 5,000 gallons of water per year compared to hand-washing.

Last but not least, we have to talk about kitchen sponges, A.K.A. the single dirtiest item in your house. Really.

"It has a lot of nooks and crannies, so as you clean up a mess with potential pathogens in it, some of the organisms become lodged in between the sponge," Dr. Philip Tierno, a clinical professor at the Microbiology and Pathology departments at NYU Langone, told HuffPost. "People rinse their sponges, but they really need to sanitize them. And that's something people don't do."

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Seriously, using a sponge to clean a dish probably leaves it dirtier than it was before you scrubbed. "Soap and water don't kill germs—they only wash germs away," Tierno continued. "But if you have a dirty sponge to start with, you have a nice layer of germs to cover your plate."


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