Dishpan hands or dishwasher clean?


While washing up after a Cottage Life BBQ recently, our idle chatter turned to the subject of the greenest way to do dishes: by hand or by dishwasher (or as one slacker team member said, “Can’t we just get recycleable paper plates and save a step?”). Our office is not equipped with a dishwasher, so alas, it is dishpan hands for the clean-up crew. But studies have shown that proper use of a dishwasher is in fact the most efficient way to wash up at the cottage.  Best of all, dishwashers use less water than washing by hand.

The key to lake-friendly dishwashing at the cottage, whether by hand or by machine, is choosing the right detergent.  Leslie Garrett, author of The Virtuous Consumer, reminds us that dishwasher detergent contains phosphates which can promote algal bloom, increase weed growth, and kill fish. Under 2010 regulations, phosphate content has been restricted to 0.5 per cent but there are effective phosphate-free brands – read the labels carefully and don’t be dazzled by marketing speak like “natural” and “green.”

We’re lucky that at our cottage, we have a dishwasher, but unfortunately it’s one of the lower-end models that operates at such volume that it drives us out of the kitchen whenever it’s running. Less time in the kitchen means more time on the deck, so maybe that’s not a bad thing.

If you’re ready to upgrade the old rumbler at your cottage, it might interest you to know that from July 1 to December 31 at BrandSource retailers across Canada, $40 from the sale of every Frigidaire dishwasher with OrbitClean technology will go towards Ronald McDonald Houses across the country. The goal of this program is to provide 365 nights of comfort for families who are far from home while their child undergoes medical treatments. A new dishwasher at the cottage can do some good for your lake while helping a good cause back in the city.