Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hand Wash Dishes with Eco-friendly Efficiency

Manual Dish Washing Using Less Energy, Chemicals, and Water
Dish washing by hand is green and economical. Using biodegradable detergents adds benefits. Disinfecting your dishes protects you and your family in the 'flu Season.

Recently, there has been some confusion over the “greenness” and economy of manual handwashing of dishes vs. using a dishwasher. A study from the University of Bonn cites that the new high-efficiency dishwashers use less water than hand washing.

High-efficiency Dishwashers vs. Hand dish washing
The new high-efficiency dishwashers are certainly more green than older dishwashers, using on average only 4-8 gallons of water vs. the average 15 gallons of older dishwashers. High-efficiency dishwashers use 13-41% less energy, than dishwashers manufactured prior to 1990.

According to the University of Bonn study, high-efficiency dishwashers also use less water than hand washing dishes. The big caveat is though, how consumers in the study washed their dishes. Many of the consumers washed their dishes in a constant stream of water!

Hand washing using the method below uses less than ½ the water of even the “greenest” of dishwashers and saves almost all of the non-renewable energy:

Recipe for Hand Washing Dishes:
Add Hot Water 1/3 full in 2 plastic dishpans, approximately 2 quarts each.
In one, add 2 teaspoons of Dr. Bronner's Lavender Soap, (or other all natural liquid soap) for the wash water.

Note: Dr. Bronner's soaps, one of the oldest, most respected brands of all natural, organic soaps, are very versatile and can be used for face, body, hair care and cleaning. Lavender has long been known to be relaxing and has antibacterial qualities.

For an extra boost of cleaning power, add and mix until dissolved, 1 t. of borax and 1 t. of baking soda.

Note: Don't expect tons of suds. Suds do not need to be present for cleaning action! Most detergents have added chemical surfactants to create more suds for the visual effect not the cleaning power.

In the other dishpan, add 1/4 c. white vinegar for the rinse water.
Hand wash dishes using a scrubbie, replacing water only when it gets too dirty or cools. For dirtier yuk, scrub with more baking soda and borax. A good order is silverware, then cups, bowls/plates, then pots-n-pans.

Rinse all items in the "vinegar" rinse water, air dry in dish drainer. Do not rinse the vinegar off. It will evaporate, killing more germs as it does.

To make it a complete disinfectant, that has been proven to work equal to bleach, you can spray the dishes with 3% hydrogen-peroxide solution after the vinegar rinse. This is particularly helpful if you are cleaning up after raw meat or poultry.

Never directly mix vinegar and hydrogen-peroxide, as it cause a toxic poison, but spraying one after the other is fine, because they both evaporate quickly.

What is So Great About This System?
This system of manual dish washing uses a minimal amount of water, which is great for conservation. The cleaning detergent is totally biodegradable and won't hurt the environment, like the toxic chemicals in most detergents and cleaners.

The combination of all-natural soap, lavender, borax, baking soda, and vinegar with hot water works like a disinfectant and will kill almost all germs. Spraying hydrogen peroxide on the dish surfaces creates a complete non-toxic disinfectant, that will evaporate safely.

Keep hydrogen peroxide in an opaque spray bottle because it will lose its potency in prolonged light exposure.

This dishwashing system uses hand power and not electricity, which conserves non-renewable resources and money.

Other Tips and Tricks
Keep all the "nubs" from your all natural bar soaps and put in a scrubbie bag to use as a substitute to liquid dish detergent.

Use a recycled container for the baking soda/borax mix. Label the outside to avoid misuse.
After washing the dishes, add soap to the vinegar rinse water to reuse it for washing the sink, faucets, and counters. Finish the disinfection by spraying with hydrogen peroxide and let it evaporate.

Happy Greencleaning! --GreenKeen aka Pamela Palmer

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