This Is the Most Hygienic Way to Wash Dishes

It might be time to lay off hand washing for a while.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, washing your dishes properly is more important than ever. We’re all doing the most we can to stay healthy, which makes basic tasks like dishwashing even more crucial. If you’ve recently been wondering whether you should be doing the dishes by hand or use a dishwasher, we asked an expert and found out the answer for you. Before you start, check out which method our readers prefer.

When doing the dishes, stick to a dishwasher

If you currently own a dishwasher, you’re in luck. Dishwashers are the most efficient way to keep your dishes clean, according to Sean Parry, director at domestic cleaning and housekeeping service called Neat Services. “The key difference between hand washing and using a dishwasher is the water temperature,” says Parry. “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.”

Of course, what dishwashers can do go beyond resisting hot temperatures. “Modern dishwashers often include an increasing number of high-tech features that are just better at cleaning than we are—the design of the racks, the spray of the water jets and other aspects have been tailored to improve performance,” says Parry. “However, in the past, this wasn’t necessarily the case. Old dishwashers didn’t get dishes very clean unless you pre-washed. However, for new dishwashers, that is no longer an issue. Almost all of them have what’s called soil sensors. Depending on how dirty the dishes are, they will wash more or less.”

This is pretty impressive in itself, but here are 15 other things you didn’t know your dishwasher could do.

The kitchen sponge issue

Another reason why using a dishwasher is more hygienic is the issue of the kitchen sponge. While it definitely does not seem like it at first glance, the kitchen sponge is actually one of the germiest items in your home. An average kitchen sponge was found to contain 45 billion bacteria per square centimeter, according to a 2017 study published in Scientific Reports. If you’re thinking it might be time to toss your kitchen sponge, you should know how often you need to replace it.

“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,” says Parry. “So when you combine this with using lukewarm water, you can quickly see how handwashing can be nowhere near as hygienic as using the dishwasher.”

Dishwashers are more environmentally friendly

You’ll probably be happy to know that in addition to being the more hygienic choice, using a dishwasher is also more environmentally friendly. Washing dishes by hand uses three and a half times as much water as a dishwasher, in addition to being more energy and time-consuming, according to a 2018 study by Reviewed.com.

Parry also backs up this point, adding that over the years dishwashers have grown more energy and water-efficient. “Especially Energy Star-certified—that it is very hard to beat them through hand-washing,” he says. Next, find out more about the most hygienic way to dry your hands.

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