The sustainable way to wash dishes

Expert insight:

Doing dishes may seem harmless, but it takes a lot of energy to heat water, says study author Gregory Keoleian, Ph.D., professor of sustainable systems at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. That’s the main reason the chore increases your carbon footprint.

The two-basin method uses the least amount of hot water while the running-tap strategy uses the most—twice as much as a dishwasher, Keoleian points out.

The bottom line:

Soaking in hot water, scrubbing, and rinsing in cold water is the most environmentally friendly way to clean your dishes, Keoleian says.

If you can’t give up your dishwasher, minimize the impact by skipping the pre-load rinse and turning off the heated-dry setting. Together, these strategies reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 14 percent, Keoleian says.