Home > Household > Saving on Household Chores: Washing Dishes

Saving on Household Chores: Washing Dishes

washing dishes

Washing dishes is not something I particularly enjoy doing. Actually, it’s probably my least favorite household chore.

Unfortunately though, I like to eat and my family likes to eat, which means I do have to cook at least occasionally. 🙂 Plus cooking and eating at home is much healthier and cheaper than eating out.

Of course, cooking means I will have dishes to wash because I don’t happen to be blessed with enough money to hire someone to do them for me. Yes – I have actually thoughts about doing this. 🙂

Granted, it doesn’t cost a lot to wash your dishes no matter what method you use, but if you are trying to be more frugal, you look for ways to cut expenses where ever you can. So when I was washing dishes the other day, I thought of some ways you can save money on this household chore.

Scrape Your Dishes

A lot of people already scrape their dishes to make it easier to wash them, but my suggestion is to scrape your dishes over the trash can instead of the disposal, and to do so before the food gets dried on. Better yet, you can turn some of those scraps into compost for your garden. But they point is, you shouldn’t scrape them into the sink and turn on the water and disposal if you can help it.

You should also avoid pre-rinsing them under running water. If you must pre-rinse your dishes, do it in a bowl or shallow tub instead. This will save you money on water as well as the energy it takes to run the disposal each month.

Use an Energy Efficient Dishwasher

Some research shows that hand washing your dishes is cheaper, and other research shows using a dishwasher is cheaper. If you are confused, do what I do: Use both.

I don’t get too stressed about the numbers for either one. I just try to save money as much as possible on each method.

I use the dishwasher for normal plates, glasses, and silverware as well as plastic storage containers and a few other small items. But my dishwasher is a high efficiency one that I opted for in my kitchen upgrade and I wait until it’s full before I run it, which saves both water and energy. Then I hand wash any delicate or crystal dishes (crystal will crack and possibly even shatter under high heat in the dishwasher) as well as large pots and pans, using the other money saving tips in this article.

Collect Your Water

Most people turn the tap on and let the water run until it warms up before filling the sink and adding soap to begin washing. I used to be guilty of this one too. But instead of letting all of that cold water run down the drain, collect it in an old, rinsed out milk jug, or other container, and pour it into the back of your toilet after you flush, or use it to water plants. This will save you several gallons of water and reduce your water bill a little bit each month.

Use a Plastic Tub

When you hand wash dishes, put a plastic tub in the sink and fill it part way with sudsy water instead of washing them directly in the sink. The smaller container requires less water, reducing what you pay by a few dollars each month. Or you can just not fill the sink up all the way.

Even though most of us don’t enjoy washing dishes, it must be done on a regular basis if you cook and eat at home. Knowing how to save when you wash dishes can help you shave a few dollars off your bills each month instead of letting those dollars run down the drain.

Can you think of other ways to save when washing dishes? What household chore is your least favorite?

About Kayla Sloan

Kayla is a mid-20s single girl living in the Midwest, USA. She is focused on paying off her consumer and student loans, while simplifying her life and closet. You can join her on her journey at ShoeaholicNoMore or follow her on Twitter.


  1. The one thing I always question when I see the part about the dishwasher being more cost effective is to wonder whether they account for the wear and tear on the appliance itself. Think about it, if you run the dishwasher twice as much, you’ll likely have to replace it in half the time assuming that it is going to get you ‘x’ number of washes before it goes kaput, but I’ve never gotten a clear answer on whether this is part of the cost factor. Just something to consider.

    • That’s a good point! I never thought about that either. I think they usually only think about the water and energy cost. But of course, now that I think about it, you should factor in time as well. How much is your time worth if you spent it making money (or with your family) instead of cleaning the dishes by hand?

  2. I definitely haven’t thought about it much. I do collect the water when we’re waiting for it to get hot – we generally use it to fill up the dog’s water bowl. As for the rest, I try not to waste much water but I definitely don’t think about it all that much. My biggest problem was training myself to turn off the water when I brush my teeth or am doing dishes because I likes the sound.

  3. You can put a diffuser/aerator on your kitchen faucet. It cuts down on the amount of water coming out, but not the point of ruining water pressure.

    But if you’re going to use a dishwasher, you actually don’t want to pre-rinse your dishes much at all. Detergent clings better when there are food particles. I barely rinse mine (only partially out of laziness) and maybe every 4th load (if that) a single dish won’t get completely clean. Usually a bowl that had had something like microwaved bean dip or spaghetti sauce.

    • That’s true. I do have trouble with mine getting clean at all no matter if I pre-rise or not. My dishwasher, while energy efficient, sometimes sucks at cleaning the dishes despite having been looked at and “repaired” multiple times. I sometimes wonder if it is a “lemon”.

  4. Great strategies, Kayla. I hate this house chore and would definitely get an energy-efficient dishwasher to make it easy to do. Use of plastic tub is definitely the wisest idea to save and reduce water use.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *