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Articles by Leslie Stephens

Leslie Stephens is an assistant editor at Food52.

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“Always make sure the dishwasher is full before running it” is one of those mom-isms that subconsciously runs through my head each time I’m in the kitchen. It goes hand-in-hand with Don’t stand directly in front of the microwave and A watched pot never boils. But how much water do you really save by doing it?

Mark Weinberg/Food52

With increasingly water-efficient dishwashers, how much water does dishwashing really take? What about compared to hand-washing? Is one more water-efficient than the other? Here’s what we found.


The average energy-efficient dishwasher uses four to six gallons per cycle, while the average dishwasher uses six gallons of water per cycle. This number is a fraction of what it used to be; even 15 years ago, dishwashers used around 13 gallons per cycle. While dishwashers vary in how many dishes they can fit and how efficiently they’re loaded, Energy Star defines a full-sized dishwasher as one that “has a capacity greater than or equal to eight place settings and six serving pieces” or, in layman’s terms, the aftermath of ... Read more

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