Asians and dishwashers

I found this from Calvin at plaidbag.org: The dishwasher and the garbage disposal. The original article from the Washington Post is about how immigrants rarely use dishwashers: Washing their hands of the last frontier. The article says:

In many immigrant homes, the automatic dishwasher is the last frontier. Long after new arrivals pick up football, learn the intricacies of the multiplex and the DMV and develop a taste for pizza, they resist the dishwasher. Some joke that not using the appliance is one of the truest signs of immigrant heritage, whether they hail from Africa, Latin America, Asia or Eastern Europe.

I know people who work in restaurants, and they prewash, even if they use the automatic dishwasher–which is why you can still get a job as a “dishwasher” in restaurants. Aside from having to prewash, I also don’t buy the idea that dishwashers are as efficient as handwashing. Sure, some people leave the water running while they wash. But how can scrubbing with a sponge (which you need for prewashing anyway) be less energy efficient than a stream of water directed by a large electric appliance? I could see myself using it for large parties or if my kids start eating more and creating more dishes, but otherwise, I think it’s a waste.

(The only justifiable environmental argument I see is the possibility that there is less wear-and-tear on sponges. But I think most of the sponge-damage comes from the hard scrubbing that comes with prewashing.)

Garbage disposals, on the other hand, should never be used. Calvin’s dad is right not to use one. I know home inspectors who talk about how ground-up solids are not meant to be flushed down regular pipes, and how these can create all kinds of longterm problems.

Speaking of being efficient, I noticed that lots of people don’t have laundry dryers in Japan–they just hang it up. To me, this makes a lot of sense. Having a tumbling drum that heats and dries your laundry for a couple hours each load–that’s energy that could be better used powering your refrigerator or other more necessary appliances. People ought to use solar powered drying machines, like this one:

12 thoughts on “Asians and dishwashers

  1. Ugh more proof that I’m still an immigrant at heart. :) I much rather have a dryer than a dishwasher. If I have to hang dry my clothes then there is a strong possibility that I have to iron some articles of clothing. I hate ironing.

  2. I have both, but I try to use neither. (I do use the dryer when we have lots of rain, as we often do in Portland.)

  3. from what I’ve read, its hard to beat the newer dishwashers compared to handwashing.
    I handwash but I’m probably not saving much as I keep the water going all the time.

    asians I know dont really use the oven much either. That is sad, cause I like to bake.

  4. I know that true “commercial” dishwashers are superior, because they employ powerful jets of jets of *very* hot water and water vapor to not only blast food residue away but disinfect from all germs. A commercial dishwasher will also was a HUGE load of dishes spotlessly in 5 minutes. Restaurants can’t wait 20 minutes to get a family size load of dishes washed. Of course, these dishwashers are also quite expensive, take up a lot of room, and are designed for efficiency, not style.

    That being said, i pretty much hand wash my dishes. It’s not that I don’t trust the dishwasher, I just like to wash everything immediately after use.

  5. funny post. Now I know why I never use the dishwasher OR garbage disposal. ha ha. It’s my Asian brain!

    My parents though use their dishwasher all the time. Especially when I come home to visit b/c after a normal Korean dinner, with all the side dishes, platters and soups, there are TONS of dishes. So my dad dumps everything into the dishwasher that night and it’s done. They also have a LOT of plates/cups/utensils in general so I think they just keep using new ones until the dishwasher is full. My parents probably have enough dinnerware for a party of 50.

    Whereas I have enough dinnerware for 4 ppl. So I have to keep handwashing every day so I have something clean to use for the next day. But my dishwasher is handy in that I use it as a drying rack. =)

    The dryer, on the other hand, is very useful! When you have a wrinkly tee – just pop it in the dryer for 10 minutes and voila, no wrinkles! It’s easier than a steamer. But I have a steamer too for delicate clothing. Anything is easier than ironing!

  6. Unless one has a big family with lots of plates, using a dishwasher is very slovenly. In my opinion.

    However I use a dryer for my nice clothes as the sun can bleach fabrics very quickly.

  7. That’s a good point about the amount of dinnerware, Linda. I only have enough dinnerware for 6, and on any given day, there might be a plate or bowl holding leftovers in the fridge. If I want to use the dishwasher, I may have to get more dishes. :)

    Aight, so I was curious and did some web research. A lot of the evidence comes from the same study in Bonn, but the dishwasher may be worth looking into, especially if you throw dinner parties.

    http://www.treehugger.com/kitchen-design/built-in-dishwashers-vs-hand-washing-which-is-greener.html

    This says:

    These numbers indicate that it’s possible to be more efficient when hand-washing, but it’s pretty tough. Can you successfully wash and rinse a soiled dinner plate in just over a cup of water? If you can keep the water use low, equal to an efficient machine, you’ll require less energy, but doing an entire load of dishes in 4 gallons of water is roughly equivalent to doing them all in the same amount of water you use in 96 seconds of showering (using a showerhead that emits 2.5 gallons per minute).

    (Kind of a bad analogy since, I think, most people don’t let the water rush out as it does during a shower.)

    http://environment.about.com/od/greenlivingdesign/a/dishwashers.htm

    This one says:

    Dishwashers are the way to go if you comply with two simple criteria. “Run a dishwasher only when it’s full, and don’t rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.” So says John Morril of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, who also advises not using the dry cycle. The water used in most dishwashers is hot enough, he says, to evaporate quickly if the door is left open after the wash and rinse cycles are complete.

    A couple of things:

    1. I worked in a restaurant once, and they rinse before putting them in a dishwasher. It could be that the study is somewhat biased since they aren’t counting this. Do most households rinse before? At my office, they always rinse before putting it in the dishwasher too. I asked my friend, who has worked in restaurants his whole life, and he says you absolutely have to rinse first. (Could be he’s right; could be he’s been working since he was a kid when they were less efficient.)

    2. That said, even after rinsing, I think I use more than a cup of water per dish. Not much more–I’m pretty efficient–but a cup is very little. Part of my wastage comes from my imprecise method of turning on the water; I haven’t yet trained to open it to just a trickle.

    3. If you use your dishwasher, where do you store your tupperware?

  8. By the way, I can easily see the dishwasher saving soap as I use waaayy too much.

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  10. Immigrant families are probably still stuck in the save resources mentality from their old countries.

    I’d say most Asian households probably recycle plastic bags from the supermarket to be used as trash liners. Why pay for plastic bags to be thrown away?

  11. Asians don’t use dish washers because they are not designed for Asian tableware. Asians use bowls and chopsticks, which do not fit well in “dish” washers :(

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