Tired of watching water going down the drain? Here are four tips to avoid wasting water in your kitchen.
While living in our RV, my husband and I have had to think about water usage a lot. We are able to stay in some amazing places, but some of them didn’t have water or sewer hook ups. These spots were great, as long as we could keep our water usage low. If we ran out of water, or if our waste tanks filled up, we had to leave these more remote spots to find hook ups to meet our water needs. The water tank in our RV holds 40 gallons, and the two waste tanks (one for “gray water” from the sink and shower, and one for “black water” from the toilet) are 20 gallons each. We found that by becoming very stingy with our water usage, we can go about a week between dumping our tanks.
As we are getting close to the birth of our first child, we have decided to stay in our house in Phoenix for a couple months. We knew things would change from the RV living, but we weren’t expecting how quickly we would find ourselves slipping in to old patterns. One way this is happening is that we are literally watching a lot more water going down the drain. My husband and I were talking about our water usage this week and started pointing out all the little (and not so little) ways we were wasting water, especially in our kitchen. We find ourselves to be pretty conservative when it comes to using water and electricity, but when we don’t constantly have to monitor tank levels, it’s a lot easier to let extra water usage slip.
Here are four of the ways we have found we are wasting water in our kitchen. These are common, everyday occurrences for many Americans, so I have a feeling they just might be ways you are wasting water in your very own kitchen as well.
Letting Dirty Dishes “Soak”
I just looked in my kitchen sink this morning and saw two big bowls full of water, soaking before I loaded them in the dishwasher. Why did this habit return so quickly? I don’t know! For the last eight months in the RV, we hardly ever soak our dirty dishes. Instead of filling a pot or bowl with water to soak, I’d quickly wipe it out with a half-sheet of a paper towel before the food dried. Then, when I would wash dishes, there was never any dried, crusted on food, but we also didn’t have to waste any extra water. By my calculations, these two bowls that were soaking this morning held over a gallon of water. If I did that every day, that’s about 400 gallons of water a year! Keep in mind, this doesn’t include all the rinsing of dishes that I’ve been doing in the last few days either. This water isn’t doing anything important, just being wasted before the dishes get washed.
To avoid wasting water on dirty dishes, use a rubber or silicone spatula to scrape out as much food as you are able. Then, if needed, use a small piece of paper towel to wipe out any residue you can.
Hand Washing Dishes
Many people hear the water hitting the dishes in a dishwasher and assume that it’s using a lot of water, but that’s not the case. Most of the water in a dishwasher is being recycled, spraying the dishes over and over again. The average Energy Star dishwasher only uses about 4 gallons of water per cycle. Compare that with the estimated 20 gallons of water that get used during hand washing, and that’s a lot of water savings!
If you don’t have a dishwasher and need to wash dishes by hand, the most water efficient way to clean them is to put a few inches of hot water in the sink, wash all the dishes at once, then repeat the process to rinse them. If you have two wells in your kitchen sink, you can dip the washed dishes in the hot rinse water before putting them in a dish drainer to air dry. This method can actually use less water than a dishwasher, but only if you are diligent about using the bare minimum amount of water in your sink.