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A Dishwasher – It’s Not Life or Death… is it?

Not Using a Dishwasher is a Health Hazard

If you think only lazy people need a dishwasher, think again. A good dishwasher can be a life saver – literally. Now you may be thinking, “That’s a tad dramatic; my grandmother never owned a dishwasher and no one ever died!” While it may be true that Health Canada has never reported a major outbreak of E-Coli as a result of someone doing dishes by hand, it is just as true that otherwise healthy people the world over suffer gastric distress as a result of hand-washed dishes. An inconvenient case of “the trots” for one person could just as easily be a very scary stay at the ICU or worse for the very young, elderly, or anyone with a compromised immune system.

Dr. Kelly Reynolds of the University of Arizona is a specialist in the area of microbes and pathogens, aka – germs, and according to Reynolds, sinks, cutting boards, as well as other kitchen surfaces and reservoirs are considered “high risk” areas. “Most hand washed dishes use water temperatures below 50º C or lower, which is not high enough to destroy most organisms.”

While the floor may be crawling with 1,000 bacteria per square inch, the sink typically hosts around 500,000 bacteria per square inch – and she’s seen sinks that had millions more than that. “The sink is a ready source of bacteria just from washing off hands as well as food, which may carry fecal bacteria.” The number of bacteria it takes to make us sick depends on the type, but Reynolds says that it takes between 100 and 1,000 bacteria to transmit salmonella, which is the most frequently reported cause of food borne illness. Reynolds says our kitchen sinks are often dirtier than the toilets of public bathrooms. (What’s Worse: Dropping Food in the Kitchen Sink or on the Kitchen Floor? By Corrie Pikul)

If you know that you are not washing your dishes in water that is more than 68º C and you are not going to use the three-sink method to wash your dishes, consider the health advantages of a dishwasher.

A Dishwasher is More Economical

A dishwasher carries with it an economic bonus which you may not have realized. While it is true that having a dishwasher might help you save money on manicures (goodbye dishpan hands!), the real savings comes as a result of reduced energy consumption. A team at the engineering department of Bonn University in Germany which studies household appliances concluded that hand washing dishes uses more energy and water than a dishwasher. (Singles: Housemaid’s Hands – No Problem)

Good for Your Health, Good for Your Pocketbook

Not only is a dishwasher a good investment in your family’s health, it is also a good financial investment. (If you are in a small apartment and space is limited you can still get all the same benefits of a having a dishwasher. Counter top models are available that require very little space, an electrical outlet and your kitchen tap.) When it comes to dishwashers just remember that the really cheap ones are usually, well, cheap. There is some good general information about various brands on my website, but I always recommend that you do your own research. Consumer’s Report is a good place to start.

Your input is welcome so feel free to share how having a dishwasher has benefited your family. I know that some people use the sanitizing feature on their dishwasher to sterilize baby toys or canning jars.

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