Although it seems quite counter-intuitive, it has been shown that washing in a dishwasher may be more environmental than washing by hand (typically using excess hot water). Now, that depends, of course, on the type of dishwasher you have and how full you fill it. Realistically, though, we all love our dishwashers and are not going to give them up, so we need to think about how we can use them better.
Conventional dishwasher powders can be a nasty cocktail of chemicals, including petroleum-derived fragrances and phosphates that pollute waterways. But, the truth is, that most people will continue to use these unless they can find a detergent that really works. There is nothing more miserable (or unecological) than unloading the dishwasher and finding that you have to rewash it all. A few bad experiences and most everyone reverts to conventional products.
The eco-question that I am most often asked by friends is which dishwashing powder I use.
So here’s the answer: I am a long-time devotee of Seventh Generation Free and Clear Automatic Dishwasher Powder. I have tried numerous other powders and gels (including the gel from Seventh Generation) and have never had anything close to the success rate I have with this product. In fact I would go as far as to say that I am completely happy with it. I like that it has no chlorine, phosphates, fragrances, petroleum-based products, etc. in it. I like that it is a powder (shipping liquids unnecessarily is something that really bugs me, as you may have noticed in many of my posts). I like that it comes in a paper box that can be recycled (plastics recycling is always somewhat hit-and-miss, it seems). Most of all, I like the fact that it works (in my machine – which is a Bosch) and my dishes come out sparkling.
I do not even use commercial rinse-aid any more. This is another questionable, and also expensive, product that can be readily replaced by white vinegar. No effort, no mixing, just fill your dispenser with vinegar the same way you would with rinse-aid. And there you go.
I hope these items work as well for you as they do for me. Who knows? Maybe dishwasher/powder pairings are highly specific.