In the realm of domestic affairs, few things seem to generate as much universal contention as the argument over washing dishes by hand versus washing them in a dishwashing machine. Which method gets dishes cleaner? Which uses less water?
We reached out to Houzz users in eight countries — Russia, Italy, Spain, France, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia — and, through a series of discussions and polls, tried to determine what, if anything, other cultures and communities can teach us about this common dilemma. Here’s how the dirty-dish debate stacks up around the world.
Dishwashing machines are more popular — but it’s complicated
For the most part, it seems, we’re all bobbing together in the same basin of sudsy water. The majority of people in the countries we reached out to, with the exception of Japan, say they prefer to wash dishes in a dishwasher rather than by hand. In fact, 60 to 70 percent of people in every country — apart from Japan, where a small majority prefer hand-washing — said they preferred the appliance method. Houzz France user Valérie says: “I couldn’t live without my dishwasher. Huge time benefit and it is far more ecological. And by the way, my hands thank my dishwasher a lot.” In the U.S., 67 percent of respondents to our poll said they preferred machine washing to hand-washing. Houzz U.S. user nnigrt [sic] commented: “There are times I’d rather sweep the kitchen floor than vacuum it, make my own bread rather than walk to Whole Foods [grocery store]. But I never say, ‘Heck, I’m feeling old-timey, let me wash up those breakfast dishes.’ ” But something can be said for hand-washing too. In each country we polled, 30 to 40 percent of respondents still prefer the hand method. Lorella Dia, a Houzz Italy user and owner of Milan Chic Chandeliers, says she understands why a large family that uses a lot of dishes might need a machine. But if it’s just two people living together, hand-washing may be better — and perhaps more romantic? “They can take advantage of the hand-washing time to help each other and maybe have a relaxed chat,” she says. “Wouldn’t it be like in old romantic movies?” Let’s take a look at common claims about each method to understand why some people swear by their appliance and others find solace in hand-washing.