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Good Guide to Reducing Your Water Use, Part 3: Kitchen

3A: Do's and Don'ts for Kitchen-Water ConservationSome basic guidelines to live and wash by.Compared to bathrooms and your garden,...

3A: Do's and Don'ts for Kitchen-Water Conservation

Some basic guidelines to live and wash by.

Compared to bathrooms and your garden, kitchens account for significantly less water waste. But that doesn't mean we're off the hook.

Do add a faucet aerator onto your kitchen sink-they drastically increase water efficiency.

Don't run water waiting for it to get cold; pour room-temperature water into a glass and put it in the fridge.

Don't run your dishwasher unless it's full.

Do use the light cycle on your dishwasher unless you're washing heavily soiled loads.

Don't rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Scrape them.

Do purchase an Energy Star dishwasher.

Don't fill your teakettle or coffeemaker with more water than you need.

Do use water from cooking pasta or boiling veggies to water plants.

Don't run the water to wash veggies. Get an organic food-grade wash spray from the health-food store, spritz, and let them sit in a bowl. Rinse quickly.

Do use a reusable basin sink for all your kitchen-sink water needs.

3B: A Faucet Hack

How to halve your kitchen's water flow in less than five minutes.

For less than $10, faucet aerators are the best way to use less water in the kitchen. Just slip the small metal collar over your faucet head and the aerator's fine mesh grid introduces air into the water stream. This keeps the pressure consistent while reducing the volume of water used. Check the inside of your faucet's nozzle, and if it tells you the gallons per minute, you probably have one on there already. Most modern faucets accommodate aerators easily, so if you don't have one, install one. They can reduce the water flow by up to 50 percent.

3C: Don't Throw Out the Water

A portable sink can make reusing kitchen water a cinch.

Leave it to the Australians, who are suffering from a protracted drought, to invent a solution for water recycling. The Hughie portable dish basin sits in the bottom of your sink as you are washing dishes and rinsing fruits and vegetables. The Hughie can then be picked up, its drain hole unplugged, and the water used for plants. It's made of 100-percent recycled plastic and comes in seven colors. Available Stateside at for $22.

3D: Washing Your Dishes the Right Way

Potential water savings: up to 70 gallons per day, per household

Despite what your mother tells you, hand washing dishes is actually the wrong way to do it.

When it comes to washing dishes, the shower-bath rule applies. Hand washing: bad. Dishwashers, even conventional ones: Better. Washing dishes by hand, if you have a 7-gallons-per-minute faucet and run the water for 10 minutes, can use as many as 70 gallons of water. Energy Star dishwashers, meanwhile, use four. There's an intuitive logic to the idea that if you fill up the sink and plug it, you'll conserve lots of water, but a few things to consider: Your sink, plugged up, almost certainly holds more than the four gallons of water a dishwasher will use. You also probably want to rinse them after they've been sitting in dirty dishwater. So while it's better than letting the faucet run for minutes on end, it can't easily beat a dishwasher.

3E: Reuse Your Cooking Water

Potential water savings: up to 5 gallons per day, per household

Meal prep is estimated to use five gallons of water per day, per household. Here's one way to cut that down.

  1. If you are boiling water, fill the pot with only as much water as you need.
  2. Drain water into a second pot, allow the water to cool, then water your plants with it. If you have more than you need, store it in bottles.
Water for thought
A 30-word Manifesto on German Dishwashers
A 2005 study from the University of Bonn found that dishwashers use one-sixth as much water as hand washing. Therefore, the government should buy all Americans a high-efficiency German dishwasher.
A Four-word Manifesto on Drinking Water
Don't drink bottled water.

The GOOD Guide to Reducing Your Water Use

Intro: This Is A Turn Off

Part 1, Bathroom

Part 2, Outdoors

Part 3, Kitchen

More Stories on Good