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Dishwashers & Washing Machines: Efficient Water use? Hyderabad

I have a query regarding dishwashers and washing machines. I plan to live in Hyderabad and given the inadequacy of water in the city it does not feel right to be buying these appliances.

Are they better in terms of water conservation than hand washing clothes and vessels. Any information regarding comparative efficiencies will be appreciated.

Can we do anything to make their use better by recycling the water coming out of them- basic treatment and direct water from one source to another. An average of 150 litres of water just for washing and drying seems like a moral crime.

Ganesh Margabandhu




Dear Ganesh Margabandhu,

1. Use Semi auto washing machines. It has following advantages:
• You may use minimum water as per requirement (Fully auto machines use too much of water even if light spin mode is selected).
• In summer season do not utilize washing arrangement. Just soak the water, use spi mode.
• Use organic soaps. It will not affect environment.

2. Due to utensil design, eating habits, it is not ideal to install dishwasher. It would take
• Too much soap and water.
• Use organic soap.

Dishwasher is ideal only if it is installed for commercial establishment as an ETP is installed to treat such reject water.


Tushar Trivedi
Bottled Water Segment
Bottled Water India
New Delhi


Dear Ganesh Margabandhu,

Welcome to the real world. Dishwashers and washing machines are used owing to an urban lifestyle. The older method of using a bai (who herself had little idea of hygeine) is long past gone in metros. However, present day machines are reasonably efficient and utilise a lot less water.

You may use all these machines and put up a sewage treatment plant in your flat or apartment system which will recycle this water and give you water for horticulture purposes. You can even drink this water after further treatment but since it affects our Indian sensibilities, we have not crossed that bridge.

But, we are getting there slowly but surely.

With best regards,

Taral Kumar
Executive Director
Akar Impex Pvt. Ltd.
Noida, Uttar Pradesh


Dear Ganesh Margabandhu,

Your question has been referred to me for a reply. Meanwhile 3 days have passed and I am glad to see that there is no reply that congratulates you for your water consciousness, and recommends hand wash for being “traditional technology” or “wisdom of the centuries”. It seems true water literacy is, after all, spreading.
Washing machines are the most water efficient way of washing cloths. Are you surprised? (Of course we are referring to a comparable quality of wash) Water use efficiency (WUE) of a wash is measured in Liters of water used per Kg of dry cloths load. For washing machines, it is typically 10 L/Kg but can be as low as 6 L/Kg. There is absolutely no ways you can hand wash 1 Kg of cloths (dry weight) with 8 L of water, far less 6 L.

Front loading washing machines are most water efficient. With a drum that rotates on a horizontal axle, they churn the clothes in vertical plane, thus physically lifting them and dropping them in the water pool below. Therefore they can do by filling the wash drum only partially. Typically a front loading machine uses 60 L of water for 6 Kg of cloths. Top loading machines need to fill the drum to a level to completely immerse the wash load, and that needs more water per Kg of clothes.

Each rinse cycle in washing machines ends with a spin that takes off much more detergent laden water, than wringing by hands can. Therefore, for the same quantity of detergent used, it takes less water/ fewer rinsing operations in washing machines, than in hand wash. I am not sure whether Tushar Trivedi is right that semi-automatic machines need less water. I believe immersing the cloths in water and churning them is a more water efficient way of rinsing. But I have no reference to quote in support of this. (Note, all comparisons must be for achieving the same level of residual detergent)

Washing machines with metallic drums can use hot water, much hotter than your hands can tolerate, and they also do washing much more vigorously. Both these mean you can get the same quality of wash with less detergent and that is environment friendly in a different way.

Water is wasted when:
a) washing machine is used for a small load;
b) when the user does not select a lower water level for partial loads; and
c) when the user unnecessarily selects a more thorough wash program. On most occasions, the program labeled as “Quick” or “Fuzzy” is sufficient.

In India, the manufacturers generally do not specify the Water Use Efficiency of washing machines. In developed countries they usually do. That doesn’t necessarily mean the models sold in India are less efficient. It only means – the buyer is unable to do a comparison herself. This needs to be taken up by Consumer Organizations.

Finally, your question about recycling the water. Gray water recycling can be done irrespective of whether you use a washing machine or hand wash. Beyond that I am not going to write any more on it, because of two reasons.

One, plenty has already been written in IWP itself about recycling of gray water. You may read it there and implement it.

Two, in the matter of recycling of gray water at home level; I am a bit of a cynic. It is my hypothesis that on this front there is a lot of talk that is just "declaration of intent" but very little action. Do it and tell us – say in a few months from now – whether you are implementing it and if not, why not.

With regards,

Chetan Pandit
Chief Engineer
National Water Academy


An article from debates the water use & energy efficiency of dishwashers, access here:


Dear Ganesh Margabandhu,

You can always recycle the washing machine water back to the tank holding the WC (Flushing Water). It would be better if you could have a holding tank (for a few hours to allow the collected dust to settle) before you use it for recycling.

It would involve a greater treatment in case of washing machine water and it is best to allow it to discharge as it would not only contain greater detergent but also plentiful of oil.


Keshav Agarwal
Technical Consultant
Biotech Services
Noida, UP


I am into effluent treatment chemicals business in around Delhi. Mostly industry owners thinks negative about effluent treatment.In their terms, it's a wastage of money & time. Only pressure from pollution control boards makes them ready for formalities. Truth is we are wasting water resources in a very worst manner. South Delhi area of Delhi is almost free of ground water.

Few service stations I know purchase tankers of water.

Even i do,not see any good signs in future as well. We are all not serious about water's availability in future. May god bless us. Thanks

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