Saturday, May 25, 2013

Day 6 - Does Handwashing Waste More Water Than The Washing Machine? #FlatsChallenge

One of the questions that came up in the Flats And Hand-washing Facebook group during this event was :

"Anyone else fee like they are using more water than the machine would?"

A few of us had measured and found that we actually used LESS water washing by hand, than we would if we used our washing machines.

Here is my normal wash routine when using my washing machine :

1) Pre-Rinse on large load setting : 10 gallons
2) Full hot/cold cycle : 20 gallons (fills up twice)
3) Extra rinse : 10 gallons

Wow! That is a total of 40 gallons of water...or more, according to my washing machine user's manual, that is the least amount of water that is used depending on the size of the load! So, I could be underestimating my calculation.

Here was my routine washing by hand :

1) Rinse diaper in clean toilet bowl : Didn't flush unless it was "messy"
2) Fill 2 gallon bucket 3/4 of the way : 1.5 gallons
3) Dump water, refill and agitate with soap : 1.5 gallons
4) Dump water, squeeze out water, rinse over bucket : 1.5 gallons

I did this process 3 times per day,

So, a total of 4.5 gallons per wash X 3 washes = 13.5 gallons per day!

Now, keep in mind that when I was washing by machine, the diaper load was normally two days worth of diapers, so I saved 13 gallons of water at least.

Some even kept the second rinse water to do the first rinse for the next wash to save even more water!

Only one more day left in the Flats And Hand-washing challenge!


  1. I also noticed I was using much less water by handwashing, and I was handwashing several times per day. We normally run a pretty full load of diapers in the washer, so it was great to see there my be ways to lower our water usage through handwashing.

  2. Fascinating! One of the biggest complaints about cloth diapers is the water usage so this would get around that :) That's a huge savings!!

    1. 10 gallons of water is also the LEAST amount of water that my washer can hold, so if I washed a small load of cloth in the washer on a large setting (which is recommended by many cloth retailers/manufacturers) the water usage can be even I am sure that I am underestimating how much is actually being used.


Thank you for taking the time to leave me a friendly comment! I try my best to reply to as many as possible :-)