This vs That

Dishwasher vs Handwashing: Should Singaporeans Get A Dishwasher Instead Of Washing By Hand?

16 March 2023 | BY

Hand washing our dishes may be our preferred way to go, but how does it stack up against a dishwasher?

The internet often jokes about Asian parents having a deep-seated distrust of fancy household gadgets such as dryers and robot vacuums, dismissing them as Western inventions that don’t work as well as a bit of elbow grease and their kids’ unpaid manual labour.

Asian mums, in particular, disapprove of dishwashers because they think machines don’t do a good job of cleaning the dishes. After all, why spend hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars on a machine if you have 2 functioning hands?

But contrary to what Mother Gothel says, mother may not always know best. We are here to bust a few myths, weigh the pros and cons of getting a dishwasher, and recommend some options to consider.

Dishwasher: Pros & Cons

dishwasher vs handwashing- dishwasherImage credit: Unsplash – Nathan Dumlao

Though dishwashers haven’t gained a strong foothold in Singapore yet, we’ve been seeing more and more people around us make the switch to the dark side. The most obvious benefit of using a dishwasher is convenience, but with hefty price tags, is it really worth it?


Dishwashers cut down on the time needed to actively wash your dishes, and this convenience can make a huge difference in the lives of busy folks who barely have time to breathe. 

“I have no regrets about getting a dishwasher! We got one of the cheapest ones available and so far it works well. […] I personally feel that it helps save us a lot of time. And because of the reduced workload, I have a happier marriage,” says Amanda, a 31-year-old newlywed, when asked about her best big-ticket purchase

dishwasher vs handwashing- dishwasherImage for illustrative purposes only.
Image credit: @nudebyjo

And contrary to what our mothers have told us, dishwashers actually use less water and electricity compared to hand-washing the same amount of dishes. Surprising, right? According to Bosch, handwashing uses 40 litres of water on average, while their dishwashers only consume 7 litres of water on average.

When buying a dishwasher, pay attention to its energy efficiency rating and only purchase one with at least 2 ticks.

Another unexpected benefit of owning a dishwasher is improved hygiene. A CNN report in 2022 stated that “kitchen sponges harbour more bacteria than kitchen brushes”, and the reason is that “sponges in daily use never dry up.” The report also quoted the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the ineffectiveness of boiling or microwaving kitchen sponges to kill off bacteria. 

dishwasher vs handwashing- soapImage credit: Pexels

On a less serious note, using a dishwasher means that you don’t need to touch the gross, slimy food residue at the bottom of the sink to unclog it. Instead, just scrape off any food remnants from your dishes and give them a good rinse before popping them into the dishwasher.

Dishwashers are also much better for your hands since you don’t need to come into contact with strong detergents and really hot water on the daily. Yes, we know that dishwashing gloves are a thing, but it’s hard to tell if a hand-washed plate is really clean if you don’t touch the surface.


Of course, there are downsides associated with dishwashers. User Xie123, left a review on the Bosch website saying, “As with most dishwashers, the cycles are too long – 43m for quick-wash and 3h30mins for eco mode!”

Older, less efficient models may consume more water and energy than newer models, so it’s important to choose a newer, eco-friendly model for the sake of the environment and your utility bills. That said, newer models can be expensive, and it’s not easy to put down a few hundred bucks on a whim.

From experience, older dishwashers can be rather noisy too – think of it as a washing machine, but for your dishes, and you’ll have a good idea of the noise generated. Those who are sensitive to noise should thus choose a model with a low noise level. A normal conversation measures around 60dB, so anything lower than that should be a good choice.

And now for the elephant in the room – dishwashers take up space, and those living in small apartments may not have enough room for a free-standing unit. Built-in models are integrated with your cabinets, but they are rather troublesome to install. 

That leaves us with compact units, which typically take up little counter space, but they have to be placed near a water outlet and sink. So, you win some, you lose some.

Who should get a dishwasher

Now that we’ve laid out all of the pros and cons, it’s time to ask yourself if a dishwasher is for you. In general, dishwashers are great for those who prize convenience. They’re also great for people who want a happy marriage – after all, if you spend less time on tiresome household chores, you’ll have more time to bond with the love of your life. 

Finally, dishwashers will be a good investment for those who love cooking but hate doing the dishes, and for people with a bad habit of using way too many dishes when cooking. 

What kind of dishwasher should I buy?

There are 3 main types of dishwashers – built-in, compact, and free-standing.

Built-in dishwasher

dishwasher vs handwashing- built in dishwasherAn example of a built-in dishwashing unit.
Image credit: @dannyseah.interior

Built-in dishwashers are integrated with the rest of your kitchen cabinetry, and when it’s not in use, it can double as a storage space for dishes. It’s a good choice for those with a more generous budget and the most aesthetically pleasing, in our opinion.

Compact dishwasher

dishwasher vs handwashing- compact dishwasher Bosch has compact dishwashers that you can just place on an empty kitchen countertop and call it a day.

Compact dishwashers are the best choice for small-space living due to their small size. There’s no fancy installation needed – just place them on a kitchen counter, preferably near a water outlet and sink, and you’re good to go.

Free-standing dishwasher

dishwasher vs handwashing- freestanding dishwasherImage credit: @lifeonthe17th

Free-standing dishwashers are kind of like washing machines, in that they need to be placed on the ground or on a surface. Since they take up floor space, free-standing dishwashers aren’t the best choice for those in small apartments. 

On the other hand, they’re usually able to wash more dishes in one cycle, which makes them a good option for bigger families that dine at home frequently.

Water-saving dishwashers to buy

People generally think that dishwashers use too much water and electricity, so here are some eco-friendly, water-saving options you can buy in Singapore.

1. Bosch SKS62E22EU

dishwasher vs handwashing- bosch

Despite being compact, the Bosch SKS62E22EU can fit 6 place settings – ie. 6 sets of tableware required for 1 meal. When used in Eco mode, the dishwasher uses only 8 litres of water and 0.45 kWh of electricity in total. There are 6 programme settings and 5 temperature settings, and the Quick Wash option takes about 45 minutes to run its course.

dishwashing vs handwashing- bosch

We had the opportunity to try the dishwasher out for ourselves and can attest to how quiet it was. According to the product’s specifications, it runs at 48 dB, which is quieter than a normal conversation. We chose the Quick Wash option, which was powerful enough to clean a plate that was dirtied with dark soy sauce.

Dimensions (W x H x D):  551mm x 450mm x 500mm
Water consumption: 8L
Place settings: 6
Price: $1,399 on Shopee

PSA: Bosch is having a promo at their Experience Centre on 17th and 18th March where you can check out various models of freestanding and built-in dishwashers in person. As part of the event, you’ll receive exclusive discounts, dishwashing tablets, and even manicure and pedicure vouchers with every purchase.

Find out more on Bosch’s event page and sign up before 17th March 2023 to attend.

2. Toshiba DWS-22ASG(K)

dishwasher vs handwashing- toshibaImage credit: Shopee

The smallest and cheapest dishwasher on our list, the Toshiba DWS-22ASG(K) is roomy enough to fit 3 place settings and can even be used to wash fruits and vegetables. It uses a maximum of 5 litres of water, and you can either choose to connect it directly to a water inlet or fill up its water tank.

The dishwasher can reach 70°C, which is hot enough to kill off germs and leave your dishes squeaky clean. Last but not least, its minimalist design, which would suit most Japandi-style homes, is easy on the eyes.

Dimensions (W x H x D):  435mm x 420mm x 435mm
Water consumption: 5L
Place settings: 3
Price: $429 on Shopee

3. Electrolux ESF6010BW

dishwasher vs handwashing- electrolux Image credit: @lifeonthe17th

Although Electrolux calls the ESF6010BW a freestanding dishwasher, it’s actually small enough to be placed on countertops. Water temperatures can reach up to 90°C, and you can fit up to 8 sets of tableware in one go. Despite that, the dishwasher only uses 8.8 litres of water under the Eco setting, which works out to be 1.1 litres per set of tableware.

Dimensions (W x H x D):  550mm x 604mm x 523mm
Water consumption: 8.8L
Place settings: 8
Price: $595 at Harvey Norman

4. LG DFB325HS

dishwashing vs handwashing- lg Image credit: @julietan_cxq

A true free-standing dishwasher, the LG DFB325HS isn’t the most compact. Yet, it has a rating of 3 ticks and uses only 0.7 litres of water per place setting. The spacious dishwasher can fit up to 14 sets of tableware, which makes this a good choice for larger families or those who find themselves hosting dinner parties frequently.

The dishwasher runs at only 40 dBa, and each wash cycle lasts for approximately 191 minutes. The only downside is its hefty price tag – $1,680.

Dimensions (W x H x D):  598mm x 845mm x 600mm
Water consumption: 9.8L
Place settings: 14
Price: $1,680 at Courts

5. Fisher & Paykel DD60STI9

dishwasher vs handwashing- fisher and paykelImage credit: @fisherpaykel

One of the quietest dishwashers on the market, the Fisher & Paykel DD60STI9 generates a noise level of merely 23 dBa. For context, a whisper is around 30 dB. The built-in dishwasher comes in several finishes to blend in with the rest of your kitchen cabinetry, which creates a cohesive and seamless look. 

It fits 9 place settings and uses 6.7 litres of water per cycle, and has a water rating of 2 ticks. Uniquely, the dishwasher comes with a “knock to pause” function – just knock on the front panel to pause the dishwasher, then restart it with the start/stop button.

Dimensions (W x H x D):  599mm x 454mm x 571mm
Water consumption: 6.7L
Place settings: 9
Price: $1,700 at Fisher & Paykel

Washing dishes by hand: Pros & Cons

dishwasher vs handwashing- hand washing Image credit: Threehaus Works

Washing dishes by hand not only costs little in terms of start-up costs – all you need is a sponge and dish soap – but it will also earn you the approval of your tiger mum. People have been washing dishes by hand ever since dishes were invented. And if it ain’t broke, why fix it?


It’s a tried and tested method that has withstood the test of time, and you don’t have to fork out a huge sum of money to buy a dishwasher. Handwashing is a good option if you often eat out or don’t really cook at home. Also, washing dishes by hand means that you can physically check if they’re totally free of grease and give it another wash if it doesn’t pass the spot check.


dishwasher vs handwashing- dish sponge

Surprisingly, handwashing uses more water than dishwashers, and you’ll also have to spend a long time in front of the sink washing and drying the dishes. For those who work long hours, the prospect of having to exert effort to wash up can be a daunting and tiresome one.

On top of that, kitchen sponges aren’t the most hygienic. If you really want to stick to hand-washing dishes, we suggest getting a dishwashing brush instead.

Who should wash dishes by hand:

People who live in fear of their dishwasher-disapproving mothers, people who can’t afford a dishwasher, and people who like to stick to what they know.

Dishwasher vs. Handwashing – which is your preferred option?

When all’s said and done, the choice between getting a dishwasher or doing the dishes by hand is ultimately up to you. One option is clearly more convenient, while the other requires little upfront payment. And humans are creatures of habit after all, so it’s not surprising if you prefer to stick to what you know.

We’ve laid out our admittedly biased opinions on the pros and cons of each option, and now the rest is up to you.

For more of our This vs That pieces:

Cover image adapted from: Uchify, @scrubably

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