There has long been a debate over what method of dish washing has the lowest environmental impact: hand washing or using a dishwasher. The consensus is that dishwashers are the better choice because they most efficiently use water, using an average of 6 gallons of water -- or only 2 to 4 gallons for Energy Star efficient models -- per full load, whereas hand washing consumes 2 gallons of water for every minute the faucet is running and far more soap.
The energy use for heating the water for hand washing a full load versus using a built-in dishwasher is trickier to compare because it could be very different or very similar based on a lot of factors, but both of those methods require energy for heating water. A new device called the Circo Independent dishwasher does not.
The Circo is a manual dishwasher that not only cuts out the energy use of a typical dishwasher but also saves a lot of water compared to hand washing using only 0.7 gallons of water per load. The device is operated using a hand crank and the makers say that it can clean a small load of dishes in just one minute.
To clean dishes, the user pulls out the bottom tray and fills it with water, sodium acetate tablets that heat up the water and a small amount of dish soap. The dishes are loaded and then the user can turn the crank to quickly wash the load. The device uses a centrifuge mechanism to spray water up from the base for cleaning much like a typical dishwasher works.
The device also doubles as a drying rack when once the dishes are clean, users just open the door to let them air dry or pull out the rack and place it on top.
The Circo is small, from the looks of it only accommodating about two full place settings, but its size is part of its purpose.
The device is aimed at people living in smaller spaces like city apartments where kitchen space is limited and they cannot fit a dishwasher or cannot afford one. The Circo takes up the same amount of room as a drying rack, but far more efficiently cleans your dishes in terms of water and time compared to hand washing and does it without using electricity.
The manual dishwasher is in its final prototype stage and its designer Chen Levin is seeking investors to get it into production.