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Drastic But Efficient Way to Learn to Save Water at Home

Updated on February 8, 2011
Saving water is as simple as taking apart your kitchen sink pipes for a little while and learning some tough lessons!
Saving water is as simple as taking apart your kitchen sink pipes for a little while and learning some tough lessons!

There are many good reasons why we should each get in the habit of saving more water at home. The two main reasons, of course, are because saving water is good for the earth and because it reduces our water bills so it’s also good for our bank accounts. We all know the basic things that we’re supposed to do to save water at home (like installing low flow showerheads and turning off the faucet when we’re brushing our teeth). But I’ve got a tip for getting more in the habit of saving water that I doubt you’ve ever heard before. Based on personal experience, I think it’s a great way to learn to save more water at home.


The tip is to make doing dishes difficult on yourself so that you can understand exactly how much water you are wasting. It feels drastic when you start it but it’s a rapid way to get a good understanding of how much water goes down the kitchen sink drain without you even realizing it. Here are the steps to follow if you’re curious:

o   Let your dishes pile up for as long as you possibly can. This means that you keep adding dishes to your sink and countertops until you actually run out of something that you need (like glasses or silverware). Now will be the time to do your dishes. But before you do …

o   Get underneath the kitchen sink and take apart the pipe down there. Typically there is a U-shaped pipe and all that you need to do is to remove the U-part. Now place a bucket underneath the pipe. When you run water from your faucet now, it will fall directly into the bucket that you’ve placed underneath the sink instead of draining down into your kitchen pipes like it normall does.

o   Okay, now you’re ready to do the dishes. As you do, of course, the water is going to fill up in the bucket. Each time that it fills up, you’ll need to stop doing your dishes and take the bucket over to your tub or toilet to dump it out. Then you’ll have to start over. Finish doing all of your dishes in this manner.


You may be asking yourself what the point is of going through all of this hassle and headache. Believe me, you’ll really be asking yourself that by the time you’ve taken a fourth or fifth trip to the tub to dump out that soapy water from the kitchen sink. But here’s the thing – you’ll learn a lot from the experience. Some of the things that you’re going to learn include:

o   You’ll see how much water is being wasted. The major thing that you’re going to learn when you do this little experiment is that you’re wasting a whole lot of water every single time that you do dishes. This is something that you may be vaguely aware of but you don’t really understand the full extent of that water waste until you’re physically lugging those buckets of water across your home for an hour. This will give you a much greater appreciation of the water that is being wasted in your home, which will in turn encourage and inspire you to take water saving measures.

o   You will immediately begin to spot ways to reduce water waste when doing dishes. It will only take a couple of trips to dump out your water before you begin to start thinking of ways to allow less water to get into that bucket as you do your dishes! You’ll start to turn the faucet off while you soap up the dishes so that the water isn’t filling up the bucket while you’re soaping. You’ll start to soak the dirtiest dishes in a bit of water to get the grime loosened rather than allowing the water to continue running onto them while you scrub. These are little tricks that you may be aware of but you just don’t pay them a lot of attention because you don’t realize how much water you’re wasting by not doing these things. When you’re standing there watching that bucket fill up and dreading taking it across the house again, you’ll start to really appreciate how each little bit of water waste can really add up and you will find a lot of creative ways to reduce that water waste while you do those dishes!

o   You will get a lot of ideas about how to utilize all of that water that is going down the drain. One of the things that I found naturally happening when I did this little experiment myself was that as I carried each bucket full of water over to my tub to dump it out, I started thinking about how sad it was that the water was just going down the drain. Inevitably, I started thinking about greywater usage in the home. I started thinking of many ways that I could be utilizing that water to further reduce water waste in the house. Greywater is a topic that a lot of people know about but don’t really bother with or appreciate. I found that this little experiment helped me gain a lot better perspective on the value of greywater.

Now I’ll readily admit that I didn’t initially do this experiment because I wanted to. My sink broke and it took awhile to get it fixed and the whole thing happened out of necessity. However, I think it was a great way to rapidly begin to understand the true amount of water that we waste at home on a regular basis. Even once the pipes were fixed, my water saving methods continued. I challenge you to find the same!


Submit a Comment

  • watergeek profile image


    6 years ago from Pasadena CA

    For some reason, it's harder to cut back in the kitchen than in the bathroom. What do you do with garbage disposals, which use a lot of water, if you don't compost because you live in a 3rd floor apartment?

    BTW dishwashers do help save water. I've written a hub about it that includes a chart showing how much can be saved.

  • vydyulashashi profile image


    7 years ago from Hyderabad,India

    Wonderful and interesting points.

    Great Hub.

    God Bless You!

  • nicomp profile image

    nicomp really 

    7 years ago from Ohio, USA

    @DzyMsLizzy : Is there a way to do the dishes without water? Is the first drop 'wasted' or is there an objective point in the process when the waste begins?

    Disconnecting the drain pipe is a neat idea, as long as everyone in the house remembers to empty the bucket. It's a very unsanitary configuration and will probably result in an increased incidence of illness in the household, but it is an interesting object lesson.

  • graceomalley profile image


    7 years ago

    Any idea how running the dishwasher compares with handwashing for water usage?

  • DzyMsLizzy profile image

    Liz Elias 

    7 years ago from Oakley, CA

    @nicomp--it's not the DOING of the dishes, it's the method used!

  • nicomp profile image

    nicomp really 

    7 years ago from Ohio, USA

    Why is doing the dishes considered to be wasting water?

  • Eiddwen profile image


    7 years ago from Wales

    A great hub which I'm sure that many will find useful.

    They are very effective and well explained.

    Thanks for sharing

    take care


  • DzyMsLizzy profile image

    Liz Elias 

    7 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Interesting......Hmmmm... Well, that would work if you have a normal P-trap. If there is a garbage disposer, you can't very easily take the pipe fact, you should not attempt it unless you really know plumbing...those have to be unscrewed from the actual bottom of the sink itself, and they are HEAVY! If you have a dishwasher as well, there are multiple connections to the disposer, and it is a royal PITA to re-install. Trust me...we had a handyman/handygal service....been there, done that!

    It would be a lot easier to just put the stopper in the sink, grab a bucket of known capacity, fill it up, dump it into the sink, and repeat until the sink is full to near the top, counting buckets as you go. Multiply by the bucket capacity, and you'll know how much your sink holds.

    Now, let out the water, replace the stopper, and start on the dishes. Let all the water out each time the sink fills up, keeping count, and you'll know how much water you used.

    Easier still: Just don't leave the water running through the whole process. Turn it on enough to wet the dishes, soap your cloth, sponge or whatever, then turn it off, wash enough dishes to fill up any empty space, or the other sink, if you have a dual sink, then rinse those dishes, and turn the water off again.

  • The Pink Panther profile image

    The Pink Panther 

    7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

    Sounds harsh, but some excellent water-saving tips here. Our household could really cut back on our water useage implementing some of this.

    Great hub!

  • cwarden profile image


    7 years ago from USA

    Wow, this is an excellent idea! I am continually nagging my grown children about this. I get so upset because they will walk away and answer the phone or get in the fridge while the water is running in the sink. I think it's time for a lesson. Thanks!

  • gguy profile image


    7 years ago from new jersey usa

    Interesting points, we do waste a lot of water, if you do remove the trap under the sink, you should block off the pipe coming from the wall with an old rag or something, otherwise sewer gas and even insects and rodents can enter the home.


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