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With the holiday season comes plenty of get-togethers, visits from friends and family, and lots of dishes. So what’s an eco-conscious host to do—load up the dishwasher, or throw on a pair of gloves and start scrubbin’?

Surprisingly, you probably want to stick with the dishwasher, says green cleaning expert Leslie Reichert, author of The Joy of Green Cleaning. “A dishwasher offers more control, since you can adjust the settings—for example, an air dry uses less energy, and you can skip the pots and pans setting if you don’t need it. Plus, a lot of newer models are energy efficient.”

In fact, a new dishwasher can use less than six gallons of water per cycle, whereas research has shown that the average hand-washer uses nearly 30! If you have lots of larger items that have to be hand-washed, or you don’t have a dishwasher, Reichert recommends trying this greener method: Fill one small container with hot soapy water, dip a sponge in it to clean your dish, then, use a second container with just water to rinse.

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