water Program

Water Saving Tips: In the Kitchen

Water use can be direct - turning on a tap - and indirect - the water it takes to produce the goods and services you buy, use and consume every day. Letting your kitchen faucet run continuously while you prepare food or wash dishes or running a dishwasher that isn't full can add gallons to your water footprint.

Take our Water Footprint Calculator to find out how much water you use directly and indirectly each day. We offer lots of tips and advice for lowering your water use. Read on to learn how to save water in the kitchen.


  • Install a low-flow faucet on your sink. Conventional faucets flow at around 5 gallons per minutes, whereas low-flow faucets flow at 1.5 gallons per minute.
  • Wash vegetables and fruits in a large bowl or tub of water and scrub them with a vegetable brush – your faucet is not a power-washer!
  • Think ahead! Don’t use water to defrost frozen foods. Instead, leave them in the fridge overnight.
  • Boil food in as little water as possible to save water andcooking fuel. You just need enough to submerge your pasta and potatoes, and with less water you keep more flavor and nutrients in your veggies.
  • Use the water left over from boiling to water your plants (just let it cool down first!).
  • If you're planning on steaming veggies to go along with rice, potatoes or pasta, put your vegetable steamer right on top of the starchy foods you're boiling. You'll save water, dishes andspace on your stove.
  • Learn about creating a sustainable kitchen from Sustainable Table.

Doing Dishes

  • Dishwashers almost always use less water than washing by hand, especially if they're energy-efficient models. Handwashing one load of dishes can use 20 gallons of water, whereas an energy-efficient dishwater uses as little as 4.5 gallons. That's a big difference if you use a lot of dishes. Just make sure to run the dishwasher only when it’s completely full.
  • When washing dishes by hand, don’t leave the water running the whole time. Just use a little water to get your sponge soapy and wet, then turn off the faucet until you're ready to rinse a bunch of dishes all at once. Better yet, get a tub to wash dishes in so you don't need to let the water run.
  • Scrape dishes into the trash rather than down the sink.
  • Newer dishwashers don’t even require pre-rinsing.
  • Use the garbage disposal less and the garbage more (or even better, start composting!).
  • When washing dishes by hand, use the least amount of detergent possible - this minimizes the water needed for rinsing.

Drinking Water

  • Keep a bottle or pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap to cool it each time you want a drink.
  • Always choose tap water over bottled - it takes about 1.5 gallons of water to manufacture a single plastic bottle.

Learn more about saving water in other areas of your home.