People are being urged to use dishwashers rather than clean their crockery by hand in an attempt to ease the water crisis in the South-east.
The practice of washing and rinsing dishes by hand wastes millions of litres of water every day, according to a study by the UK pressure group Waterwise.
The study showed that new, water-efficient dishwashers used as little as nine litres of water per wash, although the average was between 12 and 16 litres. By contrast, washing and rinsing dishes by hand used as much as 63 litres.
According to the study, just under 30 per cent of households in the UK use a dishwasher, compared to 5 per cent in 1977. But growth rates have slowed and the number of households with dishwashers in the UK compares poorly with other European countries.
If in the UK, this figure was to rise to 40 per cent, the country would save up to 75 million litres of water every day, which is enough water to supply a city the size of Liverpool.
Waterwise said each person in the UK used about 150 litres of water every day. This has been rising steadily by 1 per cent a year since 1980. Washing dishes and clothes accounts for around 20 per cent of daily use.
Jacob Tompkins, director at Waterwise said: "The study shows that increased dishwasher ownership will have a positive impact on the environment. Using water-efficient appliances, such as dishwashers, will ensure a sustainable water supply for the future.
He added: "The results of this study show that increased ownership would have a huge impact on the amount of water that we use for washing up."
The study was commissioned by the dishwasher manufacturer Bosch and the detergent- maker Finish.Reuse content