water Program

Water Saving Tips: In the Kitchen

You know you can save water by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth, “letting it mellow” and taking care not to waste it while cooking and cleaning. But did you know this direct water use only makes up a small portion of all the water you use? There is way more water – also known as virtual water – in the food, goods and services you consume.  

Read on to learn how to save water in the kitchen (be sure to check out our tips specifically for food and recycling), and take our Water Footprint Calculator to find out how much water you use directly and indirectly each day. 


  • Don’t let your faucet needlessly run while you’re cooking. You’re letting good water (as well as energy and money) run down the drain.
  • Install a low-flow faucet on your sink. Conventional faucets flow at around 5 gallons per minutes, while 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 instead of using your faucet as 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 and cooking fuel. You just need enough to submerge your pasta and potatoes. Plus, 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!
  • Put your vegetable steamer right on top of the rice, potatoes or pasta you're boiling to steam the veggies. You'll save water and have fewer dishes to wash later.
  • Learn about creating a sustainable kitchen from Sustainable Table.

Doing Dishes

  • Get a dishwasher. They almost always use less water than washing dishes by hand, especially with water- and energy-efficient models (just make sure to only run the dishwasher when it’s full). Hand washing one load of dishes can use 20 gallons of water, whereas water- and energy-efficient dishwaters use as little as 4.5 gallons. Over time, that's a big difference!
  • Learn more about ENERGY STAR water- and energy-efficient dishwashers.
  • Use the garbage disposal less and the garbage more. Or even better, compost those scraps. Learn more about kitchen composting.
  • When you do wash dishes by hand, try using a little water to get your sponge soapy and wet, then turning off the faucet until you're ready to rinse a bunch of dishes at once. Better yet, plug the sink or get a tub to wash dishes in so you don't need to let the water run.

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.
  • Choose tap water over bottled – it takes about 1.5 gallons of water to manufacture a single plastic bottle (how crazy is that?) and plastic bottles are always made from new plastic material. 
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