In a pickle: How to conserve water in the kitchen

You’ve probably noticed that it’s hot. Real hot. This summer the United States is facing the worst drought in decades and more than 60 percent of the country is affected. Whether your area is looking like the dust bowl or not, we can all take steps to conserve water in our homes, starting with the kitchen.

Woman loading dishwasher

Depending on where you live, you may already have been forced to take action. Some localities, like Decatur, Illinois, are imposing water-use restrictions on their residents, limiting things like how often they can water their lawns. The governor of Missouri, meanwhile, has declared a state of emergency in response to the drought and heat. Don’t wait for it to get to this point — think about where you can cut back on your water usage to help conserve what we’ve got.


If you use a dishwasher, don’t bother prerinsing the dishes, only run it when it’s fully loaded and use the lightest setting possible. If you wash dishes by hand, don’t let the water run continuously while you do it. Instead, allow them to soak in a basin of water, wash them using that water and just quickly rinse.


Do you hear a dripping sound even when you’ve turned off your kitchen faucet? That means you have a leak! It can be a small fix like tightening the faucet or might require the help of a professional. Either way, look into it.

Watch a video on how to save water doing the dishes >>


A quick method of defrosting frozen items is to run them under water until thawed. Instead, plan ahead and allow frozen foods to defrost overnight in the refrigerator. It won’t be as quick, but it will save a lot of water.

More tips for conserving in the kitchen >>


Use as little water as possible when cooking. Instead of pasta, which uses quite a bit of water to cook, make mashed potatoes or roasted vegetables. Make rice with chicken broth instead of water. If steaming, just use about an inch of water in the pan. And if you want to poach your food, try using a different liquid, like stock or fruit juice.


When it’s hot, we often reach for a cold glass of water. Instead of running the faucet until the water is cold, keep a pitcher of water in the fridge (or use bottled water) at all times.


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