I use vinegar added to water to rinse my dishes.
I probably don't have enough information to determine if hand washing is entirely better than and electric dishwasher. But, in my present circumstances I want to work with what I've got.
I once contacted the author of a website promoting ecologically sound methods of living. I asked about this dish washing issue and his response was pretty judgmental and severe, in my opinion. He was totally against dishwashers, and didn't have much regard for the so called natural product I use to wash with. His comments also included the admonition that I wasn't doing any good if I didn't have pipes going outside into a container so that I could use the grey water for the garden. And, I must do this and that. Yada, yada, yada. It was very discouraging. I began to feel like a planet Earth leech! I didn't bother to write back and tell him I don't water my garden as I have mostly native plants and adaptables growing. I also don't have a traditional lawn with grass that needs weed and feed and mowing.
It's too bad that someone with a wealth of knowledge on the subject thinks only one way. Surely, it would be nice if we could all make a cleaner footprint. But, it is not realistic to think everyone can do it at once. Some must come to it one step at a time. Like me.
Since, I am not always well, I have a supply of paper plates and plastic cutlery. I have become much more judicious in using them. I keep wondering how much it harms the environment, but who to ask? How to determine one factor against another? One paper plate, one plastic fork vs, one regular plate and fork being washed with hot water and rinsed.
On the other hand, the plastic is probably not a very good option. If recycled it has a saving grace, I suppose. I simply don't have enough information to go on with this. I understand there are paper forks and knifes, but haven't found them. I'd feel better about using them than the plastic.
So, I try to do without dishes and cutlery as much as possible, eating food that is carried in my hand, an apple instead of applesauce, for example. But, then I am faced with another dilemma. What if my food has just enough moistness that it needs to be held by a paper napkin. If I use cloth, then I will need to wash it at some point. What is the cost benefit ratio of washing cloth napkins vs paper napkins. In the long run do the paper napkins waste more ecologically than the cloth napkins?