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How Much Water do Dishwashers Use?

A collage of dishwashers.

The amount of water that a dishwasher uses depends on the cycle as well as the type of washer, and whether it’s an energy-efficient model which could be anywhere from 4 to 14 gallons of water. 

I always thought that dishwashers use a lot of water until I bought mine which came with a water-saver setting. Whether my dishes are very dirty or barely there, this setting works perfectly. Not every dishwasher is the same though.

Let’s cycle into the dishwasher process and learn how much water it uses and how we could save this resource. 

How Much Water Do Dishwashers Use

Portable Countertop Dishwasher, 5 Washing Programs, Built-in 3-Cups Water Tank, 3D Cyclone Spray, Fruit & Vegetable Cleaning with Basket, High Temperature, Air Drying - Lights, Faucet Adapter Included

You might have questioned if dishwashers use a lot of water or if they might help you save money on your water bill. Most modern dishwashers are more energy-efficient than older models, though this does vary by brand.

An up-to-date dishwashing machine with the Energy Star label will prove more productive than an older one. Dishwashers made before 1994 can waste between 9g and 14g of water every load.

However, modern Energy Star dishwashing uses under four gallons each load, even at the regular size. They are programmed to preheat the water and utilize just the right amount of water to clean the dishes thoroughly. Instead of using a dishwasher, you may waste upwards of 40 gallons of water washing the exact number of dishes by hand.

Tips For Reducing Our Dishwasher’s Water Usage

View from inside the dishwasher while washing dishes.

More water can be saved by using a modern dishwasher than ever before. If you follow these guidelines, your dishwasher will last longer and use less water while still cleaning your dishes thoroughly.

  • Skip the sink’s pre-cleaning rinse to save water. When we hand wash dishes instead of using the dishwasher, we can waste up to 20 gallons of water.
  • Wait until you have a full load before performing any cycles.
  • Make sure no debris or obstructions are blocking the arm sprayer within the dishwasher. Since this is the case, fewer dishwasher cycles will be required.
  • Eco settings reduce energy consumption by washing dishes at a lower temperature and with less water.
  • Make sure your dishes always come out clean by using a high-quality detergent like Quantum®.

Which Cycle We Use Determines How Often Much Water the Dishwasher Uses

On average, a dishwasher cycle will use just over three gallons of water. This ranges from 1.13 gallons for rinsing only, to just over seven gallons with a heavy setting. When set on normal, the dishwasher can use anywhere between 2.6 and 6 gallons of water.

Water consumption during automatic cycles may be between 130% and 220% of the specified amount (4 – 7 gallons).

Because there are a variety of washing phases, including pre-wash, primary wash, and Rinse, the total volume of water utilized varies depending on the cycle type.

Water consumption varies between stages, and the cycles themselves can be repeated an unlimited number of times. The rinse cycle saves water because it just has one stage, the Rinse stage. The greatest water is consumed during the heavy cycle since it repeats each stage of the washing process.

Dishwasher vs Hand Washing Water Usage

A collage of two women hand washing and using dishwasher.

What is the difference between using a dishwasher and washing dishes by hand in terms of water usage? One cycle in a modern dishwasher uses 1.6 to 3.5 gallons of water, but hand cleaning might use anywhere from 9 to 27 gallons.

Dishwashers today use much less water than they did 30 years ago. But some of the older models can consume up to 16 gallons of water in a single cycle. In turn, this reduces the likelihood of water savings.

A typical cycle in a modern dishwasher uses 3.22 liters of water, which is about the same as running a kitchen faucet for 1.5–2.5 minutes. If you’re like me and can’t manage to wash all your dishes by hand in under an hour, then using a contemporary dishwasher is the most water-efficient choice.

Do Dishwashers Help Save Money?

Man's hand opening the dishwasher.

Many people ask if it is more economical to use a dishwasher or to wash dishes by hand. Research, however, has debunked the idea that handwashing is more effective.

A typical dishwasher, for instance, consumes about 9.5 liters of water throughout a cycle. When compared to using a dishwasher, washing dishes by hand might waste up to 60 liters of water.

Among major home appliances, dishwashers typically consume the least amount of electricity. However, the dishwasher is among the most utilized home appliances and is frequently subject to excessive use.

Below are a few key pointers that can help you save resources without sacrificing efficiency or convenience.

  • Don’t bother with a preliminary rinse
  • Do Complete Loads Only
  • Utilize Water-saving settings
  • Machine dimensions
  • Adjust for Energy Efficiency
  • Machine Size and Energy Label

Don’t Bother With a Preliminary Rinse

Dishwasher tales are common, and one of the most common includes pre-rinsing dishes. Many of us assume that by loading the dishwasher, we are doing it a favor. We’re making things worse for Earth rather than better.

Pre-rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher is a huge water waster, with the average UK home wasting about 6,000 gallons of water annually.

In reality, modern dishwashers are constructed to survive even the most persistent stains on silverware at extremely high temperatures, leaving behind only sparkling clean dishes.

Not only will you save money on your water bill, but you will also be helping to preserve an increasingly scarce resource.

You don’t have to rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, but it will work more efficiently if you scrape off any large pieces of food. This will also help keep the dishwasher’s pipes from becoming clogged.

Do Complete Loads Only

Run the dishwasher only when it’s full to minimize the consumption of both water and electricity. Energy and water savings can be maximized using this strategy.

A terrible routine of starting a cycle when the dishwater is just half full is easy to develop. However, Earth will appreciate your contribution to its fullness.

Don’t stuff your silverware into your dishwasher, or it might not get clean. Then you’ll have to either hand wash the silverware or run another cycle.

Utilize Water-saving Settings

Whether you realize it or not, your dishwasher has several different options for how it operates. Using an Eco mode is the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative. This approach consumes less energy because it requires less water at a lower temperature, and many modern dishwashers have energy-efficient settings that can save you up to 20% on electricity costs alone.

Drying Time After Washing

Dishwashers typically have an additional drying phase at the end of the cycle, where they employ either electric heat or a fan to dry the dishes. However, you can save electricity by releasing the dishwasher door once the wash cycle is complete and allowing the silverware and dishes to dry in the air.

Saving Energy With Our Dishwasher

Built-in dishwaher machine in a modern kitchen.

A dishwasher may be our savior, but it isn’t without its drawbacks. We need confidence that our dishwasher is in good working order so that we can contribute to the national energy grid and, by extension, the environment. 

So, in keeping with our mutual goal of reducing our energy consumption, here are some further pointers to think about:

Placement of Dishwasher

The best spot for your dishwasher is right next to the sink, away from any other major equipment. The only reasons to put it near the sink are for plumbing and ease of use.

A dishwasher’s heat output will increase the workload of nearby refrigeration units, so keep that in mind if you plan on installing the dishwasher close to a fridge or freezer.

The capacity of Home Appliances

The bigger the appliance, the higher the energy and financial costs will be. Nonetheless, it is recommended that you check the energy ratings of various appliances and pick a dishwasher based on your specific demands.

Selecting a Dishwasher

Before purchasing a replacement, consider the energy efficiency rating. Ideally, you would select a dishwasher that uses minimal amounts of both water and electricity.

A good rule of thumb is to look for a product with an energy efficiency rating of AA+ or higher, though every brand is different and you should shop around.

Related: Dishwasher Dimensions and Buying Guide | Do Dishwashers Use Hot Water?