Choosing and Using Dishwashers Wisely

Dishes can pile up fast! Instead of putting your gloves on and scrubbing your dishes, why not let your dishwasher do the dirty work?  In fact, that is what they are made to do, and it is why you have one in the first place.  But there are some things to keep in mind about purchasing and using a dishwasher that you should know.

Purchasing a dishwasherLook for the ENERGY STAR® symbol


When you are in the market for a new dishwasher, look for the little blue star. The ENERGY STAR label indicates that the model has met strict energy efficiency standards. An ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher uses, on average, 12% less energy and 30% less water than a standard model. Dishwashers that have earned the ENERGY STAR Most Efficient designation are the best of the best in energy savings. By choosing an ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher, you can save money on your utility bills and reduce your carbon footprint.

A new ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher uses less than half of the energy used when washing dishes by hand – and it saves more than 8,000 gallons of water each year!  A standard-sized ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher costs about $35 per year to run and can save you an average 3,870 gallons of water over its lifetime.

Dishwasher technology has improved dramatically over the last decade and new ENERGY STAR certified models include several innovations like soil sensors, improved water filtration, more efficient jets, and dish rack designs that reduce energy and water consumption and improve performance. By reducing water consumption, ENERGY STAR certified dishwashers also help protect our lakes, streams, and oceans.

To look more into energy efficient dishwashers go to https://www.energystar.gov/products/dishwashers . 

Use your dishwasher more efficiently for big savings

Using your dishwasher is more energy efficient than washing your dishes by hand AND it is a lot less hassle. But how you use the dishwasher is almost as important.  By using the dishwasher more efficiently you can save even more money and energy in the kitchen. Here are some simple dishwasher tips to help you optimize your savings:

Skip the rinse – just scrape and go

With the right dishwasher and detergent, there is no need to pre-rinse dishes before loading them into your dishwasher. Just scrape all the loose food off your dishes, load them in the dishwasher and let your dishwasher do its job.  If you must rinse, a light rinse will do just fine.


Think twice about washing the dishes by hand

Washing dishes by hand wastes more energy and water than using an ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher; avoid washing the dishes in the sink in between runs and use the dishwasher for larger items that are dishwasher safe such as pots and pans.

Be certain to load the dishwasher properly


The user manual will illustrate how to properly position dishes, flatware, glasses, and cookware to optimize their cleaning.  A lot will depend in the type of items in the dishwasher and what features the dishwasher has.  However, there are a few universal rules: 1) Run the dishwasher on a full load, 2) be careful not to overload the dishwasher, and 3) do not block the arms or other moving parts.  

Eco modeUse ‘eco-mode’


The majority of dishwasher users choose the same type of setting all the time, usually selecting a high-temperature program. Instead, use the ‘eco-mode’ setting that automatically programs optimum settings for reducing water and energy use. No ‘eco-mode’ option? Just match the type of program to the needs of your load.

Air dry dishes

Let your dishes air dry by turning on the air-dry setting instead of using the heat-dry setting on your dishwasher.

Rinse aidUse a rinse aid


Nearly all dishwashers have a rinse aid dispenser.  A rinse aid helps sheet water off glasses and dishes to make help them dry quicker and prevent to prevent spotting and streaking.

Source: Choosing and Using Dishwashers Wisely | Department of Energy