How to Use Your Dishwasher Better

Dishwashing consumes a lot of water, electricity, chemicals, and your time, so an effective method can help you save a lot of each. There is still disagreement over whether washing by hand or using a dishwasher is more environmentally friendly, but if you do have a dishwasher or are considering buying one, here is some extra in-depth information to keep it running green.

1. Put a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.

Wait until you have a full load before starting the dishwasher (same rule of thumb for the clothes washer). This will help you get the most out of the machine’s energy, water, and detergent. It is beneficial to load the dishwasher efficiently.

2. Select Your Dishwasher Carefully

Free Empty Dishwasher  Stock Photo

Choose a dishwasher with high energy and water efficiency ratings. In the United States, search for Energy Star-rated appliances, which use 25% less energy than the minimum required. Also, learn how to read the yellow EnergyGuide sticker that comes standard on all new dishwashers and other appliances. Adjustable upper racks (to accommodate a larger range of dishes), flatware slots (to keep your cutlery separated and easier to clean), and several cycle options, including half-load and eco cycles, are all included as extras. Also, pay attention to the decibel rating; inexpensive dishwashers can be really noisy, which is not something you want in a tiny apartment. Spend a bit more to obtain one with higher insulation and the lowest possible Db rating.

3. Become a member of the Clean Plate Club.

Choose natural, biodegradable dishwashing liquids and powders that are devoid of petroleum and phosphates. Look for products that are sold in bulk to save money on packaging. Powdered detergents are lighter than liquid detergents and hence require less energy to transport. See How to Green Your Cleaning Routine for more information. If you’re having trouble spotting with phosphate-free detergents, consider a natural residue remover like Wave Jet.

4. Do not use a pre-rinse.

Because most dishwashers today are powerful enough to remove all of the filth, doing it by hand is often a waste of water and effort. Plus, if you wash away all the dirt, your dog won’t have anything to lick when you’re putting the plates in.

5. Lower the thermostat.

The water that comes from your home’s water tank is heated by booster heaters in most modern dishwashers. Isn’t that a bit redundant? By lowering the water tank’s temperature to 120 degrees, you can save even more electricity without sacrificing cleanliness.

6. Allow to air dry

Free Close-up Photo of Dishwasher Tool  Stock Photo

Instead of allowing your washer to dry the dishes with electric heat or a fan, simply open the door at the conclusion of the cycle and let them air dry. Allow the dishes to dry overnight, and they will be ready when you wake up. Moisture-absorbing minerals, such as those found in the Siemens Zeolith dishwasher, are another alternative. During the wash cycle, the minerals absorb heat and then release it during the dry cycle, while also absorbing moisture. They have the potential to cut electricity consumption by 20%.

7. Select the Correct Size

Select the model size that best suits your requirements. Unless you need to run it multiple times a day, a tiny model is more efficient than a large one. This could be ideal for a single individual.

8. Limit the number of dishes you prepare.

Using fewer plates and utensils throughout the day means fewer dishwasher loads, which saves energy, water, and detergent.

9. Keep big appliances separate from one another.

Because of the heat from the washer, placing your dishwasher next to your refrigerator will make the fridge work harder.

10. Dishwasher should be run during off-peak hours.

Set your dishwasher to start during off-peak utility hours (many units have timers that will start the cycle at a programmed time). Some utilities even offer discounted rates for energy consumed during this time, which is likely to become more popular in the United States.

By the Numbers: Green Dishwashing

  • In addition to saving 1000 gallons of water, replacing a 1994 dishwasher with a contemporary model can save you $40 per year in energy costs.
  • The amount of energy needed by dishwashers to heat hot water is 80 percent.
  • Every month, you can save 1000 gallons of water by only running your dishwasher when it’s full.
  • 280 million therms of natural gas would be saved by 2025 if clothing and dishwashers were more energy efficient. This is enough to heat 500,000 homes in the United States.
  • By 2025, Energy Star-rated appliances will have saved 175 billion gallons of water, enough to cover the requirements of 3 million people.

Getting Techie with Green Dishwashing

Free Empty Rack of Dishwasher Stock Photo

Dishwashers are more efficient than hand-washing, according to research.

Even the most frugal hand washer couldn’t compete in efficiency with a modern dishwashing machine, according to research done at the University of Bonn in Germany. Christine Lepisto of TreeHugger writes: “According to the Bonn study, the dishwasher uses half the energy and one-sixth the water, as well as less soap. Even the most careful and sparing washers could not compete with the modern dishwasher.”

Sensors that detect dirt consume more energy.

Consumer Reports discovered that “smart” washers with dirt sensors use “much more energy for extremely filthy loads than nonsensor versions.” Most of the time, the increased consumption is not reflected in the EnergyGuide sticker rating. When shopping for a new machine, Consumer Reports recommends ignoring this pricey feature.

Water Heaters: Gas vs. Electric

According to Consumer Reports, the heating of water, both within the machine and in the home’s water heater, accounts for 80% of a dishwasher’s energy use. The motor and drying heater or fan consume the remaining 20% of the energy. The washers CS tested utilized between 31.5 and 12 gallons of water each load. “With a gas water heater, the annual cost of operating might range from $25 to $67, or $30 to $86 with an electric water heater,” they say. (According to Consumer Reports)

Disinfecting and Cleaning Non-Reusable Containers

Dishwashing non-reusable containers such as water bottles, especially at high temperatures, can cause them to break down and leak dangerous chemicals. Make sure you only put dishwasher-safe objects in the machine if you intend to eat or drink from them. For the same reason, you should look for a dishwasher with a non-plastic interior.


The final product to contain phosphates, which were extremely successful at eliminating stains and grease, were dishwasher detergents. It can’t be removed from wastewater, though, and whenever it got into fresh water, it caused eutrophication, or algae blooms. While phosphates are not banned in all jurisdictions, dishwasher detergent producers have stopped using them. Since then, people have been complaining that their dishwashers aren’t working as well, yet dishwasher detergent formulas have improved year after year.

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