How Much Water Does a Dishwasher Use?

When we were planning our kitchen remodel, one of the discussions was whether to install a dishwasher.  We had room to install one, and it was within our budget, but we question whether it was a good idea from an environmental standpoint.  We researched how much water does a dishwasher use and whether using a dishwasher was better than hand washing.

How Much Water Does a Dishwasher Use

The results surprised me and made the decision easy for us.  

How Much Water Does a Modern Dishwasher Use?

A modern ” Energy Star” rated dishwasher will use around 4 gallons (or 15 liters) of water per wash cycle.  To put this into some perspective and average size kitchen sink holds 9 gallons (or 34 liters).   Older (not Energy Star rated) dishwashers will use around 6 gallons (23 Liters) of water per cycle.

Doing some quick math, I calculated the water savings over a year.  If we did a load a day instead of filling our sink twice a day, we would save 3650 gallons of water per year, quite a saving when you live in an area hit by drought.

Dishwasher Versus Hand Washing?

We have already established that a dishwasher will save you gallons of water, but what are there other benefits over hand washing dishes?

Dishwasher Versus Hand Washing
  • I am Saving on Detergent.  If you are like me, you like to wash up with many suds and bubbles. I know this is wasteful, but I can’t help myself.  I end up using far too much detergent and rinsing my clean plates and glasses.  When I use my dishwasher, I only use the recommended amount of detergent, and the dishwasher takes care of the rinsing.  So my dishwasher is much more efficient than me.
  • We are Saving on Hot Water.  We all like to wash up with hot water; the hotter, the better. I was surprised to find out that my new dishwasher has an energy-efficient water heater.  The dishwasher heats enough water per load and doesn’t rely on your home hot water.  This means you get a clean load of dishes without using your home hot water.
  • We are Saving on Arguments.  Dirty dishes in the sink was a bit of a flashpoint for our family.  There were many arguments about who’s turn it was to wash up and who made the mess.  Now we all place our dirty dishes in the dishwasher after we have used them. Now our home is tranquil and calm (if only it could be with two teenagers).  

Tips to Increase Your Dishwashers Efficiency

No matter how efficient your dishwasher is, if you misuse it, you will decrease efficiency. Here are some tips to make sure you are using your dishwasher correctly.

Tips to Increase Your Dishwashers Efficiency
  • Always Fill the Dishwasher Before Starting It.  Your dishwasher will use the same gallons per cycle if cleaning a full load or just a couple of dishes.  If you only have a couple of dishes to clean, do them by hand.  If you get into the habit of running your dishwasher for half a load, your energy efficiency will go down the drain.
  • Never Pre-Rinse Your Plates.  You may be tempted to rinse your plates before you place them in your dishwasher.  Don’t do this, as running your tap will waste over 2 gallons per minute. This is half of what your dishwasher will use for an entire load.  There is no need for pre-rinsing dishes, scrape off any excess food particles.

What to Look for When Buying a Dishwasher

If you are looking for a new dishwasher, make sure it has the following features.

What to Look for When Buying a Dishwasher
  • Energy Consumption.  Make sure you buy an energy star rated dishwasher.  These energy-efficient appliances will have the lowest gallons per load of water consumption.  They will also use less electricity than the average dishwasher.  This will save you money, and it is more environmentally friendly.
  • Hot Water Heater.  A dishwasher with an inbuilt heater will draw cold water and heat it before washing your dishes.  This heating water will save you money on your household hot water bill. 

With new efficient dishwashers, you can feel good adding it to your list of household appliances.  With water usage of around 4 gallons per dishwasher cycle, you will save water and money.  When you save time by not handwashing dishes, you can spend this time doing the things you love.  Our choice to add the dishwasher to our kitchen is one we have not regretted.

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