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Dishwashers: Use & Care

Use & Care

Lower the Heat

Turn your water heater thermostat down to 120°F. Internal booster heaters in modern dishwashers raise the wash cycle water temperature to 140° F. Some dishwashers even do this regardless of the temperature of the incoming water so you end up heating the water twice.

Energy-Saving Mode

Use the energy saving mode to conserve half the water (and water heating energy) used by other cycles1.

Air It Out

If possible, choose an air-dry cycle that uses unheated air to dry your dishes. You can save 15-50% of your dishwasher’s operational cost with this feature.2  If your model does not offer this option, stop your dishwasher just before the dry cycle and open the machine to allow your dishes to air dry.

Fill It Up

Only run your dishwasher when it is full. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a few dishes or a full load make little difference in your dishwasher’s use of water and energy. For best results, be sure to stack dishes neatly in the dishwasher trays.

Skip the Rinse

Scrape your dishes and skip pre-rinsing them in the sink. Most new dishwashers are designed to clean off small pieces of food left after big pieces are scraped off.

Hand Washing Efficiently

If you don’t have a dishwasher, hand wash dishes in loads, filling one sink with hot soapy water and the other with cold rinse water. Install a low-flow faucet aerator to further reduce the amount of water you use.

Buyer’s Guide

Before you shop for efficiency upgrades, visit the Dishwasher Buyer’s Guide for easy facts and figures that can help you choose the best materials for your home, needs and budget. Return to Kitchen Appliances.


If you’re thinking about making efficiency improvements, the Dishwashers Overview is a great place to get acquainted with the basics and your options, before you buy a new dishwasher for your home. Return to Kitchen Appliances.

1Goorskey, Sarah, Wang, K., Smith, A. (2004). Home Energy Briefs: #6 Cleaning Appliances. Snowmass, CO: Rocky Mountain Institute. Retrieved October 5, 2012, from www.rmi.org (p. 5).
2California Energy Commission. (2012). Consumer Energy Center: Appliances: Dishwashers. Retrieved October 4, 2012, from www.consumerenergycenter.org

This program is funded by California utility customers and administered by Southern California Edison under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.

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