Why You Should Run Water at the Sink Before Starting the Dishwasher

by Selina Kyle
running water from a faucet

If you’re like most homeowners, you’re always looking for ways to make your home — its HVAC systems and your appliances — run more efficiently.

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Some appliance repair specialists strongly recommend running water prior to starting the dishwasher to improve efficiency, while others say it’s no longer necessary with some modern models.

Why Do Some Appliance Technicians Recommend Running Hot Water at the Sink Before Starting Your Dishwasher?

If you’ve noticed that your dishwasher isn’t cleaning your dishes as well as it should, the first thing some technicians may ask is if you preheat the water before starting the machine. Running hot water before the dishwasher starts is especially important if your dishwasher is installed a long way from the water heater. The further away your machine is from the hot water source, the longer it takes for the hot water to move through the cold water pipes and start pumping into your dishwasher.

Washing soiled dishes in mostly cold water impacts cleanliness and can impact your dishwasher’s performance and efficiency. Some appliance experts will tell you that running hot water before starting your machine helps eliminate cold water in the pipes, which could affect the dishwasher’s ability to reach and maintain the desired temperature. When preheated water immediately flows into the dishwasher, it enhances its effectiveness and efficiency.

If your dishwasher only maintains hot water after it’s been supplied but doesn’t actually heat cold water, the water never reaches a hot enough temperature to do a thorough job of cleaning your dishes. Many newer dishwashers include heating elements that actually heat the water itself, so the machine can turn cold water into hot water.

However, when a dishwasher must heat the water, it cycles longer, meaning you’re running up your energy bill each time you start your dishwasher with cold water in the pipes. Typically, it takes a dishwasher 1 minute to heat water by 1 degree. Depending on the initial temperature of the water, it could take 30 minutes to heat the water inside the appliance to the desired temperature.

When you run the hot water before the dishwasher cycles start, you provide the hottest possible water from the beginning, helping dishwasher detergents dissolve and activate more effectively. Hot water also helps remove debris and grease from your dishes more easily and can even help glasses dry without spots.

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Is It Really More Efficient?

Running water in the sink may seem counterproductive from a water and energy conservation standpoint, but it can actually be more efficient in the long run. When you run hot water through the cold pipes, it reduces the amount of time it takes your dishwasher to heat the water to the desired temperature, ultimately saving energy and making it the more efficient approach.

To prevent wasting the water you’re running at the sink, use it to prerinse or wash dishes by hand that can’t run through the dishwasher. You can also collect it in a pitcher for watering plants, filling a pet’s water dish, rinsing produce or other uses that don’t require hot water.

Overall, running hot water at the sink before starting your dishwasher enhances the machine’s performance. Although it may seem wasteful initially, the improved cleaning efficiency and energy savings justify the practice. Moreover, you can collect the water and reuse it instead of letting it run unchecked down the sink to prevent being wasteful.

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