4 Ways to Save Water While Using a Dishwasher

by Team eLocal

Dishwashers are amazing time-savers. But you may be surprised to learn that these trusty appliances typically use less water than handwashing.

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Even so, there are a few ways to make this efficient appliance even more energy-saving.

How Much Water Does a Typical Dishwasher Use?

According to SFGate, a regular dishwasher uses between 10 and 15 gallons of water per cycle. This figure assumes you have an older dishwasher without an ENERGY STAR rating, and the precise amount used by your appliance depends on the model and manufacturer.

Although non-energy-efficient dishwashers use significantly more water than newer models, they're still a more efficient option than washing by hand. Hand washing the same number of dishes as a standard dishwasher load often requires around 27 gallons of water.

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How Much Water Does an Efficient Dishwasher Use?

Efficient, Energy Start dishwashers often use between three and four gallons of water per cycle, making them the clear winner compared to handwashing. Some of the newest models use as little as 2.7 gallons per cycle. So, how do they get your dishes clean using so little water? Low water use dishwashers recirculate water throughout the cycle instead of constantly flushing water down the drain like you would when washing dishes in the sink.

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How to Save Water Washing Dishes in a Dishwasher

Whether you have a regular dishwasher or an Energy Star model, there are steps you can take to make your dishwashing routine more efficient.

1. Scrape Instead of Prerinsing

Putting dishes caked in food residue inside your dishwasher is a surefire way to clog the machine. However, pre-rinsing the plates with the faucet sprayer significantly increases how much water you use per load. Instead, use a silicone spoon or spatula to scrape food from your dishes and pans before putting them in the dishwasher. Scraping plates is much easier if you do it before the food dries.

2. Focus on Dishwasher Maintenance

Common dishwasher problems, such as clogs and faulty components, can significantly impact your machine's washing power. The less effective your dishwasher is, the more often you'll need to run multiple or longer cycles to get your dishes clean. Clearing blockages promptly and replacing broken parts as soon as you notice them can help keep your dishwasher running efficiently.

3. Switch to an Efficient Model

As we've outlined above, an Energy Star dishwasher is significantly more efficient than an older model. It may not be worth replacing your existing unit if it's relatively new and working well. However, switching to an efficient dishwasher could be a cost-effective option if your current dishwasher is nearing the end of its lifespan or keeps breaking down.

An energy-efficient dishwasher upgrade could save you up to 12 gallons of water per cycle, adding up to colossal savings over the course of a month or year. Furthermore, switching could also save you money on repairing a worn-out model.

4. Know How to Handwash Efficiently

A dishwasher may be the most efficient way to clean dishes, but you may still need to handwash certain items. Knowing how to save water while washing dishes can help you clean non-dishwasher-safe pans, knives and dishes as efficiently as possible.

Consumer Reports recommends plugging your kitchen sink to reduce water loss while washing dishes. If you have a double sink, fill the larger sink with hot, soapy water and the smaller sink with cold, soap-free water. Scrape any loose debris into the bin and then scrub your dishes in hot water, rinsing the suds from clean dishes in the smaller sink.

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