How Much Water Does a Dishwasher Use?

Dishwashers are one of the most important appliances in your kitchen. You only realize its importance in your life when it is not working, and you have to do dishes in the sink. While standing at the sink and doing dishes with your hand, you wonder how much water you have wasted and do your dishwasher consumes the same amount of water for dishwashing.

Well. No. It is a very well-established and researched fact that dishwashers use way less water than hand washing. But how much do they use, and how can you further cut water usage? Your mind is racing with questions like how much water a certain brand of dishwasher use, how much my dishwasher contributes to my monthly water bill and how can I make it more water-efficient.

Don’t worry. We have the answers to all your questions.

How Much Water Does a Dishwasher Use

In this article, we will discuss how much water your dishwasher uses per load. We will also highlight average water consumption by dishwashers from a different brand and some tips on cutting water used by dishwashers.

This article will not only help you to know more about your dishwasher; it will also help you commit towards environment conservation and saving the most valuable resource on planet earth: water.

So, how much water does a dishwasher use?

So how much water does a dishwasher use

The average water consumption for the standard-sized dishwasher is 4.2 gallons (15.8 liters) per cycle or load. Compact size dishwashers use around 3.5 gallons (13.2 liters) per cycle.

Dishwashers built before 1994 used as much as 9-15 gallons (34-56 liters) per cycle.

Energy Star certified dishwashers are more water-efficient. A standard-size Energy Star certified dishwasher uses around 3.2 (12.2 liters) gallons of water per load. Compact models with Energy Star certification use 2.7 gallons (10.2 liters) of water on an average for one load.

You can see how technology has helped us save water and conserve water sources such as lakes, rivers, streams, and underground water sources.

Using an Energy Star certified dishwasher is a big plus for people using city water in their homes. Unlike well water users, they have to pay for the water they use. It doesn’t mean that well water users can wastewater. It is their ethical responsibility to conserve water and avoid wastage by using Energy Star certified and water-conserving appliances.

Interesting Info: Did you know that LG Dishwasher AE Error Code occurs because of water leakage? If you own LG’s dishwasher, you should check this guide.

Brand Wise Dishwasher Water Usage

It is very important to know how much water a particular brand of dishwasher use. We cannot list estimates for every brand because there are 100s of brands selling dishwashers in North America. This article will list water usage for some of the top brands like Bosch, Amana, Beko, Frigidaire, GE, Kenmore, KitchenAid, LG, Maytag, Samsung, Whirlpool, Avanti, Electrolux, Fisher & Paykel, Danby, Faberware, and Magic Chef. You can check details about more brands here.

Brand Wise Dishwasher Water Usage
Water Consumption/Cycle
Brand Size Gallons Liters
Bosch Standard 2.9 10.73
Amana Standard 3.5 12.95
Beko Standard 2.4 8.88
Frigidaire Standard 2.7 9.99
GE Standard 3.5 12.95
Kenmore Standard 2.9 10.73
KitchenAid Standard 3.5 12.95
LG Standard 2.9 10.73
Maytag Standard 3.5 12.95
Samsung Standard 3.5 12.95
Whirlpool Standard 3.1 11.47
Avanti Standard 3.1 11.47
Electrolux Standard 2.7 9.99
Fisher & Paykel Compact 1.8 6.66
Danby Compact 3.1 11.47
Faberware Compact 3.1 11.47
Magic Chef Compact 3.1 11.47

Please note that this usage can vary in practical conditions. The age of your machine, detergent quality, chemical nature of water (hard/soft), the temperature of the water, and dirtiness of your dishes impact water usage. We will discuss these factors in detail later in this article.

Water usage is also different in two models of one brand. Therefore, we recommend checking the user manual of the machine before buying one.

Dishwasher Water Usage and Cycle Types

Dishwasher Water Usage and Cycle Types

A dishwasher comes with quite a few options for running a wash cycle. Water usage will change accordingly as the cycle changes.

The latest and advanced models come with sensors that judge the soil level on your dishes and adjust the cycle time/water usage. These machines are best, but if you pre-rinse some of your dishes, the sensor gets tricked, and the machine’s system believes that the dishes are clean and it stops halfway or runs for a longer time.

It can result in dirty dishes once the wash cycle is complete or a longer cycle resulting in more water usage. We don’t want both of these to happen.

A standard dishwasher usually comes with normal mode, tough clean, light wash, express wash, rinse only, hot wash, or sanitized wash. Each cycle consumes a different amount of water. You can check the exact water consumption in each cycle for a particular machine in its user manual.

Water consumption for a standard-sized dishwasher according to the wash mode is given below

  • 5-3 gallons (9.4-11 liters) of water in normal and light wash mode
  • 5 gallons (32 liters) in tough (deep/hard clean) cycle
  • 6 gallons (22 liters) in express wash
  • 4 gallons (9 liters) for rinse only
  • 3 gallons (11 liters) for hot wash
  • 5-7 gallons (5.6-26 liters) for sanitized wash

Factors Affecting Dishwasher Water Usage

A lot of factors come into play while running your dishwasher and its water usage. Let’s check out these factors. A study of these factors will help you limit water usage by your dishwasher. Moreover, these factors will also help you while buying a new dishwasher for your home.

Dishwasher’s Age: Your dishwasher’s age matters a lot when it comes to its water consumption. Older machines used up to 10 gallons of water for one load. The U.S. Department of Energy established a standard for dishwashers’ water consumption. This standard mentions that all standard-sized dishwashers established on or after 30th May 2013 would not have a water usage of more than 5 gallons per wash. The rating for compact and portable dishwashers is set to 3.5 gallons per wash.

Hence, it is best to buy a dishwasher manufactured after 30th May 2013.

Energy Star Rating: You must only buy an Energy Star certified dishwasher. These machines save you around 3870 (14649.54 liters) of water over their lifetime. That’s a lot of water. Moreover, these models cost only $35 to run per year.

Wash Cycle: The wash cycle you also select matters. We have already explained how water consumption differs from one wash cycle to another. Adding wash cycles like a heated wash, high temperature, and sanitize increase the cycle time. It results in increased water usage and more electricity consumption.

Pre-Rinsing your Dishes: You don’t specifically need to use water to clear off stuck debris and food residue on your dishes. This is what dishwashers are supposed to do. A simple wipe with a paper towel or scraping of a plate is enough to remove the residues.

Many people rinse the dishes with a sink tap running at full to remove the residues. It may result in cleaner dishes, but it will also result in excessive water usage. You may end up wasting up to 10 gallons of water in 5 minutes. Furthermore, your dishwasher’s sensor will be tricked into believing that the dishes are clean enough and will not wash them properly.

Dishwasher Cleanup: Yes. You heard us right. Dishwasher cleaning is very important for reducing water usage in your dishwasher. A clean machine will not waste water compared to a dirty dishwasher. Moreover, a dirty dishwasher is home for bacteria and germs as well. The best way to clean your dishwasher is to use vinegar and baking soda. (Link article: How to Clean Dishwasher with Vinegar and Baking Soda). 

Dirty Dishes: Many homeowners just select the longest cycle to get the best results from their dishwasher. This isn’t the right way to go. You must only select a deep clean or tough wash cycle when dealing with extremely soiled dishes. Long cycles mean more water usage and wastage.

Half Load: One must not run the dishwasher with half load. What’s the point of having a dishwasher if you will use it 3-4 times a day? Let your dishes gather, and then load them in your dishwasher and run a full load. You will be saving time, water, and electricity by doing this.

Plumbing and Water Temperature: The incoming water pressure in your dishwasher will also impact water consumption. Optimum water pressure will lead to powerful water sprays in the dishwasher, and it will take less time to clean your dishes. Moreover, if the water temperature is not set to the optimum temperature range listed in the user manual, the dishwasher will take more time for cleaning that will result in water wastage.

Water Chemistry: The chemical nature of water also affects water usage. Hard water is rich in minerals like calcium and magnesium. Hard water takes a lot of time to make lather with the detergent. If you have hard water at home, use a hard-water-specific detergent in your dishwasher.

Too much soft water makes lather quickly, but it can result in sudsing. Your dishwasher may use more water while clearing the soap from your dishes. One way to avoid sudsing is to use half amount of detergent in soft water.

Detergent: We recommend using high-quality detergents in your dishwasher. It is best to go through user reviews before selecting the detergent and buy one recommended by the manufacturer.

How to Reduce Dishwasher Water Usage

We have already discussed the factors that affect water usage. You can reduce your dishwasher’s water by controlling the above-mentioned factors. However, a quick recap is given below.

  • Switch to an Energy Star certified dishwasher
  • Never run a half-empty dishwasher
  • Use water-efficient wash cycles
  • Avoid pre-rinsing
  • Clean your dishwasher monthly

Water Usage: Dishwasher vs. Hand Washing

Water Usage Dishwasher vs. Hand Washing

Dishwashers are a better, energy-efficient, and user-friendly choice for washing your dishes. Yes, they are expensive, but the long-term benefits outnumber the initial investment. A full load that consumes around 3-4 gallons of water in an Energy Star certified dishwasher can use up to 25-30 gallons of water in the sink.

A dishwasher works by filling water in the tub, heating it, and then spraying the water on the dishes. It results in removing the food particles with powerful water sprays. The soiled water goes at the bottom of the dishwasher, where it is filtered and then sent back to clean the dishes.

How to Hand Wash Dishes and Save Water

If you don’t have a dishwasher yet, you’ll have to do the dishes by hand. The best way to do this is to use two big bowls for washing dishes. Add hot water in one bowl and cold in another. Place all your dishes in the hot water bowl and let them sit for 20-30 minutes.

It will remove all the stuck particles. Now apply dishwashing soap on a sponge and scrub the dishes one by one and place them in a cold water bowl as you carry on scrubbing. Once you are done, wipe the dishes with a clean cloth. This will give you spotless dishes with hand while using minimum water.

Final Words

Saving water is our responsibility. It is a way of giving back to our mother earth. One should always try to use appliances that save water. You don’t know that someone somewhere in the world may die due to the gallons of water you waste daily.

Using a dishwasher in the right way, as discussed above, is a great way to save water.


  • Stephen Powers

    Appliance repair guy from Washington. I am majorly experienced in dishwashers, water filters and refrigerators, AMA on my twitter account.

Leave a Comment