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How Much Water Do Dishwashers Use

Dishwashers are one of the most popular appliances in South African homes, but many people don't know how much water they use per load. The misconception is that dishwashers use a ton of water, but this isn't always the case. Depending on the model and settings you use, your dishwasher could be using less water than you think.


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How Much Water Do Dishwashers Use

If you’re wondering how much water a dishwasher uses, then carry on reading. Our guide will show you how to save water when washing dishes by hand or with a dishwasher. You'll learn about different ways to conserve water and some simple tips that can save you time and money.

How Much Water Does the Average Dishwasher Use Per Load?

The average dishwasher water usage for a standard-sized dishwasher is around 15 litres per load. There are a few factors that can influence this, either making it more or less. These factors include:

Is the machine old or new?

Older models and makes are much heavier on water usage than newer, more economical models. Modern designs have improved the efficiency of dishwashers, enabling them to use less water and still clean your dishes well. If you can, get a dishwasher that has an energy efficiency rating as those are manufactured to be as water-saving as possible.

Do you have a large, standard, or compact-sized machine?

Industrial dishwashers are much larger than standard-sized machines used in most homes and therefore use much more water. If you have a family of four or more, you most likely have a standard-sized machine at home. If you live alone, or with two people or less, it might be worth investing in a compact-sized dishwasher that can take the water usage per load down to around 13 litres or less.

What cycle are you using?

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Most dishwasher brands have a range of cycles to choose from – similar to a washing machine. The longer and hotter the cycle you choose, the more water will be used. If your machine offers an eco-cycle or short cycle, this is the option to choose in order to use the least amount of water.

What’s The Difference Between Dishwasher vs Hand Washing Water Usage?

The common thought out there is that hand washing saves water, but studies have shown that this is not always the case in many households. Here’s why:

  • If you wait to fill your dishwasher to max capacity before putting it on, you are in fact saving water and electricity because you are only using it once or twice a day. Whereas, if you have to wash the same number of dishes in a day, you would end up needing several sinks full of water and more electricity to heat that water.

  • A study showed that over a 10-year period the carbon footprint of hand washing 32 sets of dishes per week was more than putting them into a dishwasher and running it once a day. This was because it took more energy (or electricity) and more water to heat the water for the hand-washing process than it took to run one load in the dishwasher.

The best way to get the best out of both worlds and to save the most amount of water and electricity is to find a happy balance between using a dishwasher and hand washing.

Tips For Saving Water When Using A Dishwasher

Here’s how you can use your dishwasher without guilt and combine it with hand washing when you need to, in order to lower your water usage and be more energy-efficient and eco-friendly in your home:

Dishwasher Tips:

  • Don’t rinse your dishes first. Scrape the plates as clean as possible and stack them in.

  • If your machine offers a pre-rinse cycle, don’t use it. Simply put it on the shortest cycle or eco-cycle and push start.

  • If you can, consider using graywater you might be collecting for your dishwasher.

  • Never put half a load of dishes on. Only use your dishwasher when it is completely full.

  • Put everything you can in the dishwasher and run it once a day if possible. Hand wash bigger items like pots and pans if you need to.

Hand Washing Tips

  • While you’re washing, never leave the tap running to rinse the dishes. This is a huge water waste.

  • If you have two sinks, fill one with warm, soapy water for cleaning and one with warm water for rinsing.

For more household cleaning tips and tricks, visit Cleanipedia today.


How much water does the average dishwasher use per load?

An average, standard-sized dishwasher uses around 15 litres of water per load.

Is it more economical to use a dishwasher?

Studies have shown that if you use a dishwasher consciously, it can save you more water and energy in the long run.

How much water does a 1-hour dishwasher cycle use?

The longer the cycle you choose the more water it will use. Always select the shortest or eco-cycle on your machine to use the least water.

Does the dishwasher use a lot of water?

This is a misconception and is not always the case. Read the article above to find out more.

What uses less water dishwasher or washing by hand?

Studies show that hand washing can use more water and energy over time than a dishwasher does. Read our article above to learn more.

Originally published