Is it Cheaper to Wash Dishes or Use Dishwasher? [Resolved]

Last Updated on April 4, 2022 by

Is it cheaper to wash dishes or use dishwasher? You would think that handwashing is more efficient compared to a dishwasher that relies on electricity. Well, handwashing is more complex than you think, a dishwasher could be better.

A dishwasher is cheaper to use on only full loads. It uses substantially less water to make dishes squeaky-cleaner and takes longer to wash than handwashing. Most modern dishwashers even use less power to heat the water. Your dishwasher should be an Energy-Star or use any other recognized certification.

Dishwashers (compact countertops, built-ins or portables) are now being built to be more efficient. As such, you get to spend less on bills. Moreover, you only have to scrape food scraps off dishes and watch your dishwasher automate the whole washing process.

Read also: speaking of washing, what machines can wash whites neatly?

Is it cheaper to wash dishes or use dishwasher?

Let’s take a comparative approach to this so that you have a better knowledge of how a dishwasher could be more water-efficient.

Water consumption

The potential of handwashing your dishes is huge water consumption. However, the dishwasher is more efficient and uses less water.

Handwashing is quite wasteful, at least compared to how thoughtfully modern dishwashers are built. For every handwashing load, you use up to 27 gallons of water.

However, an Energy Star certified dishwasher uses about 3 gallons per load. You merely have to scrape off the food remnants instead of pre-rinsing the dishes before loading them to save more water.

Read aslo: A hand mixer will not jist overheat but…

You also want to practice a decent dishwasher maintenance culture. Inspect and fix dishwasher broken parts, clogs, and other problems regularly to improve water economy.

Safe washing temperature

According to WHO (World Health Organization), water temperatures need to be up to date to kill bacteria and germs on dirty dishes. Thus, heated water protects your dishes from pathogens, ensuring a healthy household.

Unfortunately, handwashing with hot water will cause scalds. You need the water cold or warm at most, to clean dishes, which does not eliminate pathogens. Moreover, your hand will not withstand temperatures over 110°F, washing will be uncomfortable as well.

An average dishwasher, on the other hand, will comfortably use temperatures of about 130-140°F to clean dishes. Dishwashers are designed to use hot water to fully dissolve and activate detergents to dislodge hard food stains and grease.

Even though dishwashers are built for high water temperatures, certain temperature levels, coupled with lax maintenance, are bad for a dishwasher.

Water temperatures above 140°F can cause issues due to enzymes in the detergent dying too quickly, so your dishwasher fails to clean well enough.

Read our latest test!: What detergent a Bosch dishwasher really needs

Time consumption

Washing dishes by hand will take between 20 and 40 minutes for the average household eating 2-3 meals daily. Scraping foods off dirty dishes, pre-rinsing, washing, and drying combine to take even more time than you would expect to spend.

By the way, you want to thoroughly rinse or completely submerge dirty dishes in water for up to 1 minute to eliminate any harmful germs. This also adds to the washing time.

According to Whirlpool, however, a dishwasher will take 1.5 to 4 hours to clean your dishes, depending on the washing cycle or program you prefer to select.

Other dishwasher run time factors include sensor readings, the dirt on your dishes, and the water heating duration of the selected wash cycle.

You would exclaim that a dishwasher takes too long to wash. Here is something you need to know: an older dishwasher likely takes less time to wash dishes than modern dishwashers.

The reason is due to advances in technology and federal energy and water guidelines.

Dishwashers are now designed to use less water and energy than older models that tend to wash faster. A modern dishwasher needs to run longer to reach the performance level and allow sensors to determine if dishes are cleaned properly.

Environmental safety

Not all households use a dishwasher. However, whether you wash by hand or toss dishes in the dishwasher, you need to be aware of the better option.

Generally, washing dishes by hand is considered greener than using a dishwasher. However, with recent dishwashers and dishwasher detergents designed with eco-friendly materials, you can say dishwashing is still a better option.

If you care so much about your environment, buy a grease removing a dishwasher with eco settings. Modern dishwasher models are also designed to reduce CO2 emissions, and even maximize cleaning with less water.

Automation and convenience

Your dishwasher is a robot, so it automates cleaning and rinsing. It can also automate drying if you decide to enable the option after a wash cycle.

Washing by hand, on the other hand, is a manual process that denies the time you would focus on a different kitchen or out-of-kitchen activity.

With a dishwasher, you load the dishes, select a suitable wash cycle, and hit the start button. If your dishwasher uses a picture view design, you can watch the dishes get cleaned in real-time.

Regarding convenience, a feature like “delay start” delays the start of a wash cycle. The wash cycle time delay also depends on the dishwasher model. Depending on the dishwasher model, you can delay the start of your wash cycle/program up to 24 hours, in 1-hour increments.

The idea of automation is that while the dishwasher washes, you could focus your time on other productive activities.

Water heating energy

Somehow, the water cost extends to energy. Unlike hand washing, a dishwasher relies on heated water, which means energy is needed to heat to washing levels.

Dishwashers tend to have an environmental footprint – contributing to greenhouse gas emissions – including the manufacturing, shipping, installation, and washing processes.

They rely on natural gas for water heating but use about 1 kilowatt-hour of energy per load on average. Meanwhile, dishwasher not heating hot enough can cause a soapy dish taste.

Dishwashers typically use 1,800 watts on average, and the base electricity usage is not expensive. For a 1,800-watt dishwasher running an hour-long load, it takes an estimated 1.8 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity.

Although electricity is not required to wash by hand, 30 minutes of handwashing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen with moderate intensity eliminate “187 calories if you weigh 125 pounds and 300 calories if you weigh 200 pounds” in the words of WebMD.

Best energy efficient dishwasher

We have cut you the stress of searching for energy-efficient dishwashing that beats handwashing:

Danby 18 Inch Built in Dishwasher, 8 Place Settings, 6 Wash Cycles, and 4 Temperature + Sanitize Option, Energy Star Rated with Low Water Consumption and Quiet Operation – Stainless (DDW1804EBSS)

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Since this publication is about saving time, energy, and, of course, money, you need Danby DDW1804EBSS.


This is a built-in dishwasher that holds up to 8 place settings. It also uses one silverware basket.

Wash cycles

Danby DDW1804EBSS uses 6 wash cycles, including normal, heavy, eco, rapid, glass, and rinse. If you care about your immediate environment, select the eco wash to handle your dishes.

Regarding health, this dishwasher uses 4 hot water temperature options and a sanitize mode that heats between 69C/156F.

Noise level

This is not the quietest machine we have seen but at only 52db, it is quieter than the volume of a normal human conversation.

Follow these steps for a super quiet dishwasher.

Smart wash

Danby DDW1804EBSS comes with a unique smart wash feature that automatically detects and enables a wash cycle suitable for your dirty dishes.

This incites convenience, as well as takes away the stress of washing dishes with low-water consumption in mind.

What we like about Danby DDW1804EBSS

Stainless steel tub

Danby DDW1804EBSS is thoughtfully built with stainless steel tub, not plastic. We expect the interior to withstand years of daily washing.

Delay start

Speaking of convenience, the delay start option lets you schedule a preferred start time so your dishwasher commences washing without your interference.


Its electronic controls use a digital display, which improves how we select options by merely touching buttons.

Water consumption

We noticed that the level of water consumption depends on the wash cycle you select. The rinse cycle uses just 2 gallons, while others, including heavy (5.7 gallons), normal (2.8~5.7 gallons), eco (4.8 gallons), glass (4.8 gallons), and rapid (3.7 gallons)

What we don’t like

Does not arrive with all built-in tools

Instead of a complete set for the built-in installation, you only receive a drain hose and a base plate cover. We did not find an elbow or hot water hose, and no hose clamp for the drain.

Read alsosomething about your fridge dispenser you did not know

No garbage disposal

Instead of garbage disposal, this machine uses a filter screen that collects the remaining food debris from your dishes.

No water softener compartment

This dishwasher does not use a water softener compartment for those living in a hard water area.

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Tips to save cost washing dishes in your dishwasher

Your dishwasher can be cheaper to run if you do the following.

  • Run on full loads. Only run the dishwasher when it is fully loaded. Do not use the half-load settings to avoid wasting water.
  • No pre-rinsing. Instead of pre-rinsing, scrape the food remains of your dishes before tossing them into the dishwasher.
  • Use eco wash. When necessary, use the eco-setting or lower temperature. Not all dishwashers feature eco functionality.
  • Use heated dry sparingly. If your dishwasher comes with a heated dry option for drying dishes, use it sparingly to save energy bills and the environment. You can always air dry, although it takes longer. Towel drying is faster but use a clean towel. We also compiled a list of best dishwashers that use can air dry instead of heating.

The dishwasher you buy must be energy-efficient. As mentioned earlier, you want a dishwasher with an Energy Star rating or equivalent certification in your region.