One Wasteful Dishwasher Cycle You Shouldn’t Use, If You Want to Save Money

published Jun 25, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Did you know that your dishwasher’s wash cycle usually saves water, compared to hand washing? It turns out that what actually makes your dishwasher inefficient (and potentially damaging to your dishes) is the heated drying cycle. That’s why so many experts recommend that you skip the heated drying cycle altogether. Let’s take a deeper look.

How Your Dishwasher’s Heated Drying Cycle Works

The heated drying cycle blasts hot air through your dishwasher in order to remove moisture from your dishes. This works to quickly dry your dishes so you don’t have to wipe things by hand. (If you’re counting on heat to sanitize your dishes, you should know it’s hot water that does the work during your dishwasher’s sanitizing cycle.)

In theory, that seems like… maybe a good thing? But there’s a trade-off: Running the heated drying cycle means more time (usually around 30 minutes), more energy, and more money on your utility bill. Running this cycle can also wear down your dishwasher over time because the appliance has to work hard to pump all that hot air through the exhaust vents.

What You Should Do Instead

Heat might seem like the best way to make sure your dishes are dry, but there are other (better) ways to accomplish the same thing.

Instead of using heat, choose the air dry option. Most new dishwashers have this option and it works the same way, only without the heated air. Your dishes will be just as clean and dry without the hot air—and some estimates find that the heated drying cycle uses at least 15 percent more energy than air-drying. 

Another option: You can also try a rinse aid and crack the dishwasher open when your load is done washing, which will allow outside heat to work its way inside the dishwasher.

And if you’re in the market for a new dishwasher, opt for an Energy Star model, which comes with specific cycle settings meant to save on energy and water.

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: Why You Shouldn’t Run Your Dishwasher’s Heated Drying Cycle