How Much Water Does A Dishwasher Use [601 Models Studied]

How much water does a dishwasher use? Find out here, based on 601 models. See dishwasher water usage by cycle, month and year, and see which dishwasher uses the least amount of water, and more.

Based on 601 dishwashers, below you’ll find how much water dishwashers use, which dishwasher uses the least amount of water, and how hand washing water usage compares.

Spoilers:

  • Modern dishwashers use 3.22 gallons of water per cycle on average, while old models can use over 16 gallons.
  • The most common dishwasher water usage is 3.5 gallons per cycle.
  • Dishwasher cycles impact water usage – you can expect a Rinse cycle to use approx. 1.1 gallons of water, while 7.37 gallons can be used on a Heavy cycle.
  • Hand washing uses more water than modern dishwashers, on average.
  • Dishwashers can account for 4% – 20% of your daily water usage.
  • One stand out, Standard sized, low water usage dishwasher is the Blomberg – DWT 81800, get more details, including the price, on Amazon here

Continue reading to see exactly which dishwasher uses the least amount of water and which brand makes the most water efficient dishwashers.

You’ll also find more detailed answers to:

  • How much water does a dishwasher use?; and
  • Do dishwashers use a lot of water?
How Much Water Does A Dishwasher Use image of a dishwasher with text

How much water a dishwasher uses

How much water a dishwasher uses depends on many factors including size (e.g. Compact or Standard), cycle type and efficiency.

Old inefficient dishwashers can use up to 16 gallons of water per cycle, while modern efficient dishwashers use 3.22 gallons on average.

Modern dishwashers are much more efficient than older models as they use more efficient jets, rack designs and have many other water saving features.

ENERGY STAR certified dishwashers use 1.64 gallons to 3.5 gallons of water per cycle.

Given their performance, and the increasingly energy conscious consumer, ENERGY STAR certified dishwashers are becoming the standard on the market.

For this reason, in order to more accurately assess today’s dishwasher water usage, I’ll only focus on ENERGY STAR certified dishwashers in this article.

So, let’s take a look at how much water these dishwashers use in more detail.

Related post: How much does it cost to run a dishwasher?

How much water does a dishwasher use per cycle 

Modern dishwashers use 3.22 gallons of water per cycle, on average.

Overall, dishwasher water use ranges from 1.64 gallons to 3.5 gallons per cycle.

The most common dishwasher water usage is 3.5 gallons per cycle.

The table below summarizes how much water, in gallons and liters, dishwashers use per cycle.

Water usage categoryWater use per cycle in gallonsWater use per cycle in liters
Average3.2212.17
Most common3.513.25
Highest3.513.25
Lowest1.646.21

How much water a dishwasher uses increases the more it’s used. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR assumes 215 dishwasher cycles per year when estimating dishwasher power consumption. So let’s follow suit to work out dishwasher water usage per month and year.

How much water a dishwasher uses per month

On average, dishwashers use 57.6 gallons of water per month.

The most common water usage per month by dishwashers is 62.71 gallons.

Dishwasher water usage ranges from 29.38 gallons to 62.71 gallons per month.

The table below shows how much water dishwashers use per month, in gallons and liters, splitting results into various usage categories.

Water usage categoryWater use per month in gallonsWater use per month in liters
Average57.6218.05
Most common62.71237.38
Highest62.71237.38
Lowest29.38111.23

This assumes 215 dishwasher cycles per year, which is close to 18 cycles per month.

How much water does a dishwasher use per year

Per year, dishwashers use 691.24 gallons of water on average.

Overall, dishwashers use between 352.6 and 752.5 gallons of water annually.

The most common yearly dishwasher water usage is 752.5 gallons.

To summarize, and to include water usage in liters, the table below shows how much water dishwashers use per year.

Water usage categoryWater use per year in gallonsWater use per year in liters
Average691.22,616.64
Most common752.52,848.52
Highest752.52,848.52
Lowest352.61,334.74

Again, this assumes 215 cycles per year.

The figures above are based on standardized testing completed to achieve ENERGY STAR certification. To achieve this certification, dishwashers must use less than or equal to 3.5 gallons of water per cycle. Compact dishwashers must use less than or equal to 3.1 gallons per cycle. Certain load capacities must also be reached. More information is available from energystar.gov, which is the primary source of dishwasher water usage data that has been compiled for this article.

Dishwasher water use by cycle

Dishwashers use 3.22 gallons of water per cycle, on average. This can drop to a low of 1.1 gallons on the Rinse Only cycle to a high of 7.37 gallons on the Heavy cycle.

The Normal cycle can use between 81.58% and 189.47% (i.e. 2.63 to 6.1 gallons) of the dishwasher’s listed water usage.

Auto cycles can use 128.95% to 221% of the listed water usage, which works out to 4.15 – 7.12 gallons.

So, dishwasher water use is highly dependent on the cycle type.

The below goes into more detail about this. If you’re not interested in how these figures were worked out, skip to the next section which puts dishwasher water use into perspective.

Dishwasher water use varies, not only by dishwasher, but also by cycle type and cycle stage.

Modern dishwashers have various cycle types, such as Heavy, Express, Rinse, Delicate and Normal. An Auto cycle type is becoming increasingly common.

Each of these cycle types use a different amount of water. Express and Rinse cycle types will use less water than Delicate, Normal and Auto. The Heavy cycle type uses the most amount of water.

The water amount used by each cycle type varies because each cycle goes through different washing stages, such as Pre-wash, Main wash and Rinse. 

Each of these stages uses different amounts of water and they can run numeros times, depending on the cycle type.

The Rinse cycle type uses the least amount of water because it goes through the fewest stages – just 1 Rinse stage.

The Heavy cycle type uses the most amount of water because it goes through all washing stages, usually more than once.

Let’s demonstrate this with an example (using the same model used to give a breakdown of how many watts each key dishwasher component uses).

Dishwasher Water Use Example image of how much water different dishwasher cycles use

This image shows the manufacturer provided cycle chart for the Samsung DW80K5050 Series dishwasher.

As you can see, dishwasher water use depends on the cycle type due to the various cycle stages.

Rinse goes through the least amount of cycle stages, followed by Express, which goes through 3 stages that use water.

Many other factors can impact dishwasher water use, such as the temperature and pressure of the water supply. 

However, let’s use the above example to get a percentage estimate of dishwasher water use by cycle type.

One key thing to note is that the manufacturer’s listed water usage is not likely to line up with water usage listed by ENERGY STAR. This is because different testing has been done. Manufacturers simply test a specific cycle and identify its water use, while ENERGY STAR test procedures include several test cycles (see test methods on energystar.gov, here, and the DOE test method definition in 10 CFR 430, Subpart B, Appendix C, here). 

In saying that, it looks like the water usage of the Express cycle type lines up best (3.8 gallons vs 3.5 gallons from ENERGY STAR tests), so let’s use this as the baseline.

The table below estimates how much water dishwashers use compared to the water usage listed on the device.

Cycle typeWater use (as a % of gallons listed)
Heavy228.95%
Auto128.95% – 221.05%
Normal81.58% – 189.47%
Delicate131.58%
Express100%
Rinse only34.21%

As you can see, Heavy and Auto cycles can use over double the amount of the listed water usage.

The water use during the Normal cycle type can range significantly, depending on stages used (these can be programmed manually by users in many cases). As a result, this cycle can use under or over the listed water usage.

The Delicate cycle uses a surprising amount of water – I didn’t expect this to use more than the Express cycle.

As expected, the Rinse cycle uses the least amount of water.

For context, the table below takes the average dishwasher water usage figure of 3.22 gallons and shows the estimated water consumption by cycle.

Cycle typeEstimated water use based on the 3.22 gallon average
Heavy7.37 gallons
Auto4.15 – 7.12 gallons
Normal2.63 – 6.10 gallons
Delicate4.24 gallons
Express3.22 gallons
Rinse Only1.1 gallons

OK, now we know how much water a dishwasher uses by cycle. But is it a lot?

Do dishwashers use a lot of water 

No. Modern dishwashers do not use a lot of water. However, old dishwashers do use a lot of water – nearly 5 times more than modern dishwashers.

Also, if you’re not careful even modern dishwashers can use a lot of water. If you don’t fully load your dishwasher, you’ll need to run it more often.

According to epa.gov, one dishwasher load per week can be eliminated if you fully load your dishwasher every time you use it.

This can save the average family close to 320 gallons of water per year.

To help answer the qusetion, “Do dishwashers use a lot of water?”, let’s add some perspective by comparing dishwasher water usage with the amount of water other common household appliances use.

1 dishwasher cycle, which uses 3.22 gallons of water, is equivalent to:

  • 1 toilet flush (or half a flush if you have a modern toilet).
  • 7.8 loads of laundry (or 12.4 if you use an old clothes washer).
  • Running a newer kitchen faucet for roughly 1.5 to 2.5 minutes.

These figures are based on water consumption data available on water.usgs.gov.

To add some more perspective, epa.gov (referencing usgs.gov) notes that 82 gallons of water is used every day by each American at home, on average.

With modern dishwashers using an average of 3.22 gallons of water per cycle, dishwashers can account for nearly 4% of your daily water usage.

If you have an older, less efficient dishwasher, you can expect it to account for nearly 20% of your daily water usage.

Ultimately, modern dishwashers do not use a lot of water if you use them effectively, while older models can use quite a lot.

But how do dishwashers compare with hand washing?

How much water does a dishwasher use vs hand washing 

Modern dishwashers use 1.64 – 3.5 gallons of water per cycle, while hand washing uses 9 – 27 gallons.

Modern dishwashers can save a lot of water than hand washing.

However, older dishwashers can use over 16 gallons of water per cycle. This makes the water savings less likely.

Related: see the FAQ, “Dishwasher vs hand washing water cost“.

On average, modern dishwashers use 3.22 gallons of water per cycle, which is equivalent to running a newer kitchen faucet for roughly 1.5 to 2.5 minutes.

If you can’t hand wash dishes within this time period (I know I can’t), then a modern dishwasher is a more efficient option in terms of water usage.

There are ways that you can make your hand washing more efficient. For example, install an aerator on your faucet, scrape food off the plate before washing, fill the basin and don’t let water run continuously.

You might also be thinking that you’ll save on electricity too. However, it’s not as much as you might think.

Dishwashers are surprisingly efficient when it comes to electricity. This is because, regardless of how you wash them, most electricity is required to heat water when washing dishes

I go into more detail about dishwasher energy efficiency, here. I’ll use the same infographic again as it’s relevant in this post too. Also, just to highlight, the sources of data used in this section are: usgs.gov, energystar.gov.

The following infographic compares dishwasher water usage with hand washing water usage. Water costs are in orange and energy costs are in white.

Dishwasher energy efficiency inforgraphic by ENERGY STAR
Source: energystar.gov

As you can see, dishwashers are more efficient in terms of both energy and water usage.

However, the range of water usage by modern dishwashers is actually quite significant – ranging from 1.64 gallons 3.5 gallons per cycle.

With this in mind, let’s compare dishwasher water usage by brand.

Dishwasher water usage comparison

The table below summarizes the dishwasher water usage of 601 of the most efficient dishwashers on the market.

The data shown is the average amount of water usage per cycle that each manufacturer’s / brand’s ENERGY STAR certified dishwashers uses. The data is arranged from lowest to highest water usage (liters are also included for convenience).

Dishwasher brandWater use per cycle in gallons (average)Water use per cycle in liters (average)
DCS by Fisher & Paykel2.469.31
Fisher & Paykel2.509.48
Beko2.519.48
VIKING2.559.65
Electrolux2.6510.03
Summit Professional2.6610.07
Blomberg2.7010.21
Signature Kitchen Suite2.7710.47
LG2.8710.85
LG SIGNATURE2.9010.98
Smeg2.9311.07
FULGOR MILANO2.9411.14
Cove2.9811.28
Edgestar3.1011.73
FARBERWARE3.1011.73
Magic Chef3.1011.73
Sunbeam3.1011.73
Whynter3.1011.73
Amana3.1411.87
Avanti3.1511.92
Gaggenau3.1712.01
Dacor3.2012.11
hOme3.2012.11
Kenmore3.2012.12
Midea3.2212.18
Miele3.2312.23
Bosch3.2312.23
Comfee3.2312.24
Danby3.2412.25
Asko3.3012.49
LYCAN3.3012.49
ZLINE Kitchen and Bath3.3012.49
Crosley3.3212.56
KitchenAid3.3212.59
Summit3.3312.60
Essentiell3.3312.61
Whirlpool3.3312.61
SPT3.3512.67
Inter-IKEA Systems B.V.3.3612.73
Zline3.3712.74
Equator3.4012.87
FINLUX3.4012.87
Porter & Charles3.4012.87
Galanz3.4112.92
Frigidaire3.4212.93
Samsung3.4513.07
Maytag3.4813.16
GE3.4913.21
Almison3.5013.25
Bertazzoni3.5013.25
BREDA3.5013.25
Cafe3.5013.25
FORTE3.5013.25
FORZA3.5013.25
GE Adora3.5013.25
GE Profile3.5013.25
Gorenje3.5013.25
Haier3.5013.25
Hisense3.5013.25
Hotpoint3.5013.25
Ikea3.5013.25
Insignia3.5013.25
Jenn Air3.5013.25
Lagan3.5013.25
Moffat3.5013.25
Monogram3.5013.25
Panasonic3.5013.25
RCA3.5013.25
Sharp3.5013.25
Thermador3.5013.25
Thor Group3.5013.25
Verona3.5013.25
Walsh3.5013.25
Willz3.5013.25
Overall Average3.22 gallons12.17 liters

Fisher & Paykel dishwashers use the least amount of water per cycle, on average, at 2.5 gallons or less. 

A key factor for this is that they offer a range of Compact dishwashers. 

To get ENERGY STAR certification, Compact dishwashers must use less than or equal to 3.1 gallons of water per cycle. This is .4 gallons less than Standard dishwashers.

Beko and VIKING dishwashers follow closely behind Fisher & Paykel. But Beko and VIKING dishwashers are Standard size.

At 3.22 gallons (12.17 liters), Midea dishwashers use the average amount of water per cycle.

Most dishwasher brands use 3.5 gallons of water on average per load. 

3.5 gallons is the maximum amount of water that a dishwasher can use if it’s to achieve ENERGY STAR certification.

But which dishwasher uses the least amount of water?

Dishwasher that uses the least amount of water

At 1.64 gallons per cycle, the Fisher & Paykel 81223, 81221, 81220 and 71327 use the least amount of water.

These are Compact dishwashers that are designed to be integrated into kitchen cabinetry.

Visit fisherpaykel.com for more details – a direct link to an example (the 81223 model) on their site is here.

But what Standard size dishwasher uses the least amount of water?

The Standard dishwasher that uses the least amount of water, 1.95 gallons per cycle, is the KitchenAid – KDTE554C***.

Unfortunately, this model has been discontinued, according to compactappliance.com.

At 2.36 gallons per cycle, there’s quite a leap to the next most efficient dishwasher in terms of water usage. However, there are a lot more options.

Beko and VIKING have several dishwashers that use 2.36 gallons per cycle. 

But one dishwasher of note is the Blomberg – DWT 81800 ****. 

This dishwasher stands out for its low water usage and also low power consumption, making the shortlist of the most energy efficient dishwashers in a previous post.

Get more details about this efficient dishwasher, including the price, on Amazon here. 

An honorable mention has to go to Amazon’s #1 Best Seller in Built-In Dishwashers, which is the EdgeStar BIDW1802SS.

With lower than average water usage, 3.1 gallons per cycle, this dishwasher stands out in terms of energy efficiency, price, style and reliability.

Be sure to check it out on Amazon, here.

OK, now we know which dishwashers use the least amount of water. A lot of research was done to get to this point and I came across a lot of questions. So next, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

FAQs

The following are answers to questions / queries that popped up regularly when researching dishwasher water usage.

Final thoughts

Water conservation is an increasingly important topic.

Modern dishwashers use a lot less water compared to older models, and even when compared to hand washing.

Modern, efficient, ENERGY STAR certified dishwashers can save you 3,870 gallons of water over its lifetime, according to energystar.gov.

I hope that, by providing dishwasher water usage stats and by highlighting the models that use the least amount of water, this article helps you conserve water.

If you’re interested in knowing which dishwasher uses the least amount of electricity, check out this article: Dishwasher Wattage [601 Studied | Most Efficient Revealed].

Also, don’t miss: Cost To Run A Dishwasher Revealed [6 Valuable Cost Saving Tips].