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How much does it cost to run a dishwasher?

With the cost of living crisis and high energy prices forcing many to tighten their purse strings, we take a look at how much this popular household appliance will add to your bills.

By Natasha Gregson | Last updated Apr 4, 2023

Front of dishwasher

If you're running a family home, the chances are your trusty dishwasher is a daily essential you just couldn't be without. Saving you precious effort spent hand washing at the sink, the best dishwasher can shave a great deal of time off everyday household chores, something busy parents will certainly appreciate.

When buying a kitchen appliance like a dishwasher or a fridge freezer, your first concern will likely be the initial expense your family will be hit with - white goods will set you back hundreds, after all. However, given that most of us are looking to cut down on costs to tackle the ongoing cost of living crisis, it's also important to consider how much it will actually cost you to use it.

To help you understand running costs more, we've done a deep dive into the wonderful world of full-sized and slimline dishwashers to see how much they actually cost in the long run, plus we have some handy tips on how to use yours more efficiently.

How much am I paying to run my dishwasher?

First up, consider your energy rating - this will be a letter that is usually displayed on retailer websites. Dishwashers with higher energy ratings will likely be more pricey upfront, but they can save you money in the long run by cutting down on electricity and water use. Energy efficiency is now graded between A - G, with A being the highest rating. It's hard for all appliances, including regular freezers and chest freezers, to be awarded this though, and you'll find most dishwashers come in somewhere between C and F. 

Woman budgeting

Next, think about your energy rates. You can usually find how much you're paying per kWh from your bill (or contact your energy provider if you're unsure how to go about this). What you really need to focus on is the estimated amount of energy your dishwasher uses per cycle (typically this is between 1.2kWh and 1.5kWh per load).

The Energy Price Guarantee, which limits how much energy providers can charge per kWh of energy used, has recently been extended, so you will continue to pay a maximum of 34p per kWh used (plus any daily standing charges). So, taking this into account:

  • A dishwasher that uses 0.9kWh per load will cost around 31p per cycle 
  • A dishwasher that uses 1.2kWh per load will cost around 41p per cycle 
  • A dishwasher that uses 1.5kWh per load will cost around 51 per cycle
  • A dishwasher that uses 2kWh per load will cost around 68p per cycle

Remember though, these are only estimates - the price you pay for energy, the time you use your dishwasher, the cycle you put it on, and how long you use it for will all have an impact on the running cost.

There's also water costs to factor in too, but these tend to be minimal - around an average of 3p per cycle.

Don't forget to factor in the cost of detergent too - the best dishwasher tablets are definitely worth investing in for sparkling clean pots and pats. Many Mumsnet users buy their detergent in bulk, especially during sales events like Prime Day or Black Friday, saving money in the long run. 

Related: The best oven cleaner and glass cleaner, as recommended by Mumsnet users

Is it cheaper to wash by hand?

Woman hand washing pots

Ultimately, it depends. But surprisingly, a dishwasher can actually be more efficient than washing by hand if you're smart about how you use it (for example, only putting it on for a full load), according to Compare the Market.

They claim that "a single dishwasher cycle costs the same in energy and water as turning the hot water tap on for six to nine minutes." So if you're someone who leaves the tap running when you hand wash, using the dishwasher might actually work out better. 

Parents will know all too well that using a dishwasher takes way less effort and time day-to-day than hand washing too, something to bear in mind before you get out your best tea towels and dish rack.

Related: Discover the best American fridge freezer for the ultimate kitchen wow factor

How can I save money using the dishwasher?

1. Make use of the eco cycle if you have time

Most dishwashers have an eco or energy-saving mode, which uses less water and electricity than other cycles - just be aware that these cycles may take longer to finish.

2. Don't put the dishwasher on if its not full

It may seem obvious, but running the dishwasher when there's only a few pots and pans in there is wasteful, so try to wait until it's full before running a cycle unless you're lucky enough to have a half-load setting on your dishwasher. 

Related: The best vacuum sealer for keeping food fresher for longer

3. Don't pre-rinse unless you need to

Don't waste unnecessary time, effort and water standing over the sink, rinsing plates before you slot them in the dishwasher. Unless the dishes are particularly grimy and clogged with food, you can skip this step and just let the dishwasher do its job. Just make sure you scrape any leftovers into the kitchen bin before popping your pots in the dishwasher.

4. Clean the dishwasher regularly

Clean the dishwasher regularly with the best cleaning products; this helps to keep it running efficiently and helps to avoid damage and repair costs. Regularly remove any food debris, wipe down the door and interior, and run a cleaning cycle with vinegar or dishwasher cleaner monthly. See our guide to how to clean a dishwasher for more thorough information on giving it a deep clean. 

Read next: The best mini fridge for compact cooling