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Best Ways to Use a Dishwasher

5 Ways to Use Your Dishwasher More Efficiently

If you're not using your dishwasher efficiently, you're wasting money, energy, and water. Business Insider shares the right ways for you to use the dishwasher.

In leaner times, plenty of households boycotted energy-sucking appliances like dishwashers and went back to basics: manual scrubbers, a bottle of detergent, and a lot of elbow grease.

But is all that extra effort really helping us save in the long run?

In short, the answer is no.

That theory might have held water a few mini industrial revolutions ago, but technology has simply become so advanced that what was once considered a costly convenience has become vastly more affordable.


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In fact, research has shown hand-washing uses as much as 27 gallons of water and 2.5 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy, compared with just four gallons of water and 1.5 kWh used by a hyperefficient dishwasher.

The key word, of course, is "hyperefficient." Upgrading your home appliances to any of today's energy-efficient models could be one of the wisest ways to cut back on utility bills, especially for larger households. According to the EPA, choosing an Energy Star-rated dishwasher could shave as much as $40 off your utility bills and save 5,000 gallons of water.

Here's how to use your dishwasher right:

Never run a partial load. Fill that sucker to the max and only use those "intense" cycle settings if you really need them. They'll use far more energy and water than the normal settings.

Shop for soap wisely. Dishwasher detergents can contain harmful phosphates — chemicals that seep into the water system and hurt aquatic life after they've made their rounds in wastewater treatment plants. Search for phosphate-free brands (they shouldn't be hard to find, as many states have banned them from detergents anyway).

Read on for more.

Test your water. "Hard water" can really do a number on your dishwasher and your detergent's efficiency. Consumer Reports has a great guide on what you need to know about water softeners.

Don’t prerinse. Moms everywhere are probably balking at this, but if your dishwasher's modern enough, the chances are high that it can handle that bit of gunk. "Scraping the plate clean right after eating instead can save up to 20 gallons of water per load," says Money Talks News' Brandon Ballenger.

Air-dry. Here's a great tip on cutting energy costs even further — open the door after the cycle's finished and let the dishes air-dry right in the rack.

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