Fill Dishwasher

Did you know you can save up to 5,000 gallons per year using your dishwasher when full and avoiding pre-rinsing?  Just follow a few basic steps and you are on your way to saving precious water resources and money!

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Annual Savings
$0 - $0
Upfront Cost
These are estimates

Energy and water savings

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kWh Electricity
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Therms Natural Gas
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Gallons Gas
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Gallons Water
  • Save precious water resources
  • Save money on water and energy
  • Save time!

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The Action
We will run our dishwasher full and avoid pre-rinsing where possible.
Is this action for me?
If you have a dishwasher, this action is for you!
When and Who?
This action can be done anytime by anyone.
How long will it take?
Quick - it actually will save you time!
What is the cost?
No cost - and extra savings!


  • Save precious water resources

  • Save money on water and energy

  • Save time!

The Basics

Running your dishwasher on full and avoiding pre-rinsing can save water, energy and time! Really, it's a win-win-win. Check out the tips below and start saving!


Use the dishwasher!
Run the dishwasher when full
Wash more than just the dishes
Avoid pre-rinsing
Share the info with others

Dishwashers win the award

In the great debate over which saves more water - hand washing or using a dishwasher, the dishwasher wins!  However, it is not just any dishwasher load that gets the prize.  In a study on water and energy use and dishwashing, the clear winner was very specifically a load of dishes washed in an Energy Star dishwasher with a full load that was not pre-rinsed.  This method used 3-5 gallons of water.

Efficient hand washing was second - specifically hand washing dishes where you have a basin filled with soapy water for washing and another basin filled with clean water for rinsing, no running the water while washing.  This also included having an aerator installed on the kitchen faucet.  This method used up to 8 gallons of water.  Using an older, regular dishwasher used up to 15 gallons and regular hand washing (with the water running) used up to 27 gallons.

Run on full

Dishwashers can save a household up to 5,000 gallons of water per year as opposed to manually washing up.  Better yet, they also save a lot of time. To get the most out of dishwashers, and save as much time, water, and energy as possible, fill dishwashers to their full capacity before pressing start. Whether your dishwasher is new or old, running it full is the best way to save water.

There are also a number of non-kitchen related items that you can throw in the dishwasher and save water on hand washing - children’s toys, root vegetables, or even sunglasses. Read a more extensive list of things you didn’t know you go in the dishwasher here.   

Avoid pre-rinsing

Modern dishwashers have sensors that “measure” how dirty the dishes are before washing and adjust settings accordingly.  If you don't have this feaure, you also might have a manual setting that allows you to adjust the amount of cleaning.  Dishwashers with this adjustment can generally take dishes that have not been rinsed.

Rinsing the dishes ahead of time can use from 2-5 gallons per minute!  Check your instruction manual to see if this feature is included on your dishwasher.  Scrape food off plates and utensils before loading into the dishwasher.  If you must rinse your dishes before washing, use cold water instead of hot.

Share the info

Dishwashing is often a family affair with everyone in the household pitching in.  Share the info on the most efficient way to use your dishwasher with others in your household.  Put a note on the dishwasher or fridge with tips to remind everyone!

Upgrade Dishwasher

If your current dishwasher is relatively new, you can make the most out of it by following some of the tips mentioned above.  However, if your dishwasher is over 10 years old and particularly if it is pre 1994, replacing it can save significantly on both water and energy.