Dishwasher eco mode: How it works

Your dishwasher’s eco mode explained.

Running eco mode on dishwasher.

Most dishwashers have an economical (eco) mode that saves water and energy, but it could mean you’re left with wet dishes.

How eco mode works

The different wash cycles on your dishwasher are just different combinations of heat, water and time. The hotter the dishwasher cycle is, the better the washing and drying performance, but this can translate to higher energy consumption. Eco mode uses less energy and water, but there are drawbacks.

Clean dishes in dishwasher after washing in eco mode.
To maximise energy savings, check your electricity plan to see if there’s a low-tariff or off-peak time during which to run your dishwasher.

Benefits

  • Saves energy by reducing temperature.
  • Conserves water used.

Downsides

  • Longer wash time.
  • Lower temperature means dishes can take longer to dry.
  • Eco mode might mean you get a less intense clean – but unless you’re washing grease-covered pots and pans, you’re unlikely to be left with dirty dishes.

How to get the most out of eco mode

Have patience ‒ washing dishes on eco mode will take longer.

To maximise energy savings, check your electricity plan to see if there’s a low-tariff or off-peak time during which to run your dishwasher.

Scrape food off heavily soiled dishes, pots and pans, but there’s no need to rinse them – the detergent and dishwasher will do the hard work for you.

Help dishes dry faster by:

  • using rinse-aid
  • opening the door once finished to let steam out
  • removing plastics and letting them dry on the bench (plastics cool quicker than dishes and pots, meaning moisture on their surface is slower to evaporate)
  • choosing a model with internal fans (check these run in eco mode) or automatic opening doors.

Eco vs auto-sensing

An alternative to using eco mode that most dishwashers have is the auto-sensing cycle. The level of dirtiness is measured by analysing how dirty the water is. The dishwasher then adjusts cycle time, water used and temperature.

Good auto-sensing models reduce cycle time, energy and water use for cleaner loads. Some dishwashers, such as the AEG FFE83800PM and Bosch SMU66MS02A Serie 6, shine at this task, while others, like the Fisher & Paykel DW60FC4W1, actually use more water, time and energy when auto-sensing.

Looking for the best dishwasher? See our buying guide for how to choose the right model, or check out our test results to find out which models we recommend.

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