How Often Should You Run Your Dishwasher? A Helpful Guide

Monday 8th November 2021
by Homeforce

Written On

Mon 8th November 2021

Written By




Share This

You may be wondering if it’s best to use your dishwasher every day, or just a few times a week. Just how often should you run your dishwater? What’s optimal for longevity? And does it use more or less water than hand washing?

​​A typical dishwasher has a lifespan of up to 10 years, But running more than five cycles a week may mean replacing it within seven years. Reducing running cycles down to five or less per week and with regular maintenance and cleaning means your dishwasher could last 12 years or longer.

Along with regular cleaning, it’s best to use your dishwasher regularly to maintain longevity and reduce water usage. While it can survive 2 or 3 weeks unused, if you leave it for more than 4 weeks you may need to call in a professional for repair and maintenance.

That’s the high-level overview, but let’s now take a deeper dive into the topic of dishwasher maintenance to answer other important questions.

Dishwasher Maintenance

Is it bad to run the dishwasher every day?

What happens if you run your dishwasher once every day for a few weeks, months or years? Will it damage the appliance over time? And is it a waste of water to overuse it?

Contrary to popular belief, dishwashers are actually more efficient with water than hand washing. So from an environmentalist point of view, you would do well to make use of your dishwasher regularly and save water.

According to P&G Home Care Senior Scientist Morgan Brashear,

“Cascade found that the average person uses four gallons of water every two minutes washing dishes at the sink, whereas Energy Star certified dishwashers use less than four gallons of water per cycle … That means you could save up to 100 gallons of water a week by running your dishwasher nightly instead of washing dishes by hand.”

However, running your dishwasher more than 5 times a week is known to reduce its longevity. So if you run a load in the dishwasher every day, you’ll need to replace the appliance perhaps 2 or 3 years sooner.

How many times a week should you run your dishwasher?

It’s hard to say exactly which approach is better for the planet in the long term. It’s up to you whether you’d prefer to save that extra bit of water each week or reduce demand for electrical components down the line.

Home dishwashers will typically survive approximately 10 years of regular domestic use. If you run yours 6 or more times per week then you are looking at 7 years or so instead.

If saving water is a priority, then it makes sense to use your home dishwasher every day of the week. On the other hand, if eeking out those additional 2 or 3 years in dishwasher life expectancy is your priority, then it’s best not to use it more than 5 times a week.

Another way to extend the lifetime of your dishwasher is to keep on top of proper cleaning and maintenance, which will be covered later on in this article.

Is it bad to not run your dishwasher?

OK, we’ve established that it’s fine to use your dishwasher most days if not every day, but what happens if you don’t use it so regularly? Like if you go on holiday for a week or two. Or you just opt for handwashing for a few days instead of using the dishwasher. Will anything go wrong with it while you’re gone?

Dishwashers benefit from regular use, and unfortunately, failure to do so can cause maintenance issues. As a rough guide, try to use the dishwasher at least once or twice a week to keep it in good working order.

If you do have an issue with your dishwasher, then the easiest fix is to give us a call.

How long you can leave your dishwasher for

With dishwashers, it’s a case of “use it or lose it”.

In short, you can leave your dishwasher unused for up to 3 or 4 weeks. Any longer than that and it will begin to develop problems with the motor, the pipes and could even break down.

If you leave your dishwasher switched off for a prolonged period, it’s best to leave the door ajar. 

Otherwise, you may eventually find an unpleasant odour forming inside. Make sure it’s just wide enough to allow air in and out, but not so wide open that someone might trip over it.

I haven’t used my dishwasher for a few weeks, what should I do?

If it’s only been a couple of weeks, there are some quick steps you can take yourself to make amends.

  • Pour liquid bleach into your machine and run a short (empty) cycle to remove bacteria that may have formed in that time.
  • You can also try adding a few teaspoons of mineral oil, which coats the surface of the water, preventing evaporation.

If your dishwasher has been left unused for more than 3 or 4 weeks, you should get in touch with a professional who will take care of repair and maintenance.

That way you have peace of mind knowing your dishwasher is in good hands and will continue to serve your household for years to come.

How to prepare your dishwasher for long term storage

If you know you’re going to be away for some time, or you need to put your dishwasher into long term storage, here are some important steps you should take first. It’s important to take these precautions in order to prevent breakdowns and make sure your machine is running smoothly …once you are reunited with it.

First of all, give the entire machine interior a deep cleanse. There are a few ways to go about this so find a good guide online and check your machine’s manual to avoid any surprises. Also, if the outside of it needs cleaning, now is a good time to do so.

Make sure to get into all the little nooks and crannies, removing any food debris and grime that may have accumulated.

Next, leave the dishwasher door open slightly for a few days to allow it to air dry. Disconnect the machine and drain the hoses, allowing them to air dry for a few hours as well. Once all components are dry, coil the hose up and stow it inside the unit ready to be stored long term.

If you need to move your dishwasher, if you’re moving house, for example, then take extra care when doing so as they can be particularly fragile appliances.

If you’re in any doubt as to whether your dishwasher is ready for storage or moving, it’s best to call in a professional to take care of everything.

Best practices for keeping your dishwasher running well

You can extend the lifetime of your dishwasher by cleaning it regularly with a special dishwasher detergent. On top of weekly wipe-downs, the interior should be cleaned more thoroughly once every few months.

The manual that came with your unit will have a section on cleaning and maintenance that will explain how to properly clean that particular appliance. If you no longer have your manual, you can search online for the brand and model code and download a PDF version of it.

It’s a good idea to regularly clean your dishwasher door seal with a damp cloth and a bit of washing up liquid to keep it clean and hygienic.

Finally, some warnings on what to avoid:

  • Never use bleach at the same time as vinegar or baking soda
  • Never use a steam cleaner with your dishwasher as it can cause serious damage.
  • Always check the label: use only dishwasher-specific detergents when cleaning your appliance. Other domestic detergents should be avoided.
  • Tempting as it may be, don’t delegate the task of dishwasher cleaning and maintenance to young children as it’s not safe for them (or your dishwasher for that matter!).

In closing

Now that you know all the important parts of maintaining a dishwasher, you can expect to have a smoothly working machine and nice clean dishes for the years of your appliance’s life cycle. If your dishes are coming out of the machine still dirty, that’s a sign that the machine needs a good clean.

Typical dishwashers last 10 years or so, and while daily usage can reduce that somewhat, you can extend its lifetime by cleaning it regularly and taking extra care if you ever need to store it long term.

If you’re concerned about the reliability of your home appliances, you don’t have to be! Here at Homeforce we have over 10 years of experience protecting UK homes against unexpected faults, breakdowns and other costly repairs.

Our qualified engineers are on hand to solve any dishwasher problems that may arise. So get in touch with our friendly customer care team – who understand that your home is more important than ever. Talk to us today about a Homeforce Appliance, Plumbing, and Heating Plan.

Ready to get started? Call us anytime on 0844 77 00 597 or

Get a quote