How Do Dishwashers Work? Things You Need to Know

The invention of dishwasher is really meaningful for the human kind. You must have already known a dishwasher can clean dishes and even dry them. But do you really know what is the process?

In this article, KitchenLowCost will share with you how do dishwashers work in reality. Let’s jump right in.

Inside The Dishwasher

Before exploring how do dishwashers work, we would like to show you the inside of the dishwasher first.

how do dishwashers work

As we can see from the image above, it is the most common structure of a dishwasher.

Almost all of the crucial parts are included in the picture. The major components of a dishwasher are made of plastic and steel. The basic structure includes a steel frame assembly and a steel door panel.

Those parts that are illustrated in the image have a tight connection to how do dishwashers work.

Some modern and high-end dishwashers may have one or more special elements. However, without those additional elements, an average dishwasher still can operate well and produce efficient results in cleaning dishes.

Next, we will go into the process of how do dishwashers work.

How Do Dishwashers Work?

So usually how do dishwashers work?

how do dishwashers work

A dishwasher is a smart appliance but it still needs to be operated by human beings.

First, people have to put the dirty dishes into the dishwasher, pour detergent, set the washing cycles and turn on the machine. Then the dishwasher would function itself. The process of how do dishwashers work would be:

  • Pump water in
  • Heat the water to the suited temperature
  • Automatically open the detergent dispenser at the appropriate time
  • Shoot the water through spray arms to wash the dishes
  • Drain dirty water
  • Spray more water on the dishes to rinse them
  • Drain water again
  • Heat the air inside the machine to dry the dishes (if this function has been selected in advance)

In reality, dishwashers also have features to monitor themselves, ensuring the process goes on properly.

It has a timer to manage how long each cycle runs. Another sensor checks on the water and air temperature to save the dishwasher from overheating or damaging the dishes and utensils.

Some models even have sensor which can detect if the water level gets too high and it will activate the draining function to keep the machine from overflowing.

How Do Dishwashers Work? Things You Need to Know
Some types of sensors

After water is pumped into the machine, the heating element at the bottom will heat the water up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit while mixing water with the detergent.

There would be a pump sending water up to the spray arms, from there water would be driven out and spray onto the dirty dishes.

When the food particles are washed off of the dishes, they will be ground into small pieces and disintegrated, or else they will be caught in a filter.

How Do Dishwashers Work? Things You Need to Know

Then the process of heating water, spraying it and letting it run back into the pool below will repeat several times.

When the washing and rinsing is done, water will again drain down to the basin, and the pump will propel the water out of the machine.

The dry cycle is the final one in a wash cycle. The heating element at the bottom of the dishwasher heats the air inside to dry the dishes. This cycle is optional so you can choose to run it or just leave the dishes dry themselves to save energy.

We would like to give overview of some questions relating to how do dishwashers work as following.

How Much Water Does A Dishwasher Use?

How Do Dishwashers Work? Things You Need to Know

The first question relating to how do dishwashers work is how much water does a dishwasher use.

Dishwashers which are manufactured before 1994 can use approximately 34-53 litres of water in each load.

However, new models these days consume averagely only 9-11 litres of water per cycle. They are designed to only use the exact amount of water they need to clean dishes efficiently.

How Does Dishwasher Detergent Work?

In addition to how do dishwashers work, people also want to know how does dishwasher detergent work.

how do dishwashers work

Modern dishwasher detergents contain enzymes to deal with the food stains on your dishes.

These enzymes are called protease and amylase, and their function is to digest protein and starch which will present on the dishes. They break down the food, grinding it into smaller particles in the same way that the enzymes in your stomach digest food.

Of course, the dishwasher doesn’t absorb these ingredients. They are then flushed away out of the machine with the rest of the gunk from dishes.

How Does A Dishwasher Drain?

How does a dishwasher drain pump work is the next question relating to how do dishwashers work.

How Do Dishwashers Work? Things You Need to Know

When your dishwasher cleans your dishes, the waste water from the dishwasher is propelled out and transferred to the air gap by a hose.

Usually, the dishwasher pumps waste water to the air gap where it’s carried by the drain hose to the garbage disposal.

The air gap which separates the openings of two hoses prevents waste water from backing up and contaminating clean water as well as the washed dishes.

Guides to Choose Best Dishwashers

After knowing how do dishwashers work, you also need to know how to choose best dishwashers. We would like to give you some guides below in case you want to purchase one.

How Do Dishwashers Work? Things You Need to Know


Dishwashers has various sizes. The smallest are countertop and in-sink dishwashers. Countertop units don’t require installation, they just sit on top of the counter.

Meanwhile, in-sink dishwashers often fit into one-half of a double kitchen sink.

The regular size of a dishwasher is 24 inches (61 centimeters) wide. However, 18-inch (46-centimeter) models are also available and common. They are known as “apartment-sized” dishwashers.

Drawer dishwasher consumes less water and energy than a full-sized dishwasher and is suitable for small kitchens. However, they also come in double-drawer models that can load as many dishes as a standard dishwasher.

Basins and Racks

Some dishwasher models with lower quality have plastic basins, while some mid- and all high-priced units have stainless steel ones.

How Do Dishwashers Work? Things You Need to Know

Dish racks have many configurations. The more expensive the dishwasher is, the more flexibility and loading capacity it will provide.

The optimal options can be collapsible racks, extra shelves, folding tines, and removable racks.

Extra Features

Some models may come with special features. For example, a soil sensor estimating how dirty your dishes are and modifying the washing time and water amount accordingly will save water.

Other energy-saving options include half-load and speed-wash cycles.

How Do Dishwashers Work? Things You Need to Know

More expensive models have WiFi connection, which allows you to take control of the machine via your smartphone.

Another extra feature is noise suppression. This will be really worthy if you place the dishwasher near your bedding room or your house doesn’t have much space.

Energy Cost

Lastly, energy cost is also one factor you need to consider. It might be the factor that has the most impact on your decision, especially when you don’t have big budget.

Make sure that you have carefully looked at the information of each dishwasher that you tend to buy. Consider if they’re really a good choice for your personal needs.


Below are some questions that people also ask besides how do dishwashers work.

Do dishwashers save water?

Yes, using dishwashers do save water than washing dishes by hands. Some up-to-date models of dishwashers come with high-quality technology.

They might only consume 9-10 litres of water while it takes approximately 60 litres of water when you wash by hands.

So when compared to washing dishes by hands, dishwashers can help you save around 85% of water. It also can help to save up to 18,000 litres of water one year.

Is it cheaper to wash dishes or use dishwasher?

As we have mentioned above, using a dishwasher saves water so you can reduce the monthly water bills.

Besides, some models are manufactured with high quality and they have features which can be energy efficient. That’s why you can also save electricity when using them and reduce the electricity bills.

Therefore, using dishwashers is generally cheaper. It is effective and saves your time.

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We KitchenLowCost hope that you have found the answer for the question how do dishwashers work after reading this post. Follow us for more interesting articles and you can comment down below what you think of dishwashers.