Dishwashers have improved a lot in recent decades. Not only do they clean better, but they have become much more efficient. In the 1990s, the average dishwasher used 10 gallons of water per cycle. Today, some use as little as 2 gallons. There is no longer any question about whether dishwashers or handwashing uses more water and electricity.
Dishwashers barely rank in the top 10 most energy-intensive appliances in the home anymore, but buying a dishwasher is still a major purchase that you hope to use for at least 10 and maybe up to 20 years. You want the greenest dishwasher you can buy now, so that you can be happy with your purchase even after new technology raises the bar.
The information in this article is based on our research to help you pick the most sustainable products. The results — displayed below in a printable chart you can use when shopping — reveal just how Earth-friendly dishwashers can get.
To view our complete printable comparison chart, click the table below.
Criteria Not Considered
Stainless steel dishwasher interiors are recyclable, while plastic interiors are not. Most brands offer both kinds, so our comparison chart, which evaluates entire brands rather than individual washers, does not include interior construction material as a criterion. But consumers, when narrowing their choices down to a specific washer for purchase, should consider whether the interior is metal or plastic.
For other products, like mattresses, shipping and packaging are important criteria in Earth911 buyers’ guides. However, few dishwasher brands sell directly to retail customers. Most homeowners will purchase their dishwashers from third parties whose practices will vary. This is the same reason that pricing information (usually provided as a courtesy rather than a criterion) in the chart is incomplete. Manufacturers that don’t sell directly don’t always list the manufacturer’s suggested retail price on their websites, and retailers rarely sell a brand’s entire line.
The two factors involved in dishwasher efficiency are energy and water use. Maximizing efficient use of one often requires using more of the other. Since 2016, the Energy Star criteria for standard-sized dishwashers (eight or more place-setting capacity) are ≤ 270 kWh/year and ≤ 3.5 gallons/cycle. Dishwasher brands had to meet these Energy Star standards to be considered for this buyers’ guide.
All brands listed make at least one Energy Star certified dishwasher. Many of them make only Energy Star products. The highest ranked manufacturers make dishwashers that are rated Energy Star Most Efficient. These dishwashers exceed regular Energy Star standards and use no more than 240 kWh/year and 3.2 gallons of water per cycle.
The energy and water use information on an appliance’s “yellow tag” is based on a standard run cycle. Many dishwashers have programs that allow you to run them more efficiently, like “eco-cycle,” air dry, or adjustable temperature settings. “Auto wash” programs detect how full and how dirty the load is, adjusting the water and temperature accordingly. Auto wash or “auto sense” programs can save water and energy. However, if you’re in the habit of running extra-full loads of crusty dishes, auto wash could end up using more water and energy than the advertised efficiency for the model.
For this comparison, eco-cycles were given priority. Auto sense programs were considered eco-cycles but were not weighted as heavily. Lowering the temperature of wash water can also save energy. However, few people ever learn how to operate manual settings on home appliances, so manual temperature adjustments were not a rating consideration. If you are the sort of person who does use manual settings, you may be able to shop lower on this list and achieve the same efficiency as higher rated products.
Half-load programs were not considered eco-cycles because they use more than half as much energy and water as a full load. They are not as efficient as a full load and more frequent operation will shorten the life of the appliance. So, it is better to buy the right-sized dishwasher for your needs and run only full loads.
Finding information on the embodied environmental costs (the environmental impact of manufacturing) of appliances is close to impossible. But no matter how efficient a dishwasher is per load, the overall environmental cost will be higher if the machine needs to be replaced after only a few years. Most dishwashers are designed and tested to last about 10 years. Some brands are anecdotally known for lasting longer. But Asko and Miele are the only brands that claim to design for a 20-year lifespan.
For this comparison, we evaluated reliability using the brand’s publicly stated designed lifespan, Consumer Reports ratings, and length of warranty — when this information could be found online. Note that for nearly all of the 10 brands we reviewed, Consumer Report gave lower ratings for drying capability. This isn’t surprising, considering that drying is the most energy intensive part of a dishwasher cycle.
Although specific environmental data about appliance manufacturing was not available for any brand, there is information about some of the companies themselves. CSRHub — an aggregator of voluntarily disclosed company environmental and social responsibility data — gives corporations an overall percentile score that ranks companies within each industry. A CSRHub score of 99 would mean that a company ranked above 99 percent of its peers, so a higher rating number is better.
Greenest Dishwasher Rankings
Miele is an independent family-owned company established in Germany in 1899. They make 28 models on Energy Star’s 2019 Most Efficient Dishwashers list. They are not the most efficient dishwashers on that list, but Miele’s Energy Saver and Extra Economical wash programs improve environmental performance. With a company motto of “Immer besser” (Always better), Miele focuses on sustainability in its operations, even though they have not submitted data to CSRHub. They design their dishwashers to last 20 years and the four models tested earned “Very Good” ratings from Consumer Reports, even for drying capability.
The appliance company Asko has been owned by the Slovenian Gorenje Corporation since 2010, but the company’s emphasis on Scandinavian design and culture of sustainability has not changed. All built-in Asko dishwashers are Energy Star certified, and six of them are on Energy Star’s 2019 Most Efficient Dishwashers list. Like Miele, their standard wash program is not the highest on that list, but Green Mode and Eco Wash programs improve efficiency. Product testing equates to 20 years of use. Consumer Reports looked at only one Asko dishwasher, giving it an overall “Good” score, noting poor drying capability and somewhat more noise than other dishwashers. More than any other brand in the top 10, Asko emphasizes the use of recyclable stainless steel instead of plastic for even smaller dishwasher components.
Beko is the home appliances brand of the Turkish Arçelik A.S. Group. Established in 1967 and available in 130 countries, the brand only entered the U.S. market in 2016, so it is unfamiliar to most U.S. consumers. Parent company Arçelik A.S. earned “Climate A List Company – Global 2017 Climate & Water Leadership Award” by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), and was graded “AAA” by the MSCI Global Sustainability Index Series, which includes companies with high environmental, social, and governance ratings relative to their sector peers.
Beko has been the Energy Star Partner of the Year for two years running. They make 28 Energy Star dishwashers; five of them are on Energy Star’s 2019 Most Efficient Dishwashers list. They have the highest efficiency ratings of all available dishwashers, with several models using as little as 2.4 gallons of water per cycle and other models using as little as 220 kWh/year. When more reliability data becomes available for their U.S.-release models, this brand could shoot to the top of the list.
Blomberg makes 24 Energy Star certified dishwashers, four of which are on Energy Star’s 2019 Most Efficient Dishwashers list. Like Beko, Blomberg is owned by Arçelik A.S. and was an Energy Star Partner of the Year in 2018. The two brands have very similar efficiency, life expectancy, and consumer ratings. Consumer Reports rated five Blomberg dishwashers “Good” or “Very Good.” But Blomberg’s warranty is not quite as strong as Beko’s. Blomberg dishwashers feature multiple insulation layers and a variable speed circulation motor that automatically adjusts for optimum water and energy consumption in an Auto Wash program.
The family-owned Italian company Smeg was founded in 1948 as an enamelworks, and still offers a line of retro-styled enamel appliances. Today, the company prioritizes sustainability, making five Energy Star dishwashers with one model on Energy Star’s 2019 Most Efficient Dishwashers list. Overall, they are slightly less efficient than Blomberg. With limited U.S. presence, Smeg dishwashers have not been evaluated by Consumer Reports, and they do not have a published life expectancy.
Felix Storch, Inc. is an American appliance company specializing in refrigeration and ADA-compliant appliances. Most of their products are manufactured in the United States, but their dishwashers are European-made under the Summit brand. They make only two dishwashers, and the company’s sustainability efforts appear to be limited to the Energy Star program. But they do Energy Star very well. Both dishwashers are Energy Star certified and one of them is on Energy Star’s 2019 Most Efficient Dishwashers list. They do not appear to have an eco-wash cycle, and Consumer Reports has not evaluated their reliability.
Samsung makes 17 Energy Star dishwasher models, with three of them on Energy Star’s 2019 Most Efficient Dishwashers list. They provide extensive information about their numerous sustainability initiatives, most of which are not specific to home appliances. Similarly, their relatively low CSRHub score of 84 could reflect the inherent environmental costs of electronics manufacturing more than appliances. They do offer a Smart Auto Wash cycle, which would place them above Summit. However, where Summit’s reliability is unknown, Samsung has known issues with reliability. While Consumer Reports gave the four models it evaluated “Good” or “Very Good” overall scores, all four models rated “Poor” for reliability, dropping Samsung to the lowest rank among Energy Star Most Efficient Dishwasher manufacturers.
KitchenAid is owned by Whirlpool, which has a well-established sustainability program. They make 36 Energy Star dishwashers. Higher energy use keeps them off of the Most Efficient Dishwasher list, but their water use is lower than many brands that did make the list. With five models rated “Excellent” overall by Consumer Reports, KitchenAid is second only to the more water-intensive Bosch for reliability, making it the most reliable, best performing, brand in Earth911’s buyers’ guide.
There are 24 Energy Star models of LG dishwasher. With a CSRHub score of 92, they are the highest ranked manufacturer on this list for corporate responsibility. Their dishwashers tend to use slightly less energy and more water than KitchenAid. Despite a slightly longer promised lifespan, Consumer Reports does not rate LG as highly as KitchenAid for reliability and consumer satisfaction. Of seven reviewed models, only four rated “Very Good.” Their sustainability website focuses on electronics recycling.
The Frigidaire brand is owned by the European Electrolux company, which has a CSRHub score of 91. Their dishwashers are comparable in efficiency to LG, with both soil sensor and energy saver wash programs. Their promised lifespan is a minimum of 10 years. But Consumer Reports ratings are slightly lower for Frigidaire than for LG, especially in the “Consumer Satisfaction” category.
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