/ Home & Energy

What are your money-saving dishwasher tips?

Inside a dishwasher

Dishwasher tablets can quickly add up to over £100 a year and that’s before you factor in the cost of rinse aid, salt and using the machine. But are there cheaper options that give the same results?

I love discovering clever money-saving tips, but I’m not convinced that I need to sacrifice sparkling clean dishes to take advantage of them.

I’ve come across quite a few suggestions for cost-cutting while still getting a great clean – and I’ve summed up some popular tips below.

Saving money on dishwasher detergent

Let’s start with the obvious: looking out for money-saving deals on Best Buy dishwasher detergents or holding out until the next multibuy offer. Last year we found that big brand detergents were on promotion more often than not in several major supermarkets. The good news is that this is still true, although only if you’re prepared to shop around until you find a good deal.

Recently a Which? member contacted us about how he has literally cut his dishwasher costs in half. He’s started to use half a dishwasher tablet in each load to get double the number of washes for the money. This came up in a Convo on money-saving tips a while back too, when Jules Benning suggested the tip for those living in soft water areas.

Breaking a tablet in two is easier said than done; in my experience it involved a sharp knife and a fair amount of patience. So I’m not sure if this is something I’d recommend. Also, with some dishwasher tablets now made partly of gel, it might be rather a messy option!

Tips for sparkling crockery

One member shared their tip about using a fresh lemon:

‘Put a couple of slices of lemon in the dishwasher – it works as a rinse aid and keeps everything sparkling and fresh.’

I’ve also come across suggestions for using white vinegar instead of rinse aid, scraping (rather than pre-rinsing) dishes, washing glasses separately, and running the kitchen hot tap before starting the dishwasher.

Have you tried any of these methods? Do you have any other top dishwashing tips – either for better cleaning or saving money? Or do you think the best money-saving advice is to forgo dishwashers altogether?


I bought a large multi-pack of all-in-one Fairy dishwasher sachets from Makro over two years ago and I’ve still got plenty left. I don’t bother with rinse aid, as it has made almost no difference with any of the five dishwashers I’ve had and even glasses come out sparklingly clean with no water marks. Although I’m currently using all-in-one sachets (which theoretically don’t need salt), I still use dishwasher salt as it’s so cheap and ubiquitous. Look after your dishwasher well and it will look after your contents that you put in it.


Mrs R and I have a slight difference of opinion about rinsing crockery under the tap first. My view – its a dishwasher – why wash them yourself first! Scrape, yes, but let it do the job you bought it for. And hot water from the tap wastes money.

As for dishwasher tablets, we either buy Finish or M&S – and like DFS sofas they are usually around at half price – stock up. How do so many things these days get sold regularly at what is called half price? We must be taken for mugs – do they really take 50% off a fair price? I don’t think so.


My bulk buying of powder means I pay around 2p per dishwash AFAIR so I am not overly impressed with tablet halving. Assuming it is one of the German brands tablets then a whole tablet is about 10p which is substantially better than the big brand tablets.

I now try to avoid buying P&G and Unilever products since the 2011 EU report and fines of AFAIR 400m euro for colluding on pricing over several years to the detrimen of the consumer. There was a separate incident of the same sort in France.


My way of saving is by not having a dishwasher. 🙂


Actually that’s a false economy. I’ve definitely read somewhere, and I’m quite sure it was in a Which magazine several years ago, that washing up by hand uses more water and costs more in energy than a dishwasher. It’s also considerably more effort, fails to remove invisible dirt and is less hygienic.


Other than that though its a great idea WC 🙂

Just a note of caution. I suspect the greatest values are achieved with full dishwasher loads which might take time to accumulate.

As dishwashers heat their own water [normally – see link] I would think washing a plate and a knife after breakfast could economically done from the hot tap.



Maybe I am using more energy and water. I rinse everything thoroughly because I do not like the idea of everything being left with a film of washing-up liquid. If we took some swabs off your hands (or mine) and compared the number of bacteria with those on my hand-washed plates I can tell you which will be most contaminated.

One of my concerns with dishwashers is the small fire risk. They are often left unattended, sometimes in rooms without even a smoke alarm. Bosch recalled 600,000 machines and Hotpoint 200,000 machines to carry out modifications, but most of the owners failed to respond to the recall. I do not understand why any manufacturer should use flammable materials in construction of any kitchen appliance if non-flammable or even fire-retardant alternatives are available.

Having seen people’s efforts at washing-up by hand, I’m grateful that dishwashers are popular these days.


The joys of the Quooker the quick directed rinse with boiling water. Magic : )


NFH, Wrong, dishwashers being more economical with energy is a myth. It is based on some Euro standard which assumes that hot water is produced using a standard rate electricity tariff for both a dishwasher and when hand washing dishes.

In reality although dishwashers usually will produce their hot water on standard day rate electricity hand washed dishes usually use water produced via a home’s gas central heating system.

So given a Kwh or one unit of electricity is around 12p one Kwh or unit of mains gas is about 4p a dishwasher is only more economical if you use three times the amount of hot water handwashing. Hand washing might use more but not three times more hot water.
Even then you still need to factor in actually buying, installing and maintaining the thing, and eventually replacement the thing.

Dishwashers are not more economical than hand dish washing by a big margin.

I will accept however the myth is used and widely believed to both sell dishwashers and for the customer to justify the purchase of a dishwasher.