Why do dishwashers take so long?

mom270October 30, 2009

We just replaced the ancient dishwasher that came with our house with a new Whirlpool. It takes SOOO much longer than the old one, yet it's an Energy Star. Does anyone know why cycle times are so much longer in 21st century appliances?

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clg7067

To get the dishes clean? I was thinking about this. If you soak a dish in water long enough, the food washes away easier. That's my take on it.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 11:21AM
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dadoes

Dishwashers nowadays have smaller pumps and lower spray volume than the water-guzzlers of the past. Longer cycle times, coupled with enzyme detergents to dissolve food soils, are thusly required to maintain cleaning performance. Smaller pumps and less aggressive spray is also a factor in promoting quiet operation. Even with longer operating times, less energy is used than older units.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 2:34PM
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mom270

Thanks dadoes. That's good to know.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 3:10PM
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jakvis

Dishwashers need 5 elements in order to clean
Time
Temperature
Water
Chemical (detergent)
Mechanical action

If you lessen one of the 5 elements you need to increase one or more of the others.
If you lessen Mechanical action you may need to inscrease the time or the temperature or both.
If you use less detergent you may need to increase the other elements

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 7:03PM
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rogerv_gw

It takes a certain amount of time for a dishwasher to heat up the incoming water, especially for a "sanitizing" wash.

-Roger

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 8:07PM
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jkom51

I don't use the heated dry on our KA DW - us Left Coast greenies are conditioned that way, LOL - and the cycle on the KUDS30IVSS for a normal wash is 1 hr 15 min, which is only 15 min longer than my old (and terrible) 1989 Kenmore/GE. I also notice that even without heated dry, the new DW uses the residual heat to dry the dishes quite well anyway, which is nice.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 8:09PM
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pharaoh

my asko take an average of 1hr 27 min to do a full load. dishes come out sparkling clean. Leave it over night and they are pretty dry. i dont waste electricity drying plastics...

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 9:01PM
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monicakm_gw

mom270, good question! I've wondered the same thing.
dadoes & jakvis, good answers :)
Seems backwards tho. Seems like with newer technology it would take 1/2 as long instead of 2x as long :o
Monica

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 10:20PM
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jakvis

You have to think of it this way.
Let's say the old D/W motor used 150 watts per hour to run and to make the math easy lets say the old D/W had a 1 hour cycle. Total power used = 150 watts
Now say the new D/W has a 50 watt motor. The 50 watt motor doesn't spray as hard so the manufacturer makes the cycle 2 hours. Total power used = 100 watts This means the old D/W used half again more power than the new D/W.
The old D/W had more mechanical action (harder spray) and the new D/W had less mechanical action (softer spray) so it needed more time to do the same job but the motor was so much more efficient it used less energy.
There's more to it of course with flow through heaters verses ring heaters, less water vs more water, etc. etc. but the above is the simple explanation.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 12:41AM
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monicakm_gw

When it comes to math, my brain appreciates "simple" :)

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 8:55AM
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jaym2009

I am curious about the long wash time too. But I must say that any dishwasher I've had in the past didn't really clean the dishes... it just made them hot.

Our newer dishwasher actually cleans dirty dishes. Older dishwashers would only clean dishes that were already cleaned a little bit by hand first.

There is a thread about commercial dishwashers. They only take 2-4 minutes to run. But they don't clean, they only sterilize.

So I guess watching TV or reading for 2 hours is better than hand washing dishes for 20 minutes.

~Jay

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 10:10PM
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lee676

One reason is that older dishwashers were designed back when hot water heater tanks were routinely kept at 140°F - pre-1990s dishwashers relied on hot incoming water and rarely heated the wash water themselves (several DWs had "sani rinse" options that heated the final *rinse* only, ostensibly to sanitize the dishes). More recently, recommended hot water tank temperature was dropped to 120°F, primarily to prevent scalding injuries at faucets and showers, but also to save energy. 120°F is hot enough for showers and usually for washing clothes, but insufficient for washing dishes in a dishwasher. So newer machines internally heat the water during the wash cycle, and sometimes during the prewash, and often during the final rinse to facilitate drying - all increasing cycle times.

As with clothes washers, this is another instance where U.S. 120V/15A electric circuits have become problematic - the feeble power supply stifles the heating elements and results in *slow* water heating - taking about 15 minutes to heat the water 20 degrees, as well as longer drying times. European-market dishwashers running on 240V power heat the water so quickly that many of them draw water from the cold water line rather than the hot, and still wash and dry the dishes faster than 120V machines sold in North America.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2009 at 6:46AM
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rogerv_gw

It takes a certain amount of time for a dishwasher to heat up the incoming water, especially for a "sanitizing" wash.

-Roger

    Bookmark   November 2, 2009 at 7:33PM
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mjhunt

I can't accept any of these responses as they are simply excuses to me. The thing that really disappoints me is that I don't have a choice to run a short cycle. Frankly, I rinse my dishes before they go in the dishwasher so a 10-20-minute cycle is what I want. A five minute wash and a five minute rinse would work best for me. I worked at a hotel year's ago and the Concierge suite had a dishwasher that had a cycle of a minute or two.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2011 at 1:30PM
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kasper101

I can't accept the responses as well. I have a dishwasher with a quick wash of 28 minutes, and it works just fine. The commercial washers use a much higher water temperature so it is quicker, but there is absolutely no need for 1 or 2 hour wash. Wear out the dishwasher fast? seems like it might be the only reason, no wonder appliances dont last very long any more.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 5:47PM
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