The economics of your dishwasher

I was on Canadian Money Forum the other day and this thread that would not normally catch my attention, well, caught my eye:

Dishwasher detergent, cost per wash

The thread went on to describe or at least try and quantify the difference in costs using dishwasher powder compared to dishwasher liquid and further still compared to dishwasher packets/pods.ย  Yes, it appears a number of people have way too much time on their hands.

Yet this got me thinking about many of the costs associated with your dishwasher, so let’s list a few:

  1. The capital cost of your appliance.
  2. The cost of appliance delivery and installation (unless it was done DIY), then go to #3.
  3. The cost your time to install the appliance versus the cost of paying somebody else (to do it right?).
  4. Your initial cost of dishwasher powder, liquid, or packets/pods unless it came free with the appliance.
  5. The ongoing cost of #4.
  6. The ongoing cost of going to the store, to buy #4.
  7. The cost of water supply or if you’re on a well like we are, go to #8.
  8. The maintenance costs of your well and water supply.
  9. The cost of hydro to run the dishwasher, regardless of setting.
  10. The non-existent cost, rather smugness feeling of using only the “light” cycle on dishwasher because you have prerinsed your dishes prior to using the appliance. Go to #11.
  11. The cost of your water supply or well maintenance for your prerinsed dishes.
  12. The opportunity costs of your time to prerinse dishes, although this could be countered with the prolonged life of your dishwasher by prerinsing dishes.
  13. The cost of hydro used for lights in your kitchen, so you can see the dishwasher you need to turn on, on the “light” cycle (after your dishes were prerinsed) and then you can turn the kitchen lights off again that you are no longer using.
  14. Let’s not forget the cost/time taken, to clip the coupons, to save your hard-earned money on the dishwasher powder, liquid, or packets/pods that you need to drive or walk to the store to get to run your modern appliance to help keep things clean.

Let’s not even go to the point of an evergreen cycle for your dishwasher appliance that includes maintenance and replacements costs.ย  I mean, I could, but that’s another great post to come don’t you think?

Don’t worry, I’ll be back to regular scheduled programming soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

My name is Mark Seed - the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, I'm looking to start semi-retirement soon, sooner than most. Find out how, what I did, and what you can learn to tailor your own financial independence path. Join the newsletter read by thousands each day, always FREE.

25 Responses to "The economics of your dishwasher"

  1. As a person who has lived with, and without a dishwasher, and the same partner for 46 years: The value of not fighting about the dishes, “priceless”.

    1. Sean, with one person you would only have to run it every ten days or so. But you need to have lots of dishes and plates!

      I have never had a dishwasher break down. Our dishwasher is 12 1/2 years old, bought when we moved into this newly built house, I still think of it as new. But the hot water heater packed it in last year.

      When I was a student and lived alone, I liked doing dishes. I could have a break from studying and not feel guilty. For one person it isn’t much work.

  2. Instead of worrying about the cost of powder vs pods, I’d be more worried about the injuries caused by pods vs powder. Pods (including laundry soap pods) have led to many poisonings in children because they look like candy, especially the ones wrapped individually in cellophane. If you use pods and there’s any chance of a child visiting/living in your home, please keep them locked up or out of reach.

  3. We’ve never owned a dishwasher before so it’s handwashing all the way. Interesting though when you read down the list but it’s all true. I can’t say that we’ve missed having something we’ve never owned however when we do the kitchen reno we will have one installed.

  4. I was always under the impression that dishwashers can get pricey for basically all the reasons you listed. I don’t quite get why people consider it a must have appliance these days. Kind of like how stainless steel and granite is still a “must” for many.

    1. OMG! A necessity these days? I think you are about 40 years behind the times, lol.
      Btw, I have lived without a dishwasher with three kids and can tell you that it is not fun.

      We did not have a dishwasher when it was just my hubby and I, big difference once you have a family. We didn’t bother with a washer and dryer until we had kids, either.

  5. We rent a condo that covers electricity and hot water. The problem is that the dishwasher does not get the dishes sparkling clean so we hand wash dishes again. My guess is that the machine will not replace human anytime soon, we may be using cheap detergent or the dishwasher from this rented condo sucks. Haha


    1. I think it depends on the dishwasher and water used actually. If the water is too soft, the dishes may not clean properly regardless of how hot the water is and how good the detergent is. Too hard of water, it may leave a residue; hard water contains “higher-than-normal” amounts of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. These minerals cause many problems in a home including deposits. There is a science to this stuff.

  6. We recently switched to the pods and we’ll probably never go back. The cost is a bit more, but it just SEEMS so much more convenient. I know it can’t be that much easier to pop a pod in than it is to scoop some detergent, but we got a decent mental boost by seemingly eliminating one more task. I’m sure it’s silly, but for now we’ll pay a bit more and call it good. I’d love a frugal dishwasher tip post in the future!

    1. Love the pods. We get ours at Costco. No phosphates, better for environment. I don’t coupon clip for them either. I’m really not worried paying $0.50 more per bucket when I need to spend a couple bucks in gas money to get to the store.

      I’ll give that frugal dishwasher tip post some consideration! Thanks for checking out the post Janeen.

      1. Careful with those no phosphate things, if your water is not hot enough, it doesn’t disolve that well and can clug your drain… it happened to me, talk about added cost to find out what had happened and clean it out.

  7. Worth noting, I lived without a dishwasher for a year at one point and the cost of water usage went up noticeably. Enough that getting a cheap one was the right financial decision in the long run, certainly when you included the time savings. Unquestionable that all these things contribute to cost, usually in hidden or unknown ways, but we need to remember there’s a cost without them as well, and sometimes surprising cost differences we didn’t expect!

    I’ll let someone else debate powder vs pod vs liquid ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Great to hear from you Jeff.

      Yeah, I just figured it might be interesting to outline the various capital and operational costs of a dishwasher. Maybe interesting is the wrong word ๐Ÿ™‚

      I couldn’t care less about the powder vs. liquid. vs. pod debate. We use the pods from Costco for our dishwasher since they are septic friendly and fairly inexpensive. Who knew quality and inexpensive can go together?!

      Thanks for reading,


Post Comment