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Why You Should NOT Leave a Dishwasher Unattended

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Long gone are the days of scrubbing each dish by hand and dreading those after-meal chores. Most homes today have some form of dishwasher in place that can do the hard work for you. Unfortunately, many do not know the risks that come along with dishwashers and how you should avoid leaving them unattended.

Dishwashers are routinely very safe but do produce enough heat to start a fire. This fire risk along with the water damage risks that come with dishwashers means that they should not be left unattended. Homeowners should never leave an appliance with a heating element unattended.

While all appliances can lead to unwanted fires or other risks, this should not deter you from using your dishwasher. In fact, it is important that you learn more about these risks so that you can avoid having a disaster in your home. To better understand the risks associated with dishwashers, please keep reading.

Can you Leave Home with the Dishwasher On?

Leaving the home with a dishwasher running can lead to many issues for a homeowner. There is always a small chance of water damage should the appliance begin to malfunction. However, the biggest reason to avoid leaving a dishwasher unattended is the chance of fire.

For the safety of your home, you should never leave any appliances unattended. As with many appliances, the dishwasher does have a heating element and is warm enough to cause flames. The best rules to keep in mind regarding your dishwasher are:

  • Never leave your dishwasher running and unattended. You should make sure that the cycle has been completed before leaving the house. 
  • Keep your dishwasher manual nearby in case of an incident. This is the first place to go if you are having issues with the dishwasher working properly.
  • If you purchase a dishwasher second hand, it is best to have the wiring checked out by a professional before using. 
  • If at any time you feel that the dishwasher is overheating or you suspect wiring issues, it is best to stop the washing cycle. You should not use the appliance again until it has been checked by a professional.

According to The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there is an average of 500 dishwasher fires in the country each year. While this may not be an overwhelming number, it is a large enough threat to be concerned. The best way to avoid this issue is to stay home while your dishwasher is running. 

Can You Go to Sleep with the Dishwasher On?

For many, running the dishwasher at the end of the day only makes sense. You load up the dishes from the day and start it right before bed.

Did you know you can wear clothes to bed?

Unfortunately, this is not always the best routine to have in place, and running your dishwasher at night can be a major problem. 

The dishwasher itself has a high wattage and a heating element that can clearly lead to a fire. While you will still be in the home while sleeping, you are not actively awake to react if a fire should start. Some things to keep in mind about running your dishwasher at night are:

  • Always ensure that someone is at the home and awake while the dishwasher is running. 
  • You are less likely to notice an issue with your dishwasher while sleeping. Make sure the dishwasher is at or very close to the end of the cycle before lying down for the night.
  • Some energy companies offer lower rates during the night hours, which can make running your dishwasher then tempting. However, it is best to try to catch this lower cost window while you are awake.
  • If you can start the dishwasher a little before you go to bed, this can still be lower costs. You can also start the dishwasher early in the morning and often get lowered rates.

Overall, you should never sleep while your dishwasher is running. If you need to start your dishwasher in the evening, do so prior to falling asleep.

Read more about doing dishes at night here.

Should You Leave the Dishwasher Door Open to Dry? 

Your dishwasher should tell you when the cycle is complete. Once it has completely finished, you will be able to leave your home or go to sleep as you please. Some choose to leave the door of the dishwasher open until it has completely dried. 

While it is not always necessary to leave the dishwasher open, this can be beneficial to the overall health of your dishwasher. By opening the door of the dishwasher at the end of the cycle, you are certain that it is no longer running. Also, this helps ensure that the dishwasher gets some airflow.

By opening the door, air will enter the dishwasher lowering the chance of mold and other microbes developing. This also lowers the chance of any unwanted smells building up in the dishwasher. 

How to Prevent Dishwasher Fires?

While this can be a bit intimidating, you should not be afraid to run your dishwasher. If you have a dishwasher that is in good working order, you should have no problems running it. However, some basic ways that you can help keep your home safe while running the dishwasher are:

  • Always follow the manufacturer instructions for the dishwasher.
  • Most dishwasher companies will allow you to register your dishwasher on the manufacturer website. This will give you updates on any recalls, safety information, or other news regarding the appliance.
  • Always turn off the dishwasher before leaving your home or going to bed. Never leave it unsupervised.
  • Routinely check the dishwasher for any broken components. If you see any issues, you should contact a repair service. Always double check any plastic components, as a broken piece can lead to fire.
  • Unless you are highly trained, you should never try to fix the dishwasher yourself. If you notice any pieces are malfunctioning, you should contact a repairman.
  • Make sure that the outlets in your home can support the electrical load of the dishwasher. This will help lower the chances of a fire starting.
  • You should plug the dishwasher into a grounded wall socket. Also, regularly check this power cord to ensure that it is not frayed or malfunctioning in any way.
  • Always clean and maintain your dishwasher regularly. This will help prolong the life of the dishwasher and help lower the chances of fire.
  • Always ensure that your home has enough working fire alarms to alert of flame. Your kitchen should have at least one fire alarm present.
  • You should also have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen area. This is needed for any cooking incidents but can also be used should the dishwasher malfunction. 

While avoiding fires completely may not be possible, being prepared for disaster is key. Being proactive and working to keep your home safe is the best way to avoid dishwasher issues. 

You can buy fire extinguishers and smoke detectors on Amazon (paid links).

Keep Your Home Safe

Overall, running your dishwasher is not something that you should be afraid of. However, you should never leave your dishwasher unattended and running as this can lead to a fire. Staying present when running your dishwasher is the best way to avoid disaster.

We answer more important dishwasher questions in the next article. You can check it out now to learn more.


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