Should You Run a Dishwasher Empty for the First Time

Running a dishwasher empty for the first time may seem like an unnecessary step, but it’s a topic that often sparks confusion among new dishwasher owners. In this article, we will delve into the reasons behind this practice and whether it is indeed essential. We’ll provide you with valuable insights to help you make an informed decision about whether or not to run your dishwasher empty for its maiden voyage.

The Importance of the First Run

Running your dishwasher empty during its initial use is not just an arbitrary recommendation; it serves a crucial purpose. Let’s explore why it’s considered a prudent step.

Removing Residue

When dishwashers are manufactured, they may accumulate dust, debris, or manufacturing residues during the assembly process. Running it empty ensures that these contaminants are removed, preventing them from sticking to your dishes later.

Testing Functionality

The first run allows you to assess your dishwasher’s functionality without risking damage to your valuable dishes. It’s an opportunity to check for any leaks, unusual noises, or other issues that may require attention.

The Cleaning Process

Now that we understand the significance of running an empty cycle let’s delve into the step-by-step process of cleaning your dishwasher for its first use.

Check for Obstructions

Before running the dishwasher, inspect the spray arms, filters, and drain to ensure there are no obstructions. Remove any debris that may impede the cleaning process.

Use a Dishwasher Cleaner

To thoroughly clean the interior of your dishwasher, use a specialized dishwasher cleaner. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure proper usage.

Choose the Right Cycle

Select a regular cleaning cycle with hot water. This helps in removing any remaining residues effectively.

Energy Efficiency Considerations

Saving Energy and Water

Some argue against running an empty dishwasher due to concerns about wasting energy and water. However, modern dishwashers are designed to be energy-efficient. Running an empty cycle initially can be justified by the long-term benefits it provides in terms of cleaner dishes and better performance.

Energy-Saving Features

Newer dishwasher models often come with energy-saving features like sensor technology and eco-friendly modes. These features ensure that running the dishwasher empty for the first time won’t have a significant impact on your utility bills.

Maintenance Tips

Regular Maintenance

To keep your dishwasher in top condition, perform regular maintenance tasks like cleaning the filter, checking for blockages, and inspecting the seals. This will extend the lifespan of your appliance and maintain its efficiency.

Loading Dishes Properly

Properly loading your dishwasher with dishes, pots, and utensils can make a significant difference in its performance. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the best results.


In conclusion, running a dishwasher empty for the first time is a recommended practice that serves to remove any residues and test the appliance’s functionality. While there may be concerns about energy and water usage, the long-term benefits of cleaner dishes and improved performance outweigh these initial considerations.

Now that you understand the importance of this practice, you can ensure that your dishwasher is in optimal condition for all your future dishwashing needs.


1. Is it absolutely necessary to run a dishwasher empty for the first time?

It is highly recommended but not an absolute necessity. Running it empty ensures better cleaning performance and the removal of potential contaminants.

2. Can I use vinegar instead of a dishwasher cleaner for the first run?

While vinegar can be used for cleaning, it’s advisable to use a specialized dishwasher cleaner to ensure thorough cleansing and prevent any unwanted odors.

3. How often should I clean my dishwasher after the initial run?

Regular maintenance should be performed every 1-3 months, depending on usage and water hardness. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the best results.

4. Are there any DIY methods for cleaning a dishwasher?

Yes, you can use a mixture of baking soda and water to clean the interior. However, using a dishwasher cleaner is often more effective.

5. Can I run the dishwasher empty with detergent during the first cycle?

It’s not necessary to use detergent for the first empty run. Using a specialized dishwasher cleaner is sufficient to remove residues and contaminants.

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