Do Dishwashers Have Heating Elements? All You Need To Know About Your Dishwasher

“Do dishwashers have heating elements?” is a common concern arising from the fact that old and new dishwashers function differently in terms of their drying methods. In this article, we will be going in-depth about the heating elements and their function in a dishwasher.

Most of the newer dishwashers do not have a heating element. The use what called “condensation drying” to dry the dishes. With that being said, there are still plenty of older model dishwashers that are still being used today that have heating elements.

do dishwashers have heating elements

Which Dishwashers Have Heating Elements

That question could be answered by examining both your old and new dishwashers. By examining your old dishwasher thoroughly, you will find a black exposed tube at the bottom of the basin. That black tube is what we call a heating element.

The heating element operates at the beginning of the drying cycle. It’s responsible for heating the air inside the dishwasher to evaporate the remaining water droplets on top of the dishes.

However, if you did the same thing to your new dishwasher, you won’t find a black tube, or anything similar to it. So, dishwashers did have a heating element, but not as often anymore.

How Does a Dishwasher Work

To understand how dishwashers evolved from having a heating element to not having one, you need to first understand how they operate. Every dishwasher has an internal computer system that controls the washing cycle. That system could be accessed through the tiny control panel placed on the door of a dishwasher.

The cycle starts by pumping in hot water through a reversible pump that provides water at the beginning of the cycle and dispenses water throughout different phases of the cycle.

Opposite to common belief, dishwashers don’t fill up with water while cleaning dishes. They use water jets, similar to plant irrigation jets, to spray the dishes and get rid of residuals. Then, that water is constantly drained after every stage of the cleaning process.

To thoroughly cleanse the dishes, dishwashers primarily depend on three elements:

  • Hot water to kill bacteria and disinfect the dishes.
  • High water pressure to get rid of food remains. 
  • Detergent, and other rinsing aids to remove oily substances.

Since having hot water is a must, most dishwashers come with their own external heater to provide the system with water as hot as 140 F. 

The high water pressure is then created within the water pumps by forcefully spraying water through the jets. Lastly, detergent is frequently dispensed through different stages of the cleaning process. Then, the contaminated water is pumped out once more, and the drying process begins.

Heat Drying

The drying process is where the difference between old and new models shows up. In an old model, a heating element, which is an exposed tube at the bottom of the dishwasher’s basin, will emit an immense amount of heat drying up the water droplets left on the dishes. 

The Advantages of Heat Drying

Many people would argue that heat drying is better than condensation drying or air drying. We all know that high temperatures kill the majority of germs and harmful bacteria. For that alone, drying your dishes using a heating element has proven to be more sanitary. 

In addition to that, heat drying is a sure way to get all your dishes completely dry. It’s also great for glassware, as it eliminates haziness and water stains. 

The Disadvantages of Heat Drying

Taking up to 30 minutes to completely dry dishes makes heated dry extremely inefficient in terms of energy usage. With the new federal energy laws, It is no surprise that the majority of heated dry models were replaced by condensation models.

Another major flaw in the heat dry system is that high temperatures could damage many of your kitchen utensils, especially if you’re using plastic or wooden tableware. If you must, you’re always advised to keep those in the upper rug. 

Condensation Drying

In more advanced models, the inner walls of a dishwasher are made of stainless steel. Stainless steel works as a cooling agent. So, instead of using a heating element, a condensation mechanism is used. That system dries the dishes by covering them with hot water and letting the cool stainless steel interiors create a condensation effect.

The Advantages of Condensation Drying System

Opposite to heated systems, condensation systems are economical in terms of energy consumption. Considering, it doesn’t require any sort of electricity to trigger a condensation effect on cold surfaces. It’s just simple physics. 

Additionally, condensation drying improves the longevity of your dishware, as it doesn’t put air restraints on them. Also, the lack of a heating element at the bottom of the tub means you don’t have to worry about ruining your plastic dishes. 

The Disadvantages of Condensation Drying System

What gets many people fretting about condensation systems is that they don’t completely dry your dishes. That means you will always have damp dishware even after drying. The problem might become much worse if the majority of your dishes are made of plastic. 

We know that plastic is a poor conductor of heat, so it’s difficult to trigger a condensation effect on top of it. You will always end up with dripping plastic dishes at the end of the drying cycle.

Reasons Why Your Dishwasher Isn’t Drying Well

There are quite a few reasons why people would complain about the inefficiency of their dishwashers: 

  • Sometimes the pumps grow old or get clogged which results in low water pressure. So, clean your pipes with a needle, or replace them. 
  • The use of regular detergent instead of a special dishwasher detergent will result in a lot of foaming which can make rinsing and drying your dishes harder.
  • If your water comes from a hard water source, consider using a rinsing aid.
  • If you’re using a condensation drying dishwasher, having a lot of plastics might be the problem.


“Do dishwashers have heating elements?” Yes, some dishwashers do have a heating element, but that doesn’t mean that not having one is the sole reason why your dishes aren’t drying up. Not every good dishwasher has a heating element. Knowing that would help you choose a dishwasher compatible with your kitchenware. 

You don’t need to check the manuals to find out whether your new dishwasher has a heating element or not. You could simply check the control buttons for a heat drying option, or look for a circular black tube at the bottom of the dishwasher’s tub. 

If you’re worried about having a kitchen rug full of wet dishes, following the previous simple procedures, would help you put your mind at ease.

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