Is the eco-setting on my appliance a con?

Woman bending down to load a washing machine in a bright kitchen.
(Image credit: Miele)

Energy consumption is the topic on the tip of everyone's tongue - more specifically, lowering it. With rising energy bills and being kind to the planet on our conscience, it's natural that we should try to use eco-settings as much as possible. However, there are still some big misconceptions surrounding eco-settings, with many people wondering if they clean as well as other settings or if they just take longer. 

Understandably, these concerns can make us reluctant to veer from our favorite washing settings and instead choose an eco-friendly option, which is why Sophie Lane, Product Training Manager for Miele GB, is here to debunk the biggest myths. 

So whether you're looking for some top laundry tips or you've just invested in one of the best dishwashers and want to know how to use it, you'll be ready to use your eco-settings confidently. 

Myth 1: Laundry and crockery does not come out clean from an eco program

We've all been there - eagerly opening up your dishwasher at the end of a cycle only to find that your porridge from the previous morning is still stuck to the bowl. One of the most common myths is that eco programs are less powerful than other cycles, leading people to avoid selecting them when they have a full load that needs a deep clean. 

The fact: Sophie Lane, Product Training Manager at Miele, stated, "As part of the energy label system, eco programs on both washing machines and dishwashers must meet strict legislative requirements which are monitored in laboratories and hence result in a good performance in everyday use. On dishwashers from Miele, for example, smart water intake and optimized spray arms ensure that this is possible using less energy. 

Germany's consumer watchdog, Stiftung Warentest, confirms that even extreme soiling, such as baked-on oat flakes or dried-on Bolognese sauce, is removed in the Eco mode with its longer cycle time.

Myth 2: Eco programs take longer, so they use more energy

It seems obvious that more time = equals more energy; however, the opposite is actually true. Eco programs rely on a longer cycle length because they use less energy, so it takes more time to achieve the same level of cleanliness. It's easy to think that short cycles are the most energy-efficient, but actually, this often means your machine is working overtime to get the job done. 

The fact: Sophie Lane says, "Eco programs on both washing machines and dishwashers operate at reduced temperatures. However, to achieve the best results, longer cycle times are required. The reduced energy needed to heat water far offsets the energy required to power the drum over the extended cycle time or to circulate water through the system."

Myth 3: Eco programs take far too long

One of the downsides to eco washes is that they take longer to complete, but if you are putting laundry or dishes on and you don't need them urgently, then it's always a better option to choose. As they're using less energy, they have to run for longer to achieve the same level of cleanliness, so it's entirely worth the saving. 

The fact: "Eco programs indeed compensate for the energy-intensive heating of water through longer cycles, to allow longer exposure to detergents but it is still worth using them to save resources and money.  A Miele washing machine’s Eco cycle takes just under three hours, and a Miele dishwasher cycle in Eco mode is complete in less than four hours", says Sophie Lane. 

Myth 4: Frequent use of eco programs shortens the life cycle of machines

Dishwashers and washing machines are big investments, no matter which manufacturer you purchase from. This means that you'll want to keep hold of it for as long as possible and keep it in good working condition. The myth that using eco programs shortens the lifespan of your machine isn't true - any additional pressure from longer cycles will cause minimal damage, which Sophie has confirmed. 

The fact: "Any additional strain resulting from longer eco cycles is extremely moderate. Whichever cycles are preferred by the user, it’s advised to run an intensive hot program regularly on both the washing machine and dishwasher to remove residues and bacteria while keeping the appliance smelling fresh. The filters should also be cleaned regularly."

Holly Cockburn
Former Features Editor

Holly is the former Features Editor at Top Ten Reviews where she focused on creating informative, how-to advice. She has a degree in English Literature and previously worked as a copywriter at Howdens, specializing in kitchens and trend-led interiors. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her exploring the best London bars and brunch spots, or planning the next budget-friendly city break.