On New Year’s Day our dishwasher, with a loud crash, finally died its last death. Up until this point, the acrylic coated metal racks of our 1970s KitchenAid dishwasher were being held up by zip ties. My mother was the only person in our household gentle enough to be trusted to load and unload cups from the top rack.

Finally, after about two years of zip-tie dependence, the top rack collapsed. My father looked into replacing the racks, but to no one’s surprise, it’s not easy to find replacement parts for a 45-year-old appliance.

We were finally forced to reckon with the reality that we needed a new dishwasher. The decision for my parents was pretty easy, for a variety of reasons there isn’t much creativity in the home appliance styles anymore. Most dishwashers look about the same with the color options of white, black, or steel.

I asked the two guys who were installing our chosen white dishwasher what they think of the quality. They answered that all dishwashers are about the same today, and that they’ve heard plenty of complaints about cycle length. “The trick is to use the turbo-wash every time—that’s how you’ll get a normal cycle,” they informed me, “We don’t recommend any one uses the normal cycle unless the dishes are basically clean. It also takes longer.”

So, why isn’t the normal setting good enough?

Because the government wants to protect us from clean dishes, of course. Jokes aside, the regulations, which increased cycle time and decreased quality of wash, were intended to lower energy and water use.

The Department of Energy noticed the inefficient outcomes of existing regulations. The agency noted in 2016 that “[t]o help compensate for the negative impact on cleaning performance associated with decreasing water use and water temperature, manufacturers will typically increase the cycle time.”

The Trump administration, hearing consumer complaints, altered regulations to allow for cycle quality to improve, a decision which was quickly rolled back by the Biden Administration.

Fortunately, this month the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that DOE regulators had failed to consider whether their regulations aimed at saving energy would actually work. Intuitively, if a dishwasher doesn’t wash dishes well, then people will simply have to scrub them by hand increasing the amount of water used.

This ruling forced the agency back to the drawing board. Hopefully, they will focus on achievable standards that don’t kneecap functionality for American families and burden manufacturers with irrational demands for redesigns. To prevent more politically contentious energy efficacy standards like this in the future, Congress should look to sunset or narrow DOE’s standard setting authority so that consumers are protected from the threat of regulatory busybodies.

Households deserve appliances that are worth the investment and companies should be allowed to sell products they know work well.