When removing existing power cord from old dishwasher, I "assumed" that it would have the 3 colors indicated. After pulling it out, I realized that there was a green wire & two grey wires with no discernible difference between them. Why would they do that? Now if I line up the cord based on facing the prongs, which one would be white & which black? for instance, left white, right black or visa versa?


  • 1
    The ground side of the cord will be striated. But please post a picture just to be sure.
    – Kris
    Aug 9, 2015 at 13:02

2 Answers 2


Use a multimeter set to test continuity or resistance. Touch one probe to a prong on the plug, and the other to one to the wires. If you get a reading, it means the prong you're touching is connected to the wire you're touching. Label the wires as you locate them.

NOTE: Do the testing with the cord not connected to anything.

Or go to the local hardware store, and pick up a new cord.


The green wire is obviously the ground, and the two grey wires will be your conductors.

Electrically, as far as a connected load is concerned on an AC circuit, there is no difference between the "hot" and "neutral" conductors (as in none whatsoever).

Neutral Wire Facts and Mythology (Electrical Engineering Times)

EDIT: If the plug is grounded or "polarized" (neutral blade is bigger than the hot blade), and if the current conducting wires in your dishwasher are different colors, you should wire the "hot" and "neutral" sides of the plug to the corresponding wires in the dishwasher, because the dishwasher might not have a double-pole power switch. Despite some industry standards to the contrary, the equipment may be wired internally so that it is not entirely safe if the conductors are switched (if the equipment has a built-in dependency on switching the "hot" conductor rather than the "neutral" to ensure safety, for example if it uses a single-pole switch instead of a very slightly more expensive double-pole switch). A dishwasher with a single-pole power switch seems unlikely, to me, or at the very least seems like a bad idea. But that doesn't mean somebody hasn't done it.

Still, the distinctions we keep making in the U.S. between hot and neutral are primarily a product of two things:

  1. We still use old-school Edison-style light sockets, where it's a bad idea to energize the threads in the socket since they're so much easier to touch (shock hazard) than the contact at the bottom of the socket.

  2. With switched loads in general, if you switch the return leg of the circuit (the grounded/neutral leg) instead of the "hot" leg, you leave the outlet or attached equipment energized even with the switches turned off. Again, that's a shock hazard. This is solved inside an appliance or another piece of equipment by the simple use of a double-pole switch that breaks both conductors, rather than a cheap single-pole switch which only breaks one conductor.

In general, with electrical as with so many things, the Principle of Least Surprise (i.e. common sense) should be a guiding factor. ;-)

But for the actual attached device itself, "hot" and "neutral" are totally interchangeable. In fact even sophisticated computer equipment can't even tell the conductors apart electrically. So those two gray conductors in the cord are your hot and neutral and the dishwasher functions the same whichever way you wire them up.

But if your dishwasher has single-pole power switch, you want to pay attention to the "polarity" issue.


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