Mom Was Wrong: You Don't Need to Pre-Rinse Dishes for the Dishwasher

Mom Was Wrong: You Don't Need to Pre-Rinse Dishes for the Dishwasher

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Lisa Freedman
Apr 11, 2017
(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

If you want to start spending less time cleaning the kitchen and still get the same results — or even better results — we have some good news for you. Ready?

There is no reason to pre-rinse your dirty dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. In fact, there are a few reasons why you shouldn't. (You should still scrape off leftover food; you just don't need to run dishes under the faucet.)

1. It makes your dishwasher detergent less effective.

Dishwasher detergent works by attaching to the food particles on your dirty dishes. If there's nothing for the soap to grab onto, it can't do its job. Not only will the wash cycle be less effective, but you're also essentially pouring expensive detergent down the drain.

2. It's confusing to your dishwasher.

Newer dishwashers often have fancy sensors that check to see how much water it needs to use and how long the cycle should be in order to get the dishes clean. If the sensor doesn't have much to detect, it will give a lighter wash, which could result in still-dirty dishes.

3. It's a waste of water — and time.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that most dishwashers in the Energy Start program use an average of four to six gallons per load, depending on the model and wash cycle you use. That's not terrible (considering a European study found that hand-washing 12 place settings uses an average of 27 gallons), but that's still a decent amount of water.

Why would you want to add to the total — especially now that you know points one and two? It would just be a waste of time.

Do you pre-rinse your dishes before you load them? Have we changed your mind?

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