Don’t Clean Dishes Before Putting Them In The Dishwasher

Don’t Clean Dishes Before Putting Them In The Dishwasher

For many, it’s a common sense thing, based on the name of the appliance itself. But those who do scrub down dishes before loading them in the dishwasher waste water and electricity, and may harm their more delicate items.

Even if you think having cleaner dishes in the dishwasher might make the device run more efficiently and give you spic-and-span results, you’re still wasting water, electricity, and detergent, as one appliance design consultant explains. Worst of all, one “senior dishwasher design engineer” (and, hey, who better to turn to?) says trying to beat your diswasher at its own game can lead to damage:

“Dishwasher detergent aggressively goes after food,” Mr. Edwards said, “and if you don’t have food soil in the unit, it attacks the glasses, and they get cloudy,” a process known as etching that can cause permanent damage.

The Q&A article this advice comes from has (no pun intended) loads more advice on how to get a better, more efficient clean from your dishwasher. Never load bowls upright, for example, because they’ll carry dirty water between loads, and, in most cases, you don’t need heat drying or the pots & pans cycle. Why isn’t my dishwasher cleaning my dishes? [New York Times via Consumerist]


  • dmccall says: “I also just want to make sure nobody misconstrues earlier comments on “wasting” water. You may be wasting money on your water bill, but as far as the environment goes, water is in a closed cycle. Down the drain is not bad for the environmnet.”

    I have to disagree. Any water used in the house must go to be processed somewhere; and must also be replaced by further amounts of water that have been processed. This processing uses energy, and using energy is bad for the environment (since we have so few environmentally kind ways of generating it); and of course the more house-polluted water we generate, the more chance of some of those lovely detergents and other chemicals making it into the environment. Also, if you happen to be in an area of low rainfall / drought, such as Melbourne, where I live, you want to use as little of the water from your water storage as possible. Melbourne’s reservoirs are currently at just over 25% full, and they’re dropping every day because we’re not getting any rainfall to refill them.

    So, whilst it is true that the total amount of water on the planet is in a closed loop, it is not true that the water in your local area is in a closed loop, thus “wasting water” is a very real thing, that people should avoid if they can.

  • I came here trying to find out if it is true that “dishes get cleaner when you don’t rinse them because the soap needs something to work against.” It always sounded like an urban legend to me.

    The comment about glasses getting etched if you pre-rinse your dishes tells me that we should just use less soap. Then the smaller amount of soap would work on the smaller amount of food deposits, and all would be well. Less wasteful all around, right?

  • Yeah I agree with you Claire, it does not make much sense to not prewash because the glasses will get etched if you do! And you can worry about wasting water, but the environmentalist’s whole “save the water” campaign turns into dead silence when it comes to draining the Great Lakes.

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