Trust me. You want them to be dirty.
By Lauren Piro
“To rinse or not to rinse? That is question,” says Carolyn Forte, director of the Cleaning Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. “And the answer is ‘not to rinse.'”
You should always scrape off food scraps before you wash plates, bowls, and utensils, but that’s the only step your dishwasher can’t handle. Here’s why need to back slowly away from the sink:
1. YOUR DISHES NEED TO BE DIRTY FOR THE DISHWASHER DETERGENT TO DO ITS JOB.
The makers of the dish detergent Cascade discourage customers from pre-washing or rinsing dishes because it actually inhibits the cleaner from working. “Enzymes in Cascade detergent are designed to attach themselves to food particles,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “Without food, the enzymes have nothing to latch onto, says P&G.”
In other words, your precious detergent just might rinse away before it has time to do anything if your dishes are gunk-free.
2. YOU WON’T GET YOUR DISHES ANY CLEANER IF YOU RINSE OR HAND-WASH THEM BEFORE YOU PUT THEM IN THE MACHINE.
Today’s new-fangled dishwashers are more savvy than what grandma might have owned. They have advanced sprayer technology and sensors that detect how dirty your dishes are, says Forte. And research proves that your extra rinsing efforts don’t help your dishes get any cleaner than your hard-working dishwasher alone.
3. PRE-RINSING AT THE SINK (AND WASHING DISHES BY HAND, FOR THAT MATTER) SERIOUSLY WASTES WATER AND ENERGY.
You waste 6,000 gallons per year if you insist on pre-rinsing, Consumer Reports says. And today’s energy-efficient dishwashers have your hand-washing game beat, too.
The National Resource Defense Council reports that the average modern dishwasher uses just 3 to 5 gallons of water per load, but the most efficient hand-washer will use 8 gallons. “Regular” hand-washers (you know, those of us who don’t operate like robots) typically use around 27 gallons of water and twice the amount of electricity per load.
The only time you might pre-rinse dishes is when you’re not going to run the dishwasher right away (leaving dirty dinnerware out could attract critters, and the mess might be more difficult to clean the longer you let it sit). But even then, you should let your dishwasher do the heavy-lifting, so you don’t waste water and energy.
“Simply load them in the dishwasher and run a ‘rinse only’ cycle,” says Forte.
4. IT’S A NEEDLESS TIME-SUCK — ESPECIALLY WHEN HAVE SO MANY OTHER THINGS TO DO.
We know, your mom taught you to rinse, and old habits die hard. But pre-rinsing is a task you can feel good about shirking.
And, if you do own a dishwasher, ditch the hand-washing habit, too. Using an Energy Star-rated dishwasher instead of scrubbing by hand can save you 230 hours — almost 10 days! — over the course of year. You really do have time to catch up on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, after all.