If you give your plates and bowls a quick rinse before sticking them in the dishwasher, you may be surprised (and disgusted) to learn that it doesn’t make them any cleaner. In fact, in many cases, it does the opposite. MyRecipes.com recently provided a helpful refresher on how to use your dishwasher the right way, and the good news is that it doesn’t involve any extra work beforehand.
One of the arguments against pre-rinsing is that certain detergents are designed to cling to food particles, as the Cascade detergent brand informed The Wall Street Journal in 2015. Without a surface to stick to, your dishes won’t get as squeaky clean.
Consumer Reports offers another explanation. According to the product-testing magazine, newer dishwashers—those purchased within the last five years or so—won’t wash your dishes for very long if the sensors in the machine don’t detect much dirt in the water. “When that happens, the dishwasher gives them just a light wash, and items come out less than sparkling,” Consumer Reports's Ed Perratore wrote in 2016. “To avoid that lackluster result, don’t rinse; just scrape off bits of loose food.”
There’s also a major environmental factor to consider. One mind-blogging statistic from Consumer Reports states that the average person wastes 6000 gallons of water a year by pre-rinsing. Most dishwasher machines use just 3 to 5 gallons of water per load, while the average person uses about 27 gallons when washing dishes by hand, according to The National Resource Defense Council.
If you need another reason to give up your rinsing habit, just think of all the time you’ll save by not doing it. Sure, you can still scrape off big chunks of excess food or soak your egg yolk-stained plates in hot water first, but there’s no reason to rinse every single item before loading your dishwasher.
So what are you going to do with all that extra free time? For one, you could start by reading our list of 14 other life hacks to make doing the dishes a whole lot easier. After all, the less time spent doing chores, the better off you'll be.