Everyone has their own style when it comes to loading their dishwasher. Maybe you prefer coffee mugs all stacked on the left side of your upper rack, or perhaps you go rogue and let them sit among the plates on the bottom. We aren’t here to judge you either way, but if you are also rinsing every smudge and crumb off of those items before loading them into the machine, we are telling you once and for all: Cut it out!
Seriously, we understand the instinct to want your kitchenware to shine their brightest by giving them a good rinse down before putting them in the dishwasher, but that could actually be doing more harm than good. Instead of doubling up on scrubbing and sanitizing, you’re more likely wasting your own energy — and hiking up your water bill — for no reason.
Rinsing-sticklers out there may find this hard to believe, but it’s true. Most modern dishwashers are designed to detect how much gunk is left on your dishes in order to determine how long they should run and how much water they should use. “If the sensor detects little or no debris, it gives the dishes a lighter wash than you may have expected, leaving dishes and glassware with bits of food stuck to them,” Consumer Reports explains.
That doesn’t mean you should leave huge blobs of food on your plates before loading up. Remember that commercial from awhile back that showed a woman taking the time to carefully frost a cake, then stick it directly into the dishwasher and find a perfectly sparkling plate after running the whole thing through the cycle? Yeah, we don’t recommend doing anything like that. Instead, just scrape off any major leftovers, but leave smaller smudges and crumbs alone before putting items in the machine.
Another reason to skip pre-washing or rinsing your dishes? The detergent you rely on — like Cascade Complete, one of Consumer Report’s highest rated options ($14.12, Amazon) — uses enzymes that seek out proteins and starches to sweep away. Without those present for the detergent to cling to and absorb, you’re basically just sticking your dishes in a brief water bath and throwing the money you spent on the detergent down the drain. You’re also wasting your hard earned cash on all the water you’re using to rinse things off in the sink (anywhere from 1.7 to 6 gallons per minute, again according to Consumer Report) and also adding to your energy bill to make that water hot. Just stick it in the machine and let it do its job!
Now there’s no need to fight with your loved ones who leave dirty dishes in the sink — unless it was their turn to load the washer...
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