If you’re taking the time to rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, we’ve got some pretty great news: you’re doing it all wrong, and you can stop that time and water wasting practice right now.
No, seriously. Despite whatever dishwashing quirks you might have inherited from your childhood home or picked up along the way in your adventures in adulthood, you can stop pre-rinsing your dishes right now. Why? Because it’s inefficient and terrible for your dishes.
First, dishwashing detergents are designed to work in the presence of food. The companies that make them presume that they are being used to wash dirty dishes: dishes with residual food, oils, and other organic matter. The compounds in the detergent need those organic materials to attach to and work properly.
Second, and closely related to the first point, if the detergent has insufficient organic material to interact with it can damage your dishes, glasses, and flatware. One of the causes of cloudy etched glasses is harsh detergents acting on the surface of the glass instead of the food residue in the washer.
Third—and particularly important if you have a newer dishwasher—if you clean the dishes too well before you put them into the dishwasher, the wash will be cut short. Why? The sensors in many new dishwashers that detect how clean or dirty the wash water is will detect that the water is clean, as it would be towards the end of a cycle, and cut the wash cycle short.
Finally, it’s a waste of water. Dishwashers are significantly more efficient than hand washing dishes. Even just pre-rinsing your dishes will most likely use more water than the entire dishwasher cycle (much in the same way that hand washing your clothes would use more water than a high-efficiency washing machine would). Save the water for the dishwasher.
So skip the hassle of pre-rinsing your dishes before loading the water. It’s hurting more than it’s helping and it’s a waste of time and water.