If you regularly use the dishwasher, you probably have a pretty simple routine that you follow: Wash plates and utensils to remove chunks of food residue, place the dinnerware into the dishwasher, add dishwasher liquid, and press start. It’s such an ordinary, monotonous process that you can probably do it in your sleep. But that process we’re so used to mindlessly following may not actually be the correct way to get your dishes sparkling clean.
“Believe it or not, it’s actually more beneficial to not rinse your dishes before putting them into the dishwasher,” Morgan Brashear, a Cascade scientist with Procter and Gamble, told Today Home.
That’s because most modern-day dishwashers have sensors that help the machine determine how long of a cycle to run, based on how dirty the dishes are. Even if you select a specific setting before the cycle, such as “normal” or “pots and pans,” the length of the cleaning cycle and the temperature of the water are set by what the sensor detects. If you don’t rinse off your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, the dishwasher will detect the presence of food residue coming off during the pre-wash, and the dishwasher will be more thorough in cleaning your dishes.
However, if the only food residue still remaining on your dishes is some hard crusty cheese that doesn’t rinse off easily, the dishwasher won’t detect food, and the cycle will be shorter and less effective. In fact, this might explain why you sometimes open up your dishwasher to find that there’s still residue left on that casserole dish.
Keep in mind that while rinsing your dishes too thoroughly before putting them in the dishwasher may not be a great habit, it’s also true that too much solid food residue can be hard for your dishwasher to tackle. Gunk can get stuck in the system, especially if your dishwasher doesn’t have a filter or internal garbage disposal.
Your best bet is to scrape off large food chunks that still remain on your dishes, but don’t feel the need to rinse them thoroughly in the sink. According to Consumer Reports, if you bought your dishwasher for more than $500 during the last five years, it should be more than capable of giving your dinnerware a thorough clean.
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