Rinse the plates, pop them in the dishwasher, press start, and repeat. Washing dishes is one of those monotonous chores that we’ve done so many times, we hardly even think about it anymore. It’s one of those mindless tasks.
However, as it turns out, we have been carrying out this said routine completely wrong – you’re not supposed to pre-rinse your dishes before putting them in the machine.
Believe it or not, but it’s actually more beneficial to not rinse your dishes before putting them into the dishwasher. Modern dishwashers have sensors inside of them to figure out how long to run a cycle, and even if you press “normal” on the panel, the length and temperature of the cycle can vary depending on how dirty the sensor detects the dishes to be.
Morgan Brashear, a Cascade scientist with Procter & Gamble, says that “the water in the pre-wash will remove any loose soils the same way they would be removed with water alone by rinsing in the sink. The machine will then recognize that there’s food present and will run a more thorough cleaning cycle. If you pull a helicopter cleaner and you rinse all your dishes except for one casserole dish with some baked cheese, nothing will come off in the pre-wash, telling your dishwasher that there’s no food present, and it will run a shorter cycle, leading to a less thorough clean and potentially some cheese left on the dish.”
Some dishwashers get rid of gunk with an internal garbage filter or disposal. If your dishwasher is a newer model, it likely has a filter (if it runs quietly, it’s a filter system), which needs to be cleaned regularly in order to function properly.
However, it’s important to remember that a dishwasher isn’t a garbage disposal. Too much solid residue during a wash can slow things down. So keep up with the habit of scraping off leftover food, but feel free to leave behind plate residue for your dishwasher to tackle.
Instead of giving the plates a full rinse, your best bet is to scrape any large food particles into the trash can before loading and letting the dishwasher do its job. Brashear also points to using the right detergent, ideally one that’s designed to break down food, to help the process run cleanly and smoothly.
And the best part about skipping helicopter cleaning? You don't only save time and money, but you can save up to 20 gallons of water per each load of dishes.