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Do you Pre Rinse dishes for your Dish Washer? [Moved from Not About Food board]

  • r

I'm less concerned about the plates coming out clean than I am about what happens to all the food and grime that gets washed off of the plates. Right now I pass the dishes under the faucet for quick rinse to get any big food residue off then when I'm done I turn on the garbage disposal. I worry that if I don't pre rinse that all that debris will clog something up in the dishwasher or the pipes. What is your experience?

If it matters, I have a GE Triton Dishwasher that was here when I bought the house and don't have an owner's manual for it.

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  1. I brush off the food bits, but I don't pre-rinse the dishes. Then again, I usually wash dishes by hand (use the dishwasher maybe 20% of the time). I just figure that if I'm going to pre-rinse, I might as well wash by hand. The dishwasher is supposed to make it easier for me, but pre-rinsing precludes that!

    1. Rick, all I did was Google "GE Triton dishwasher manual" and learned the following: to order a manual for your machine - or get your questions answered - call 1.800.626.2005. The GE hotline will need your model number.

      1. Of course I toss out any big chunks, but I dont rinse anything. If the dog doesn't manage to lick the plate clean, my dishwasher is linked straight to my disposal so everything gets disposed of regardless of the size. I am a "take a drink of water, cup goes in the dishwasher girl", freakishly hot water, powerballs and anytime there is any rubbermaid going in that may stain or be greasy it gets a hit of 409. Kitchen scissors I use for poultry/meat/whatnot are rinsed in boiling water and then hit with the clorox clean up before they hit the silverware basket.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chelleyd01

          With your kitchen scissors regimine you have officially surpassed me as one-who-worries-about-food-related germs. I am humbled! Actual boiling water? Wow. (And I mean that in the "oh I can totally relate, mabye I should be doing that" kind of way.)

        2. There is no extra effort in pre-rinsing since jfood is placing the stuff from the plates down the disposal. So yes, jfood does pre-rince. When jfood's dishes come out of the DW they are very clean and that's the way he likes it.

          4 Replies
          1. re: jfood

            jfood, I'm with you on this one. I always pre-rinse my dishes before I put them in the DW and I don't put pots or pans in the DW. I don't consider it extra work. I pre-rinse for two reasons, one is that I think it's GROSS to put dishes caked with food into the DW, whether I'm washing them the same day or not. The other reason I pre-rinse is that it's just my husband and I and it can take me 3-4 days to fill up the DW. I don't know what happens to DW's that get clogged with food, it can't be good for them. I also use the Jet Dry DW cleaner every three or so months.

            1. re: Axalady

              Mr OCAnn bought me a DishDrawer for Christmas, so I run the DW daily (or every other day now). I don't pre-rinse by hand; however, I'll use the DW's pre-rinse cycle if there's a chance that something might get caked on before I run the DW the following day.

              The DishDrawer (which I absolutely love!) has a strainer for big food chunks...I clean this out once/wk.

              1. re: OCAnn

                Would you mind telling me which DW you bought?

          2. I actually pre-rinse them to the point that they are actually thoroughly washed!! I've had people open the dishwasher and assume that they were clean and ready to put away. I like to make sure that they are really clean. If i don't wash them well, I sometimes find food caked on them, and then the intense heat of the dryer just welds the food residue on them!

            5 Replies
            1. re: Bite Me

              I am the same way! It comes from my mom. Even though I have a nice new dishwasher, I scrub everything before it hits the wash. I hate having dirty silverware or seeing a dried milk ring in my cup, or thinking about the noodles from a bowl floating around.

              Part of this is probably due to the fact that I am unmarried with no kids. I don't use a ton of dishes so my dishwasher will usually go 3 or so days without being run. If food sits that long it is not gonna come off....it might be different if I had a family and needed to run it once or twice a day.

              1. re: KariAnneATL

                Can I ask what might be a stupid question: why use the dishwasher at all? If you scrub everything clean, why run it through the dishwasher?

                1. re: curiousbaker

                  I do the same thing and still use my DW. The main reason is that instead of having to wash AND dry them all at the same time, I put them through the DW to sterilize them and dry them. (My DW is pretty old, but it still just uses the heat residue to dry the dishes so no extra energy is used.)

                  1. re: flourgirl

                    Huh. I never thought about that - mostly because I hardly ever dry my dishes - just stack them up in the drying rack, and let nature take its course. Of course, that means leaving the dish rack full of dishes out in plain sight, and having to wait to put dishes away. But I'm not exactly the world's most amazing housekeeper, so it doesn't bother me.

                    1. re: curiousbaker

                      I'm not getting any awards for my housekeeping skills either. I almost always have stuff stacked in the dish drainer - stuff that I didn't want to put in the DW and haven't gotten around to putting away yet. There's always something more fun to do, like play with my little boy. :)

            2. We pre-rinse, largely because it will be days before we actually run the DW. It's just the two of us and we run it less than once a week. Not rinsing means dried-up stuck-on food that leaves residue even after the DW does its job.

              We also air dry rather than expend the extra electricity to run the dry cycle.

              3 Replies
              1. re: mojoeater

                I also rinse before loading dishwasher just because it seems like the right thing to do. But I think dishwashers sold today have a built in garburator to take care of most solid residue.

                1. re: mexivilla

                  mexivilla, that is what our dishwasher repair man told me about the dishwasher, that it had a type of garbage disposal in it, so not to worry about rinsing it well. I still do on certain things that are really sticky, but I don't do it to excess.

                  Another hint he gave me was to stop using the heavy wash cycle. If you use the normal wash and the Hi-temp water option, you use less water and it is as effective, and it truly is! I also use the air dry option. I want to save money wherever I can!

                2. re: mojoeater

                  Same here, mojoeater--we run our DW only once a week as well, so I rinse everything first. If something like egg yolk is left to sit on a plate for any length of time, it doesn't come off in the DW, even if I use the extra hot, heavy duty cycle.

                3. I dont do dishes(I am the cook), but I believe I see my wife rinsing the dishes while I am taking care of the baby, or sitting on the couch after a meal while she cleans up the kitchen. ; - )

                  1. I just moved in with my boyfriend. On our list of "must-haves" for the new apartment, I had "walking distances to stores and restaurants and a workable kitchen, he had "dishwasher." Well, we found a great place without a dishwasher, and we decided to take it. I've never had a dishwasher, but I was afraid he was going to be miserable washing by hand, so we invested in a portable dishwasher. Bloody useless. You scrape, you rinse - by the time you've done that, washing is just one tiny follow-up step. The truly annoying things to wash - the really pig pots and pans - don't fit in the dishwasher anyway. I don't see the point. I've started washing every thing by hand again because it just seems easier.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: curiousbaker

                      For many of us with small households, we tend to look on the dishwasher as "The Dirty Dish Storage Cabinet". As a self-proclaimed lazy girl, I'm happy to stash a couple of plates, silverware & glasses in there to wait for a full load - often days in the making. Granted, I have more plates than people so doing without dishes is never a pronblem. The big stuff, pots & pans etc. get washed as used. It's the other odd bits that I'm grateful to get out of the way.

                      1. re: Sherri

                        Yes, that's the same here. There are only three of us and I don't run the dishwasher every day. So I wash them as I go, stick them in the DW, run the DW when there is a full load (mostly to sterilize and just get them REALLY clean) and out them away. I think it's much easier than washing and drying them by hand all at the same time.

                      2. re: curiousbaker

                        curious, Is your portable a very small one? Our first apt. didn't have a dishwasher and it was a tiny kitchen, so our portable was about 18" wide. It did a fine job, but because of size I still had to do a lot of hand washing.

                        Now we live in an older house, and would have to totally redo our entire kitchen to get a built in, so we still have a portable (larger than the other), and it is a true workhorse! I could not be happier with it, and it is so quiet that you have to look at the lights to make sure it's on. Sorry yours is so useless.

                      3. I don't rinse, unless it's something that's going to start to stink before the next wash (which usually happens about every third day in our household). Our dishwasher has a built-in disposal-type grinder, and as long as the dishes are loaded properly (that is, some room for the spray to get to each cup, glass, and dish), we never have a problem with residue. I would guess that the water from the wash and rinse cycles is more than enough to clear the debris from the pipes. We have a water softener, too, so that may make a difference in the dishwasher's effectiveness.

                        1. My $0.02: I have a busy household with three kids ages six and under so my dishwasher runs at least daily and usually twice on Sundays (extended-family dinner) and I scrape but don't rinse. I think detergent quality makes a difference. I was using the Cascade gel packs and never had a problem with residue. Switched to Sunlight packs because they were sooo much less expensive than the Cascade...*ack* Another case of "you get what you pay for." As soon as we finish the Sunlight I'm switching back.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: maplesugar

                            If you had my crappy old dishwasher , you'd pre-rinse in scalding hot water too ...

                          2. I rinse because otherwise the food ends up in the filter. I'd rather rinse than clean a disgusting filter. But I only rinse off the solid matter, not to the point where the dish looks clean.

                            1. I pre-rinse but my wife doesn't. The dishes I load come out completely clean. The dishes she loads sometimes have little, baked-on spots from the super hot water, I guess.

                              1. I do not believe in pre rinsing but do dump any big lose stuff down the disposal. We run ours just once a week and the dishes come out clean. Many new dishwashers have sensors that measure the turbidity(i think that is the term) of the water so that if the water is clear the machine does not work as hard. We are in a drought situation and we do as much as possible to conserve water. Rinsing is generally a waste. Also when our DW was busted for about a month and I was handwashing ALL our dishes, the water bill jumped about 10%, SO DWs do save water.

                                1. We do this in our house too! Definitely worth getting the larger pieces off first. I know it sounds crazy but it still doesn't take as long as if you sat there scrubbing!

                                  1. We pre-rinse almost everything. It keeps the dishwasher's work more efficient.

                                    1. I didnt use to pre-rinse. Last week, my new Bosch stopped working. I couldnt clear what was obviously a jam. A pistachio shell was trapped in the pump. The dishwasher repair man cleared it. He charged me £50 - cash!

                                      I now pre-rinse!

                                      1. I cook, but on the occassion where I also clean I only rinse very big chunks. BF does the almost full wash thing though. I don't understand, but I don't critique it. He doesn't tell me how to cook the meal, I won't tell him how to wash the dishes. I am just happy he does them.

                                        1. Here's the lowdown: unless you are extremely efficient at hand washing, a modern dishwasher will use less water. You will ruin this efficiency by pre-rinsing. :-) Indeed, if your dishwasher does not get the dishes clean without pre-rinsing, even after they have sat for a few days, you should use that as an excuse to get a new one. And if you are handwashing and like the idea of conservation, you can use that as an excuse to get one as well. ;-) A modern dishwasher, even a low-end one, should clean just fine without pre-rinsing. Scraping, yes. You don't want to just dump leftover food into the machine, but you shouldn't have to waste water on rinsing it. If you don't run the dishwasher for a few days, some odor may build up (won't affect the room at all, just when you open the dishwasher), but the machine should still be able to handle cleaning it. If it really gets to be several days, you can run a "rinse and hold" cycle after a couple days which just sprays everything for a few minutes. Would be more efficient than rinsing everything under the faucet beforehand.

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: CrazyOne

                                            Thank you, not-so-CrazyOne, I was glad to see the comparison with hand dishwashing and the impact the rinse factor has on the 'efficiency'. At a time when we all have to begin being more mindful of our environmental footprint, I was glad to see that point enter the discussion. In this case, I suspect that 'efficiency' also means less negative impact on our energy supply, but I don't know for sure. Is anyone aware of a study of which is less stressful for the environment? does the size of household make an impactn (i.e.washing dishes once a day versus dishwasher once every three days might be typical for a couple and save energy, but if you have 4 kids? what about water temperature?

                                            1. re: LJS

                                              http://www.grist.org/advice/ask/2003/...
                                              I've read quite a few articles about dishwashing, and the final paragraph of the above seems to sum it up - as long as you are using a newer, energy efficient machine and running full loads, generally it's more efficient and more environmentally sound to use the machine. I doubt the size of household makes much of a difference, but pre-rinsing obviously does - if you "wash" the dishes before you put them through the dishwasher, you'll use more water, energy for heating the water and so on. Also, if you wash dishes by hand, there are more and less efficient ways to do so. Running the water constantly is the bad way. The best way, the way my grandmother did it requires a double sink. You fill one sink with soapy water and put a dishrack in the second. Each dish gets lifted from the soaking water, scrubbed, then place into the rack. AT the end, the rack is sprayed down.

                                              Environmentally, you should also look at the detergent - it's more important to get eco-friendly dishwasher detergent than handwashing detergent. http://www.grist.org/advice/ask/2006/...

                                              1. re: curiousbaker

                                                Thank you, very useful info and links...

                                                1. re: curiousbaker

                                                  Yes, but so far, I haven't had good luck with the phosphate free eco friendly stuff. After following the advice of a (usually pretty ecologically conscious) friend to try the "good stuff", we stopped having problems with dish residue (yes, we have a relatively modern dishwasher).

                                                  I grew up having the "pre-wash" thing drummed into me, but these days, I'm trying to avoid it. I don't see the point of using the dishwasher at all if you're going to pre-wash.

                                                  We are a household of 2, so much of the time, we just do dishes by hand... it's nice to have the dishwasher for those occasions where the dishes build up or when we have guests, though.

                                                  Some dishwashers have a feature to do a quick rinse. The manual on ours advises running this if you're not planning on running a full load right after partially loading the dishwasher - maybe one way to avoid odor and pest problems (we've definitely found bugs in our dw after leaving food in there).

                                                  1. re: will47

                                                    RE: "Yes, but so far, I haven't had good luck with the phosphate free eco friendly stuff. After following the advice of a (usually pretty ecologically conscious) friend to try the "good stuff", we stopped having problems with dish residue (yes, we have a relatively modern dishwasher)."

                                                    Sorry, what is the 'good stuff' and is it eco friendly? I switched to ecover (eco friendly D/W powder that I tk is also phosphate-free) and my D/W now leaves my dishes with powder/cloudy residue, which never happened with plain Cascade.

                                                    Also looking for a powder that is gentle on dishes (e.g., won't etch bone china and porcelain), in addition to being more environmentally friendly.

                                                    Couldn't tell from your post if you still have problems w dish residue, and if not, what detergent you're using.

                                                    Thanks in advance!

                                                    1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                      By "good stuff" I mean phosphates. Switching to Cascade (with phosphates) produces clean dishes almost all the time, regardless of whether we pre-rinse. Using "7th generation" brand gel had much less effective results.

                                                      1. re: will47

                                                        Ok, we've had a consistent experience - only in reverse direction (I went from Cascade >> ecover/phosphate free and therefore from sparkling clean dishes to cloudy/powdery ones; same dishes, same D/W).

                                                        Heard rumors (?) that all D/W detergents would be required to go phosphate free within some designated time period - not sure if true or not.

                                                        1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                          So far, have been doing well with Finish Powerball Tabs. They have no phosphates and are quite effective. No complaints so far.

                                              2. re: CrazyOne

                                                There was a study a few years ago that suggested running a dishwasher that is only about 1/2 full uses less water than washing the same amount of dishes by hand. We are a 2-person household but if the dishwasher is 1/2 full, I run it, using the energy saver/ no dry option. If, its under 1/2 full, I hand wash those dishes I will want in the interim (e.g., the coffee pot, a favorite saucepan) and let the rest accumulate. As to pre-rinsing, as we have a garbage disposal, I tend to run the dishes under the water while the disposal is on, but I don't do any scrubbing or serious pre-washing. There are certain things, like starchy rice, that stick unless aggressively pre-rinsed. For those pots, I wash by hand.

                                              3. Unfortunately, my apartment's appliances are terrible and if I don't pre-rinse, they are still not completely clean... mainly silverware and glasses. Which disgusts me, and this is even if I pre-rinse everything. I just might as well hand-wash everything!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Erinmck

                                                  Erinmck, that's me too. After quite a few years of living in very nice but not luxerious apartments (in Minneapolis, Chicago and Houston), I can honestly say I've never had a dishwasher that accomplishes much as far as cleaning the dishes goes. Dishes go in dirty, they come out dirty and occasionaly manage to splatter everything around them with whatever grime is covering them. So I prewash and as others have said, basically use the dishwasher as a sterilizer and place to let the dishes dry.

                                                  I have friends and family who possess high end Bosch and equivalent dishwashers, and I have witnessed the miracle of filthy dishes placed in the dish washer and coming out an hour later absolutely spotless (and without the tornado like sound most of my dishwashers have produced). Once I have a home to put an expensively purchased dishwasher, I will free myself from the tirrany of prewashing!

                                                2. We clean our dishes first, partly because we don't run a load every night, and so the debris won't get dried on, and we just don't want dirty stuff hanging around for days.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Betty

                                                    If I am not going to run a load until the next day, I use the rinse/hold cycle.

                                                  2. We are slack, slack, slackers about what goes into the dishwasher. Crusties and stray spaghetti noodles are a-ok. Something magic must happen to it all, since it has never plugged, knock on wood. My mother-in-law is the exact opposite -- when I open her dishwasher I can't tell if the dishes are clean or "dirty" because she pre-washes them so thoroughly. My dad on the other hand has been known to stop the washer seconds before the cycle is over to throw one more thing in. (eek!)

                                                    1. Our water is so hard that even with the water softener and our Bosch dishwasher, it is necessary to thoroughly rinse the dishes before they go in the dishwasher. I've had people ask me why I bother running it at all, but it does sanitize the dishes and gives them a place to dry thoroughly before I put them away. I have a very small kitchen and limited counter space.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: mercyteapot

                                                        I live in an area with extremely hard water too, and I have a Bosch, and I never pre-rinse. You should check to see if the holes on the jets are clogged with food residue. That can be a problem with some of the Bosch machines.

                                                      2. I never pre-rinse. Scrape off the big pieces and put them in. Put in dirty pots and pans, too. Everything comes out clean 99% of the time. The one food that is a problem is egg, so I will usually presoak a pan that has egg on it. This is not an expensive upscale dishwasher, just a Maytag about 10 years old. Dishwasher supposedly has some type of disposal built in that will handle small scraps of food. I think 90% of getting the dishes to come out clean is loading the washer correctly. I've seen people load dishwashers in ways that make no sense --- put some things in over one another so that water can barely get to them and then they wonder why they don't come out clean.

                                                        1. I never pre-rinse. In fact, my dishwasher manual specifically said "do not pre-rinse, just scrape." I have a Miele which is extremely energy efficient, and using the top-solo cycle only uses 3.5 gallons of water - far less than I would use to rinse. I LOVE my dishwasher (although it doesn't look anywhere nearly as fancy as the ones on this webpage) http://www.miele.com/usa/dishwashers/...

                                                          1. I wash mine before I put them in the D/W. My late husband used to say they were so clean when they went into the D/W before they were run through that you could re-use them the way they were and he actually did that at times (and so do I). They get cleaner that way.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: RevImmigrant

                                                              Thanks to all who have commented. I now only scrape unless it's something really stickey like oatmeal or if I have pieces of rice on the plate I rinse. No problems with dirty dishes so far. I'm using those Cascade 2-in-1 packets.

                                                              1. re: Rick

                                                                I just saw a commercial for the upsacle Maytag that claims you need not remove ANY food from plates (except maybe bones) because the DW has a high-performance garbage disposal. Anyone have experience with this?

                                                                1. re: RichardCrystal

                                                                  I don't know about the Maytag, but I have a couple friend's with nicer Bosch models and everything that goes in comes out clean, even ridiculous stuff like day old dried oatmeal and the like. After a doggie door, one of these magical contraptions is at the top of my list for wanting to get out of an apartment.

                                                                  1. re: RichardCrystal

                                                                    I have a not so upscale Whirlpool and it has the same feature. Of course I can't put bones in there but it grinds up everything else. And the dishes come out very clean.

                                                              2. No. I just scrape the big pieces of food off and load the dishes. The key is not to block the water flow with too many things to clean, and to have a good dishwasher. If I wanted to wash dishes by hand, I would.

                                                                There are two exceptions to my rule: Bowls containing oatmeal, because it turns into mortar, and any bowl used for breadcrumbs into which an egg-washed item was dipped. The egg and breadcrumb combination can use a light soak. However, my dishwasher has gotten both of these off plates without a rinse. Bosch.

                                                                1. I recall reading somewhere that with enzymes in your dishwashing detergent, you are actually better off not rinsing, since the enzymes (which should digest the food residue) have nothing to "eat" if the dishes are already clean, and accordingly can damage the dishware glazing instead. Of course I can't seem to substantiate this recollection - has anyone else heard of this?

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. I will not waste water to pre-rinse, it makes no sense to me. I have an older dishwasher (and cheap, I rent), and it seems that when you find a good detergent for your machine, there is no need for pre-rinsing. I have tried gels, but powder seems to work better but I only use ones with enzymes (SUN from the dollar tree). I would say that 97% of the time everything comes out spotless, the other 3% of the time I will hand wash if something doesn't get completely clean.

                                                                    MAC

                                                                    1. I don't rinse most dishes. The only exception: pots where the food has stuck to the bottom when cooking. The dishes with very few exceptions always come out clean. My wife and I, however, cook a lot and always eat at home, so we don't really go a day without filling up and running the dishwasher. With our Maytag, it does have a stainless steel chopper that will cut up small pieces of food. Of course, we scrape off the dishes before putting them in.

                                                                      1. Seems there are a couple of themes running here. First, scrape but do not rinse. Dishwasher detergents are engineered to work with the food left on the dishes and are actually more efficient when they have more food to work with. If you don't want to let dirty dishes sit in your DW for a couple days, then run a rinse and hold, or just run the dishwasher. At 3-4 gallons per use, you're using less water to run an entire cycle than you are to rinse those dishes!!

                                                                        Some dishwashers have hard food disposals, and some have filter systems. In all but the cheapest models your dishwashing detergent should break up all this food and it will "magically" go away. But do check your filter regularly for bones, glass, etc.

                                                                        The new eco-friendly phosphate free dishwashing detergents are throwing us all for a loop. This is pretty much all you can find anymore, although I have run across the old phosphate style detergents at the dollar stores, and I snap them up! The phosphate free detergents tend to leave white spots or lines and/or shadows on dishes and glassware. A couple tips: run your DW at the highest temp setting when using these. If you use a solid square of detergent, toss it in the bottom of the DW at the beginning of the cycle rather than in the cup on the door. They tend to take a little longer to dissolve and getting wet earlier in the cycle will help them get into the wash cycle quicker.