Still prewashing your dishes? Don't waste your time – or water

If you rinse dishes before you wash them, you're not just wasting water: You're wasting your time.

Modern dishwashers do such a good job that prewashing is totally unnecessary. And that isn't just a line that Big Dishwasher's been feeding us. At, we've tested hundreds of dishwashers, and even the worst of them weren't bad enough to require routine prewashing.

When we test a dishwasher, we bake some disgusting stains onto plates, and then let them sit. From eggs and milk to baked-on pasta sauce, the dishes we test with are dirtier than anything you'd ever have in your home. We don't prewash them, and nearly all our dishes come out clean.

Only the filthiest of them leave stains behind. If we'd done any scraping at all, they'd likely have come out clean, too. Don't believe us? We've got photographic evidence:

Need more proof? Ok, I'll confess: I come from a long line of prewashers. The dirty dishes my grandmother loaded into her GE PotScrubber 1200 were clean enough to eat off of. And back in the 1980s, my mother even scrubbed with soap and a sponge before putting dishes into her harvest gold KitchenAid.

But that extra soap didn't get my family's dishes any cleaner. Instead, it caused streaking on glassware, left a lemon Joy–flavored film on drinking glasses, and sometimes caused suds to leak from the base of the washer.

Still not convinced? Well, consider the environment.

Even though modern dishwashers use barely any water—most "Normal" wash cycles use less than five gallons, and the new KitchenAid TK with AquaSense only uses 1.64 gallons—they also do a tremendously good job cleaning dishes.

Kitchen faucets tend to output between 1.5 and 2.2 gallons per minute. An older faucet's flow may be as high as 7 gallons per minute. So if you're spending more than a minute rinsing your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher, you're likely doubling how much water the cleaning process uses.

If you're worried that your dirty dishes might start to smell, don't wait until the dishwasher is full to run a cycle. It'll use less water washing a half load than it would take you to prewash your dishes before loading them.

And if it turns out that some specks of food are left behind on a dish, you can always put it back in the dishwasher for another round. Even another wash cycle would still be less wasteful than prewashing every dish.

Prewashing is a hard habit to break. Trust me, I know. But together, we can put an end to this water-wasting superstition.


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