To rinse or not to rinse, that is the question… If you own a dishwasher you will certainly have considered whether to pre-rinse your dishes before stacking them. This is a matter of great controversy and whole internet forums have been devoted to the topic!
According to dishwasher manufacturers’ guidelines, ‘pre-rinsing’ as it is known, is unnecessary. Experts (i.e. dishwasher engineers) say quite categorically that you do not need to pre-rinse before loading the dishwasher: just scrape the leftovers from your dishes into the bin and stack them. The dishwasher will do its job and wash them.
Of course following this advice will certainly save time, money, energy and water. “You use more electricity rinsing dishes off in the sink than the dishwasher uses to wash the whole load” says Mike Edwards, a senior design engineer at Bosch. Today’s advanced detergents are designed to attack food particles, and heavily soiled dishes, rather than pre-rinsed dishes, are used in the pre-market ‘wash tests’.
So, unless pans or dishes have something really burned on them and need pre-soaking, all you need to do is scrape off bones or chunks of food, preferably into a food recycling bin. Pre-rinsing by hand is not needed, especially as there’s a pre-rinse cycle on most models if you’re worried about smells from items that have been left for a while. Furthermore, according to Edwards “The biggest impediment in washing is due to poor loading”, rather than a need to pre-rinse.
Many people nonetheless find it hard to renounce this habit, perhaps not persuaded that dishwashers are up to the job and unaware that high performing enzyme-based detergents have been specially developed to break down food particles. The habits of a life time are hard to break and overcoming distrust of technology is not always easy, especially among people who may have been doing things in a particular way for years.
But whatever your dish-washing habits, a clean tea towel will always come in handy to catch the odd remaining drip as you unload your beloved dishwasher! Just remember it’s important to wash tea towels regularly and be careful to use a separate towel for drying hands.
And if it’s a radical tea towel you’re using, perhaps they can be a focus for a more progressive debate than the one on pre-rinsing!