Do You Have To Rinse Dishes Before Running A Dishwasher?

An age-old question asked. Should you rinse dishes before running a dishwasher? Grandma would probably say yes while a millennial or perhaps a Gen Z-er would insist on trusting the machine to do its job.

Whatever your assumptions already are, we’re certain we’ll break them in this article. Here’s what you should know about it.

How Do Dishwashers Clean Dishes?

Although it’s heavily dependent on the cycle, it’s still really simple. Water will fill up at the bottom, the heaters will heat it to an appropriate temperature, and the spray arms will gather the water and start blasting it through the holes. Steam will accumulate and the water will get reused over and over.

Rinse Functions On Dishwashers

There are special cycles designated only for rinsing the dishes before the washer cleans them. It’s typically called a pre-rinse or rinse-only cycle.  They use a pre-washing detergent dispenser and are a few minutes long before the machine gets to cleaning your dishes.

*Rinse Aid – Although the name suggests it helps rinse dishes, it’s not related to it at all. The rinse aid helps the drying process and protects glasses and dishes from returning to you with drying spots.

Clean Glasses With Rinse Aid

Sensors Inside Dishwashers (Turbidity)

Many new dishwashers feature sensors called turbidity that, with light, check the water to see how much light passes through it. If the light doesn’t pass through quite as much, it’ll detect that the washer is dirty and will enhance the cleaning process. Remember this for later.

So What’s The Deal, Should I Rinse Dishes Beforehand?

The simple answer is no. Remember that turbidity sensors we talked about? Those are probably the most important reason why it’s a hard no. If you rinse your dishes before, the sensors will do a bad job of detecting how dirty your dishes are which will lead to an inefficient washing cycle.

Day Old Dishes
Hack: A piece of bread can work wonders in cleaning up the hard dirt on your dishes. It’s a weird method that just works.

Scraping As A Friend

Alternatively, you can get into the habit of simply scrapping your dishes before loading the dishwasher. You’ll be surprised how much dirt you can get off by doing this. It’ll also alleviate some of the worry associated with people who have to pre-rinse their dishes.

Fun Fact: Pre-rinsing dishes before loading the dishwasher wastes 1-2 gallons of water per minute of rinsing

When Should Pre-Rinse Still Be Needed?

If you like to let your dishes sit until nighttime or even a day after to wash them, not even a dishwasher can help destroy the dried-up food particles on them. That’s when a hand rinse beforehand will be necessary but there’s a workaround still.

Dishwasher Not Cleaning Properly So You Turn To Pre-Rinsing?

Are you not satisfied with how your dishwasher cleans your dishes so you turn to handwash or pre-rinsing? The real issue might be the cleanliness of your dishwasher. There are three important dishwasher parts to clean before it can clean efficiently without pre-rinsing.

The Filter

Location: On the bottom of spray arms
Cleaning Method: Leave to soak in a water and vinegar mixture, Then use a toothbrush/toothpick to clean the holes

Filter and Sprayarms

The Drain

Location: On the bottom, below the filters
Cleaning Method: Pulling a wire hanger through, cleaning out the drainpipe, drain uncloggers (natural methods preferred)

The Sprayarms

Location: On the bottom (the alien spaceship looking thingies)
Cleaning Method: Soaking in water and vinegar mixture, using a toothpick to clean out the water spraying holes

How To Save Water If You Still Decide To Rinse?

Some people just feel safer that their dishwasher will clean dishes properly if they pre-rinse and that’s okay too. If you relate to the description, we recommend that you rinse the way to save water. It’s simple, instead of having your water run from the faucet constantly, simply fill your basin with water and rinse the dishes. If there are hardcore stains, you can put some dishwashing detergent inside, soak the dishes and then rinse them in another basin of clean water

To Wrap It Up

It’s easy, dishwashers are made to clean the dirtiest of dishes even more efficiently than if you’d rinse them beforehand. If you have an older model or just find it that your dishwasher cleans inefficiently if you don’t rinse beforehand, either try replacing the rinsing method with a scraping of the food particles or check to see if your dishwasher is cleaning properly by cleaning out the filter, spray arms, and drain.

As an English major student at the time, Petra was stuck at home with online classes when the lockdown started. Soon enough, Petra discovered a passion for cooking and making pastries to pass the time. She started small with some experimenting and trying out new techniques inspired by French, Italian, and Asian cuisine. Since then, she has become a full-blown “little chef”, making dinner parties for her friends and expanding her knowledge with cooking classes.