Rinse before dishwashing?


This text will be hidden

Clark, With over 50 years using dishwashers, I can say that the reason for pre-rinsing dishes is NOT because the dishwasher can’t remove dried food. It is simply that many couples without children at home will not fill up a dishwasher in less than a week. During that time, any food left in the dishwasher will start to rot and create terrible smells! Who wants to have a stinky kitchen that makes you gag just ot walk in? It is not worth enduring the smell to save a few bucks each month. When dishwashers are built that can preserve stuck-on food so it doesn’t rot (refrigeration coils?, exhaust fans?), I will keep on rinsing, no matter how good the dishwasher cleans. The cleaning ability is not the problem. It is the rotting food stink, as most homeowners know. So please learn this truth, or forever shut up about pre-rinsing!


Hardness of water makes a huge difference in how effective dishwasher cleaning is. My son lives in South Carolina; I live in Arizona. One of the first comments they made after moving there was how much better their dushwasher cleans. They have relatively soft water; ours is quite hard. Our hard water commonly etches glassware.

I just saw this really helpful You Tube video about dishwashers, pods vs powdered detergent, and the pre-wash cycle. https://youtu.be/Ll6-eGDpimU?si=kRzd0a_3B6HieBJW

My dishwasher says to use the pods, but they have a marketing agreement with the pod companies. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:
Also, I found that the pods did not always clean the dishes/pots very well at all and I had to re-wash them!!
Turns out that the pods don’t release until the 2nd main wash cycle, so during the pre-wash cycle, it’s just water.

I switched to powdered detergent which is about 1/2 the price of the pods, for approx. the same number of washes (in the 60 washes size).
No-- I’m not saving tons of money, but I really don’t like the pods!!

Also, people say that they powdered detergent spills, but if you put it in over the dishwasher and some spills, it’s soap!! What’s the big deal?!?
I put a portion of my powdered detergent in an old Gladware container and spoon it out in both the pre-wash and main wash compartments, so there’s not spill. Then put the spoon the dishwasher.

Also - the video talks about hard water. If you don’t have hard water, you DON’T fill the up the containers all the way! There is a line about 1/2 way in the container for soft water! I never saw it before!

The pods are actually the same powdered detergent, but packaged and marketed differently and cost about double the price.

There is no doubt that pods cost more. But if you are over 75 and suffer from arthritis, then it is difficult to use a spoon or other small device to fill those tiny compartments. If you spill powder in the floor, it means a difficult clean-up with a broom and hands and back that refuse to bend to recover the powder. On the other hand if a pod is dropped, I can recover it using my hand-held grabber (pick-up device), without bending, stooping, or squatting. If you are young, you have options not available to us over-the-hill gang.

Our dishes sometimes, not every time, come out of the dishwasher with a weird smell. I have used different detergents, powder and pods, scented and unscented, rinse aid, cleaners and I clean the drain every time. I even tried spraying all the dishes with vinegar before the wash - but still the weird smell. The dishwasher is a Bosch and is only a couple years old. I can use a cleaner and it goes away for a few washes then returns. Anyone else have this issue and a solution?

If you have ever removed the bottom cover (or screen) from your dishwasher, you would know the answer. Most, if not all dishwashers, have a small pool of water in the bottom, that does not get removed during the drain cycle. If that water still contains food particles after the rinse cycle, then you will get bad smells from the rotting food.

Yesterday my son loaded the dishwasher after Thanksgiving Dinner. He slightly scraped dishes, but did not rinse them. Once full, he ran the dishwasher. I didn’t check the settings, and later was worried since the last time I’d run it, it had been on “light.”

With the exception of one pot, which had a small spot of baked on potatoes, everything came out quite clean. That baked on potato then easily soaked off with little effort.

I may change my pre-rinsing if I can change the pattern of the last 60 years…

1 Like

He had switched it from light to normal, which reset the “boost” temperature to the temp supplied by the water heater. Also not a heated dry.

I will add that dishwashers (old and new) are not good at removing “starch film”. It’s the residue left over from rice/potatoes/etc. that turns sticky quickly. It needs friction to remove.
We’ve had numerous problems with dishwashers (old and new) and garbage disposals over the 13 years I’ve been married due to this. For the dishwasher I realized I’m just rewashing these by hand each time, but a lightbulb went off in my head once when we had an appliance person out for our garbage disposal. We had on ongoing problem with our disposal and dishwasher and when we replace the disposal, the problem started back up after 1 year. The appliance person mentioned he normally only sees this problem in Asian households (I’m white). After getting over my initial irritation at the comment, I finally retorted with “my husband is Indian” and the man quickly asked if we ate a lot of rice. Turns out the fancy rice we use creates a build up problem in the appliances. (Probably also the potatoes from the Swedish side of my family - :grinning:)
So yes, please pre-rinse if you see that sticky starch film on your dishes because even if it does come off a little, that film really gunks up the works. Also, it only comes off a little (thankfully) so you are saving the waste of time/water/soap/electricity when you have to inevitably rewash those items by hand.

1 Like

Here in Hawaii a common dish is ‘sticky rice’.

My dishwasher has a steam function for if you aren’t rinsing, and not washing right away. I suspect it would help with rice or potato film…

In this thread pods and powder detergent is mentioned. But for some reason I’m the first to mention Gel. I’ve used dishwasher gel for 30 years. In my opinion “Pods” are just a gimmick to get you to spend more money.

My old Hotpoint DWer has the standard two cups. One is open and is used on startup. The second has a little door that opens on the second wash cycle.

I laughed when Clark claims dishes come out cleaner when you DON’T rinse! Baloney! Plus I’m on a septic system.

Just curious… how does the the fact you’re on a septic system come into play with rinsing dishes?

For septic tanks, it is not recommended to flush large amounts of very hot water into the tank, which can kill the bacteria that breaks down the sludge.

It’s not recommended to use powdered detergent (dishwasher or laundry) if on a septic system. The powder contains an oil that creates a scum in the tank and gunks things up.

On my farm septic tank, I installed a small tank next to it, and fed it with a separate sewer line from all drains except the commodes. The soap scum and grease settled out in the small “grease trap” tank, which could be easily cleaned. This allowed the septic tank to last 20 years before it needed pumping out.

Of the 58 years that I have owned my own SFR home, 40 of those years have been in homes with a private septic system. We’ve never limited the amount of hot water we use. We have never had a problem with any of our septic systems in those 40 years.

The systems were all standard below-ground 1,000 or 1,500 tanks with standard leach fields and were pumped every 5-8 years.

I used to worry about the effects of a water softener’s flushing salt brine into the system, but in the last 32 years of using them it has not been a problem.

A standard hot water heater is 50-100 gallons or 1/10 to 1/20 the size of the septic system. An underground tank is at probably 70-75 degrees F and the water heater at 120-130. Even if you drained the whole hot water heater into the septic tank I would be surprised if it raised the temperature more than 5-10 degrees. especially after cooling off running through the pipes.

How often you pump your tank depends mainly on the size of the tank and the number of people in the house. Here is a guide but there are many on the web: https://www.mrrooter.com/about/blog/2018/september/chart-how-often-should-a-septic-tank-be-pumped-o/
You may be able to go longer but the last time I had mine pumped it cost $600 or about $100/year (according to the chart I can go 6 years). You really don’t want to deal with a backed up septic and this is cheap insurance.

It also depends a lot on where you live and what kind of septic system you have, there’s a lot of variables involved.

In South-Central Alaska the frost line is about 3-4 feet and the temp in the interior of the septic tank doesn’t stay warm enough to have much solids break-down activity from bacterial action, so you have to have them pumped more often than you would, say in FL, CA or KY.

In some places you have to have tertiary treatment systems an forego a leach field altogether and discharge the effluent on top of the ground, heat and /or insulate the tank and use ultra-violet effluent systems… very expensive!