Should You Rinse Dishes Before Putting Them in the Dishwasher?

The short answer is no, you don’t need to rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. In fact, rinsing your dishes can actually reduce the cleaning performance of your dishwasher and waste water and energy. Here are some reasons why you should skip the rinsing and let your dishwasher do its job.

Dishwashers are designed to handle dirty dishes

Modern dishwashers have sensors that detect how dirty the dishes are and adjust the water temperature, pressure, and duration accordingly. They also have powerful spray arms that can reach every corner of your dishes and remove even the most stubborn food particles. Some dishwashers have special features like steam, sanitize, or extra dry options that can enhance the cleaning and drying results.

If you rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, you are essentially telling the dishwasher that the dishes are not very dirty, and it will run a shorter and less intensive cycle. This can lead to poor cleaning results, especially if you have some dishes that are heavily soiled or have baked-on food. You may end up having to rewash some dishes by hand or run another cycle, which defeats the purpose of having a dishwasher.

Rinsing your dishes wastes water and energy

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), rinsing dishes before loading them into the dishwasher can waste up to 20 gallons of water per load. That’s equivalent to running an extra dishwasher cycle every day for a week. Rinsing dishes also uses more energy, as you need to heat up the water and run the faucet for several minutes. The EPA estimates that rinsing dishes can add up to $70 to your annual utility bill.

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On the other hand, dishwashers are much more efficient and economical than hand washing. They use only about 3 to 5 gallons of water per load, and they can heat the water to a higher temperature than your faucet can. Dishwashers that are certified by Energy Star can save even more water and energy, as they have advanced features like soil sensors, improved water filtration, and efficient jets. The EPA claims that using an Energy Star dishwasher can save you up to $40 a year on your utility bill and 5,000 gallons of water a year.

Rinsing your dishes is not necessary for hygiene

Some people may think that rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher is more hygienic, as it removes any visible food residue that may harbor bacteria. However, this is not true, as rinsing dishes does not sanitize them. To kill bacteria, you need to expose them to very hot water (at least 140°F) for a certain amount of time. Rinsing dishes with tap water, which is usually around 120°F, is not enough to achieve this.

Dishwashers, on the other hand, can heat the water to a much higher temperature than your faucet can, and they can maintain that temperature for the duration of the cycle. Some dishwashers even have a sanitize option that can raise the water temperature to 155°F or higher, which can kill 99.999% of bacteria. Dishwashers also have filters that trap any food particles and prevent them from recirculating in the water. Therefore, dishwashers are more effective than rinsing in ensuring the hygiene of your dishes.

Rinsing your dishes can damage them

Another reason to avoid rinsing your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher is that it can cause damage to your dishes over time. Rinsing dishes with hot water can cause thermal shock, which is when a sudden change in temperature causes the material to expand or contract. This can lead to cracks, chips, or warping of your dishes, especially if they are made of glass, ceramic, or metal.

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Dishwashers, on the other hand, gradually increase the water temperature throughout the cycle, which reduces the risk of thermal shock. They also have racks and baskets that protect your dishes from bumping into each other or the walls of the dishwasher. Dishwashers also have a dry cycle that removes any moisture from your dishes, which can prevent rust, mold, or stains. Therefore, dishwashers are gentler on your dishes than rinsing them.


Rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher is a common habit that many people have, but it is actually unnecessary and counterproductive. Rinsing dishes can reduce the cleaning performance of your dishwasher, waste water and energy, compromise the hygiene of your dishes, and damage them over time. Instead of rinsing your dishes, you should simply scrape off any large food particles and load them into the dishwasher. This way, you can enjoy the benefits of having a dishwasher, such as saving time, money, and the environment, while getting sparkling clean dishes every time.