Is pre-rinsing dishes with the dishwasher useful or not?

Unpleasant stains, food residues or streaks, often the cutlery, glasses or bowls come out of the dishwasher apparently untreated. The culprit is usually quickly found here: The dishwasher. But the dishwasher is usually the least responsible for the contaminated kitchen and household utensils. One cause for the grievance is the well-intentioned dishwashing.

What is meant by pre-washing dishes?

Especially when it comes to heavily soiled dishes, we often tend to want to do the dishwasher a favor by doing a pre-rinse. This involves using lots of detergent and water before we put the dishes in the dishwasher and start the dishwasher program. However, from both an ecological and financial point of view, we are making a big mistake with this decision.

In addition, there is a great risk that old dishwashing sponges, brushes or even towels will be used for washing dishes by hand. As a rule, these kitchen and washing-up aids are always damp and warm, which is an ideal breeding ground for pathogens of all kinds and shapes.

Note: Therefore, cleaning utensils, such as intensively used sponges and old washing-up liquid, should be replaced with new products at regular intervals.

Why is it usually not necessary to pre-rinse the dishes when washing with a dishwasher?

Modern dishwashers usually have a sensor or “aqua sensor” as standard.

The small device measures the contamination of the water during washing. Based on the values determined, the sensor regulates the dishwasher’s energy and water consumption.

So if you pre-rinse your dishes, you fool the sensor into thinking that the dishes are not excessively dirty. This is usually followed by automatic activation of the economy mode by the dishwasher or its integrated sensor. The fact that the dishes to be cleaned still have dirt residues is therefore easy to understand against this background.

Environmentally, pre-rinsing is nonsense.

Experts consider pre-rinsing dishes to be unnecessary and instead of using water twice, consumers should carefully remove only food residues. The dishwashers then take care of the rest.

What do experts advise about when and how to prewash as an exception?

As a general rule, experts advise that only enormously coarse food residues should be removed from dirty dishes. All other impurities are mastered by the dishwasher itself without major problems.

However, there are some residues that require a little more effort and may well justify pre-rinsing the dishes. These include:

  • Burnt-on and
  • heavily dried food residues
  • small vegetable residues

Here, the expert world gives the advice to refrain from hand washing and prefer soaking or wiping dishes. In fact, various tests have shown that significantly less water is used in this way, which in turn is very likely to benefit the household’s eco-balance.

How can you save water when pre-rinsing?

What we should always keep in mind is that “water is not a given.” Everyone should be aware of this and appreciate it accordingly. To let the water run permanently during pre-rinsing and to let liters disappear “just like that” down the drain is not exactly helpful for our environment as well as our budget – on the contrary.

Here’s how to pre-rinse properly:

  • To remove stubborn food residues, it is perfectly sufficient to drizzle the dishes with a little dishwashing liquid.
  • Subsequently, a full shot of warm water should be sufficient to soften the residues and ultimately remove them.
  • If there are several pieces, it is recommended to fill the sink with warm water and a little detergent and put them in. In this way, the dishes will soften in peace and the dirt will disappear by itself within a few minutes.

If you follow these tips and only prewash dishes in exceptional cases, you will be able to get your clean dishes out of the dishwasher in the future without having a guilty conscience towards the environment. It will also be good for your wallet, because saving water also means saving on operating costs.

Charles M Wilkins

Dishwashers expert with over 10 years of experience. He writes articles and shares his knowledge on many sites. Helps you choose the best (portable, countertop, built-in) dishwashers on this site.

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