Pre-rinsing is for chumps . . . like me


Yesterday morning, I unloaded my dishwasher in record time. The kids were still asleep, and I was checking things off the to-do list like a productive dynamo. As I slid the lower rack back into the dishwashing unit, I noticed that the detergent compartment was still closed. Because I had forgotten to start the dishwasher the previous evening. Yes, indeed – I had just put away a load of dirty dishes.

A pet peeve of mine has, historically, been people who don’t pre-rinse dishes. I hated pulling dishes from the washer that still had bits of gross stuck to them. Yes, I had heard that pre-rinsing had become largely unnecessary, but I remained true to my very thorough routine. So much so that it was often impossible to tell whether a load of dishes was clean or dirty. After reloading all of my dirty dishes this week, along with all of the clean dishes they had touched, it was time to admit that more research was needed. If I’m wasting water and time, change is in the air.

My investigation yielded predictable results. Pre-rinsing doesn’t do much. For most modern dish detergents, pre-rinsing actually hurts the process. The detergents look for food particles to target. In the absence of food particles, the finish on your dishes becomes the target. This may explain why all of my pint glasses are etched beyond recognition.

Another thing I learned will save us even more energy and water. The heated dry setting is also unnecessary. An article I read recommended “flash drying” –  open up the dishwasher as soon as the wash cycle finishes. The dishes are so hot that the water will evaporate quickly, leaving you with a shorter wash cycle without the use of the heating element. Cha-ching.

My Earth Day investigation yielded a lot of saved water and electricity (not to mention time!) on the horizon. Guess it’s time to check out how my laundry consumption could be improved . . .

My sources for this post:

http://www.aceee.org/consumer/dishwashing

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/21/garden/21fix.html

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