« Microsoft's New Pinball Wizard: Robert Scoble | Main | Art Show: "The Future of Children: Childhood Obesity" »

March 10, 2006

Not Pre-Washing the Dishwasher Dishes

As you probably know there are two kinds of people in the world...those who pre-wash their dishes before they put them in the dishwasher, and those who don't.

So being your typical low-grade OCD programmer, I have always been a dedicated pre-washer. If I had a spatula, say, that had cake batter, I would wash it (with soap and sponge) until it was basically clean, then put it in the dishwasher. Dinner plates I would run under water and rub with my fingers until almost everything was off. Etc. I refused to believe that however much the dishwasher turned into a raging inferno of suds, it just couldn't match good ol' elbow grease. Plus, I was troubled by the thought of the caked-on stuff that is washed off. Wouldn't it just swirl around the dishwasher and stick to the other dishes? It just seemed so unclean.

But, finally, I read one too many articles in Consumer Reports about how modern dishwashers were really good and you didn't need to pre-wash at all, just get rid of the big chunks of food and let the dishwasher take care of the rest. So I started gradually doing less pre-washing. But I was still running the water to do some pre-washing, which defeated the purpose. About a week ago I made the vow that I would load the dishwasher without running any water. That was basically my enforcement plan: if I could get something off by a quick scrape then fine, but I wasn't going to work hard, because without running water there isn't much you can do to a lot of the caked-on gunk.

Let me tell you, it was tough the first time I put a peanut-butter covered knife in there...or a cup full of maple syrup...or a bowl cake with dried chili. But, I have to say that CR is right. The dishwasher is a freaking crucible of cleanliness. I don't know where the heck all that goop goes, but the dishes come out clean as a whistle, and I'm saving water to boot.

Posted by AdamBa at March 10, 2006 09:55 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


While some part of me wonders why I read this blog some other part wants to find out where you live. Cup of maple syrup? Chili? Bowl cake? (Whatever the heck that is.) Hmm.

Your loyal internerd stalker,
- Drew

Posted by: Drew at March 11, 2006 09:11 AM

If it's any consolation, a part of me wonders why I write this blog.

I live in Redmond, natch.

And that was a bowl cakeD with dried chili.

- adam

Posted by: Adam Barr at March 12, 2006 09:24 AM

Hmmm... I am an OCD programmer and pre-washer. Nothing will make me stop even though I detest doing the dishes.

Posted by: Craig at March 12, 2006 01:45 PM

I think this depends on how good your dishwasher is. I've tried this tactic in the dishwasher at my place and it does exactly what you feared: it spreads the food chunks around and causes all the dishes to get incredibly dirty. Hmm... does this mean my dishwasher is broken?

Posted by: Mark Jen at March 13, 2006 05:12 PM

In Consumer Reports they talk about how "modern" dishwashers (or some term like that) should be able to handle the dirt. Our dishwasher is 7 years old and seems to do fine, but maybe you have an old dishwasher???

- adam

Posted by: Adam Barr at March 13, 2006 07:07 PM

A lot of it is down to the astoundingly strong detergents used. They actually reduce even quite solid-seeming food lumps to a solution, or at least a fine slurry that can be pumped out to the drain.

Scary stuff. As I fill our machine, I don't think about the environment.... :-)

Posted by: Hayden at March 16, 2006 05:40 AM

Our dishwasher has a garbage disposal in it. You can hear it grind away during the cycle. Once I learned what that noise was, I quit pre-washing and have had the same results as you. However, my husband always prewashes, even though he [should know he] doesn't need to. I would protest but I like the fact that he does the dishes so often.

Posted by: Beth at March 16, 2006 09:27 PM