Rinse vs. scrape: The verdict is in on this dishwasher debate

Should you rinse or scrape before putting dishes in the dishwasher?

Alina Bradford CNET Contributor
Alina Bradford has been writing how-tos, tech articles and more for almost two decades. She currently writes for CNET's Smart Home Section, MTVNews' tech section and for Live Science's reference section. Follow her on Twitter.
Alina Bradford
scraping dishes before putting them in dishwasher

Dishwashers may be able to clean an amazing amount of grime, but there is a limit to how much they can take.

Alina Bradford

Way back in the Dark Ages of dishwashing, you had to scrape, scrub and rinse dishes before putting them into the dishwasher. These days, dishwashers are much more advanced, but, chances are, you probably still know someone who insists that you must scrape your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. You probably also know someone else who says you just need to rinse. Who's right?

The prerinsing verdict

Pre-rinsing is a no-no because it isn't needed and it's wasteful. All new dishwashers can handle most dish messes. Don't worry about sauces, jellies or other liquid foods or any small bits of food. They don't need to be rinsed. All you really need to remove from your dishes are large clumps of food. Plus, prerinsing your dishes wastes more than 6,000 gallons of water per household each year, according to Consumer Reports.

Scraping is best for big clumps of food

Anything bigger than dime just needs to be scraped off. Larger clumps of food tend to just bounce around in the machine while the jets blast your dishes. The food can then resettle on dishes after the jets are done, or they can go down the drain and clog the filter.

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