Washing dishes in COLD water?

CarinaJune 13, 2004

OK, help me with a little dispute please!

A guy I know insists that washing (by hand) dishes in cold water with plenty of soap is just as effective as washing in hot water. Because the soap is what actually cleans & disinfects; the water is just a vehicle for the soap.

According to a little internet search, it seems he's at least partly right...the soap is what really cleans - it's not very effective cleaning dishes in plain water, hot or cold. But...well it just seems wrong! And hot water certainly cuts grease, cold water doesn't, even with soap, unless you really scrub.

I'm certainly not planning on washing my dishes in cold water - if it was as effective, you'd think there woluld be "energy saving" cycles on dishwashers for cold water loads, like in washing machines. As far as I know, there aren't.

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hot water loosens up the grease so the detergent can "grab" it. The detergent molecules seize onto grease molecules and don't let go; then when you rinse, the grease leaves w/ the detergent.

But detergent can only grab what it can TOUCH. And it can only touch the SURFACE of a glob. Hot water thins the grease out and spreads it around so that more of it is available for the detergent to grab.

(sort of like e. coli; it grows on the surface of meat, and that's why ground beef is so dangerous--more surface area, bcs every tiny piece has its own surface area; plus of course that it's inside, and it's harder to get heat to the inside of something)

That's why greasy stuff washes better in HOT water. That's why it's so important to wash sheets and towels (which get more skin oil on them) in hot water--so the grease will liquify and become available for the detergent to grab.

Also for non-greasy food (which there's not much of), heat (because it makes molecules vibrate faster) will speed the dissolving of the food.

Go heat!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2004 at 12:21PM
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Talley_Sue gives a great explanation.

I've frequently washed dishes in cold water while hiking and I've not wanted to go to the hassle of trying to heat water.

But, if anything is really greasy I'll heat the water and soap in the greasy container.

Or, I'll scour with dry sand and then wash.

Lots of things you can do in nature. :-)

    Bookmark   July 9, 2004 at 10:41AM
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