The claim that dishwashers need food to work right

LinelleMay 23, 2013

There are threads scattered about with the debate over whether or not to pre-rinse dishes going into the DW and whether DWs actually need food to clean better, but the only one I could dig up devolved into front-loading washing machines.

I'm looking at a Bosch SHE43RL5UC which is in my budget and has gotten pretty good online reviews.

The sales guy and I had a friendly debate over the pre-rinse issue. He claimed it should not be done, the real reason being detergents can etch dishes and glasses if there isn't some food residue. I can buy that reason more than, "it won't clean properly unless food is present."

I'm a pre-rinser from way back. I'm not trying to be deliberately contrary. I live alone and it often takes me 5 days to get a sufficient DW load. I don't want a plate of egg yolk, or dairy or meat incubating in the DW.

One what-if I forgot to throw at him is, what about water glasses at a dinner party? They are essentially pre-rinsed even when they go straight from the table to the DW. What protects them from etching? The undersides of dishes that didn't have food on their surfaces?

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If you take a long time to fill a DW, maybe you should get dish drawers? My friend bought a drawer DW when she found out she was having twins (knew her time would be limited liked having the option of one clean/cleaning and one for dirty). She loves it! And, it is handy for people who use dishes slowly too.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 12:40PM
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I have a bosch and pretty sure its on their website or in the manual explaining why not to pre rinse. If the load is a combo of things, some with baked on food, covered in sauce, etc. and then some water glasses it should be ok.

If I were you I would just get 1 dishwasher drawer. Then you could run it every other day.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 12:41PM
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I think it is primarily Enzyme activation in the detergents that does not take place without food present.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 12:46PM
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I'm sure DW drawers are dandy, but they're not currently in my budget or plans. Maybe next kitchen. :) Also, in a day I may only generate two plates, a bowl, coffee cup, and assorted silverware.

Sorry to keep begging this question, but what happens to water glasses? No food is present on them. Will they get clean? Could I toss in a crust of bread or a pork chop just before I run the DW and that would be enough food to trigger proper cleaning? Yes, I know I'm being flippant, but I just can't wrap my head around you-need-food-to-clean-properly.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 12:58PM
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The model you are interested in has a half-load function, so you could run the dishwasher every other day ?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 1:00PM
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I'm going to take some dishes to the appliance store today and if they fit okay, I think I'm going to get this DW. I may just learn to scrape, not rinse. It's not gonna be easy. :)

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 1:09PM
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You don't need food to get the dishes clean, you need food to keep the detergent from etching the dishes. My understanding is that not every dish or glass needs food on it, but having some dishes with food activates the enzymes in the water which then cleans all the dishes including empty water glasses.

You really need to get over your compulsion to pre-rinse and your yuck factor about leaving dirty dishes in the DW. I often go a week without running the dishwasher and nothing bad happens. On the other hand there are numerous threads about Bosch DWs smelling bad even when run frequently, so I'm not sure what to tell you.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 1:12PM
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Linelle, Your post echoed many of the question I had/have about DW---especially about the water glasses. I'm not convinced that there has to be food on the plates for the detergent to work, but I don't know that it's not true either.

I am a pre-rinser from way back. In fact, most would say I prewashed. I recently bought a new DW and was convinced to try it without washing--only scraping the dishes. It was a hard habit to break, but I wanted to see if it really would work. I've put in some VERY dirty dishes and pans that have set for a couple days (occasionally even three days, but usually two). Almost without exception, they have all come out sparkling clean. I was amazed.

Like you, I thought I should use the pre-rinse cycle at least, but a salesman in the appliance store said the DW would be more likely to smell bad if you prerinsed than if you didn't, because you would now have WET dirty dishes and dirty dishwater standing in the DW. So I went ahead without rinsing and have been very pleased with the results.

I have, on occasion, had people put dishes in the sink and when I get there to load the DW the dishes have gotten wet from others using the faucet or because at that point it's easier to ''scrape'' off the food scraps by quickly running them under water and putting them in the DW. I have found that the salesman must have known what he was talking about, because that is the only time I've had any odor from dirty dishes in my DW. The odor was faint, couldn't be smelled when the door was closed, and dissipated completely when the dishes were washed.

So, my conclusion is that it's best not to rinse the dishes at all, but if something seems to need a little more attention I will rinse it before putting it in the DW, knowing there are no lasting ill effects. If I were you, I would simply run the DW before the DW was entirely full. Remember, DWs don't use as much water as they used to, so it's not as wasteful. If you have a one-hour wash cycle, you could try that.

I was somewhat skeptical of all the claims I heard about how well my DW would wash unrinsed dishes and rinsing dishes was a hard habit to break, but I am now a believer.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 1:13PM
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weissman, I'll work on my compulsion concerning pre-rinsing and the yuck factor, if for no other reason than I'm wasting a lot of water. I'm really not that anal-retentive, but get really skeeved out by gross things in the kitchen. I have read about Boschs smelling bad, and those that said they smelled fine. I suspect that individual circumstances might create that situation.

sail-away, the truth is, I'm a prewasher. So much so, that I'll look at a dish and go, it's clean, and put it in the drying rack on the counter and call it done. I do wash pots and pans by hand, unless the DW is ready to run and there's room.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 1:35PM
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Holly- Kay

Ok I have to admit that this premise has me stumped as well. I am not only a pre-rinser, I am a pre-washer. I have washed my dishes before putting them in the dishwaher all of my adult life.

I am really going to work on this with my new dishwasher. I am going to do my best to refrain from washing first and just do a light pre-rinse. In all the years that I have been pre-washing my dishes I have never experienced etching of any kind.

I honestly was going to go without a dishwasher because I enjoy handwashing but the dishwasher was free so I decided to get it.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 1:48PM
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holly-kay, I could probably survive without a DW. I don't exactly enjoy handwashing and I hate hate hate drying dishes. To me a DW is a place to store dirty dishes and keep them off my counter and out of the sink.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 1:57PM
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Is this thing about a DW needing food true for all DWs? Or just fancy ones like Bosch (fancy in my book, that is)? I'd find it hard to stop pre-washing but it would be better for the world, I know.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 2:50PM
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waterdamage, I'm willing to try it too. Our epitaphs could read:

"S/he gave up pre-washing to make the world just a little better."

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 3:04PM
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It's not a question of which DW you use - it's the detergent - current detergents use enzymes - older ones used phosphates and chlorine. So; it's not just "fancy" DWs that this applies to. I've never understood the compulsion to pre-rinse - even in the olden days I never did it - what's the point of having a DW.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 3:06PM
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I think it is primarily Enzyme activation in the detergents that does not take place without food present.

The enzymes are there for the purpose of breaking down protein. they aren't the main cleanser or rinsing agent. In the absence of food particles, the enzymes are just floating around in the water, doing nothing.

I scrape the bulk of the food off and prewash things I know will be a problem, such as mashed potato bowls, but I haven't noticed a difference in cleaning.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 3:41PM
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I have a Bosch and never pre-rinse.

I also have the half rack option, and use that quite frequently when I have a lot of prep dishes that I can wash on a quick cycle before dinner is done.

I think the type of soap you use determines if you have that smell or not. I put a glass of vinegar upright in a long load cycle about once a month.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 4:15PM
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Holly- Kay

I really am not a clean freak but I just can't stand the thought of yucky dishes in the dishwasher. I guess when I actually use the dishwasher it is more storage than anything. We can never tell if the dishes are clean or dirty because they all look spotless. Is there a support group for compulsive dishwashers?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 4:22PM
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Well, I just bought the DW and it's being delivered next Tuesday. I'm willing to turn over a new leaf for the betterment of mankind. It's gonna take most of my brain power to get used to the new way of loading dishes.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 4:31PM
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I have no idea whether you need food or not. But the fact is, for Europeans, the key factor for not rinsing has always been economy: fuel to heat water is expensive, so avoiding a rinse saves money. And water (which is also expensive). Plus, in general, Europeans (especially in Germany) are very environmentally conscious and want their machines to work on the least power, to reduce emissions at power plants.
Most Europeans have their dishwashers set up to operate on a cold-fill only: the machine heats its own hot water, so the amount heated is precisely the amount needed, no more.

So they designed machines that worked efficiently, without the need for rinsing, or for a heated drying cycle.

It's all about efficiency and the environment.

(and, as someone else pointed out, why would you have a dishwasher AND pre-wash your dishes?)

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 5:05PM
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why would you have a dishwasher AND pre-wash your dishes?

Old ways die hard. Our first DW was in 1948 and I learned to pre-rinse from my mom. Either DWs in those days needed it or my mom didn't trust the machine that much. I guess I missed the memo that told me I should stop.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 5:28PM
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Think about all the time, water, and energy you are wasting.

This reminds me of a story my mom told me. When I was born my dad ordered a diaper service. Disposables were not regularly used at that time. When all your were supposed to do is discard any solid waste and throw the cloth diaper in a pail provided. My mom just could not put dirty diapers in that pail so she washed them first.

FYI the same enzyme issue applies to laundry detergent.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 5:35PM
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linelle-die hard pre-rinse/pre-washer here too. I can't help it. I can't even say it's because we don't run our dishwasher often enough since we are a family of 4 and it runs daily.

It's just so...unnatural for me to leave it. It's a compulsion I think. Or it's from the first junk dishwasher we had that couldn't wash ranch dressing out of a salad bowl.......... The though of eating out of a dirty dish that has dried on nasty old food really grosses me out!

I really want a bosch for our next one (planning on building this fall or next spring). Maybe then I can stop??? Is there a support group for over-rinser/washers?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 6:04PM
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OK, if the OP is virtually "pre(?)-washing" the tableware and already handwashing the pots and things, why not just go ahead and hand wash everything and use the DW as the (air) drying rack. One could add as many pieces as the day generated, and then unload it all at once when you had the time.

When you had a party or a big cooking day, the DW could be loaded completely and run normally, but for small meals, with few implements or dishes, it makes a dandy drying location: out of sight and off the counter.

Full disclosure: I don't use a DW as very few of my cooking and eating utensils are DW safe.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 6:22PM
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lirio, that's actually a brilliant solution! I wish I'd thought of it myself. Then when people point to the DW and ask, "Are those dishes in there clean or dirty?" the answer requires no thought.

Alas, I've paid for the new one, and will try loading it with un-pre-anything if it kills me.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 6:29PM
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Holly- Kay

Linelle, that is it exactly. We had a dishwasher in the early 60's and my mom always washed the dishes before putting them in the dw. After I married, our first home didn't have a dw so that reinforced the hand washing of my dishes. Yes old habits die hard and it would take two weeks for hubby and I to dirty enough dishes for a whole load.

Autumn, I believe you, Linelle and I will be the only ones in over washer's annonymous!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 6:31PM
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I, too, am a fellow pre-rinser. I just don't know if I could stop :)

When I went shopping for our new DW, the sales person said something about the enzymes in the detergent needing food to work properly. He also said that if they are pre-rinsed, the dishes could become etched in time.

I don't know how true that is. I've not noticed any etching in our glasses or plates.

Anyway, "Hello, my name is... and I'm a pre-rinser."

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 6:34PM
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Holly- Kay

I love that idea too lireo. I always complain about the looks of an ugly dish rack and I can never find one big enough. I think the dishwasher racks would be plenty big enough.

I am still going to try my best to stop my bad dish washing habits if I can. If not I know the dw will make a great drying rack albeit an expensive one.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 6:40PM
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Holly- Kay

RKB welcome to the club! OWA unite!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 6:44PM
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"why would you have a dishwasher AND pre-wash your dishes?"

Because they dont' come out clean if I don't. No matter what dishwasher!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 7:19PM
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Stuff that my dishwasher can't/won't clean (and there are many pieces) don't ever get put inside it. Once I have hand washed something, it is clean and gets put away.

I'm finding many of the behaviors admitted to on this thread extremely puzzling.....

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 7:25PM
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All that stinky, greasy water swishing around supposedly cleaning the dishes grosses me out.

Maybe it doesn't work that way? Does water come from the top, rinse to the base and stay there? Or does it somehow circulate.

The steam is smelly gross too.

I wouldn't call it pre-washing, it's pre-rinsing. I don't want decaying food in my dishwasher all week. It smells when you open it and any bug attractant I can elminate is better housekeeping for my peace of mind. I often use Quick Wash from there, not a heavy cycle. Or if I've loaded a lot of dirty dishes, I QW first to get rid of the grunge. Whatever makes me feel better, lol

My glasses and dishes aren't top quality or precious, so whatever wear there is doesn't bother me. I don't pay attention to it.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Thu, May 23, 13 at 19:32

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 7:30PM
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Don't pre-rinse, it wastes water and your time. If you pre-winse, neither the detergent or the dishwasher will damage your dishes/glasses/silverware.

"Before you put anything in the dishwasher, scrape off the large food particles and do not pre-rinse. Your dishwasher detergentâÂÂs job is to cling to food and help wash it away."

"A lot of people think that washing dishes by hand saves water and energy, when actually, itâÂÂs the other way around. A modern dishwasher uses approximately 15% of the water that would be used to wash the same dishes by hand. "

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 7:41PM
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I'm finding many of the behaviors admitted to on this thread extremely puzzling.....

cooksnsews, you should hear the stuff we don't admit to publicly.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 8:14PM
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Using pre-rinsing/pre-washing logic we should all be handwashing our clothes before they go in the machine. Um, no thanks :).

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 8:28PM
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linelle, being new to the d/w world I can tell you my experience. We installed a bosch 500 series panel ready. Love it. Took some getting used to, since we never had a d/w before. I was happily pre-rinsing, and using my method detergent tabs since I'm anti-chemicals. Within a few months, my glasses were ruined. Completely etched to the hill, looking cloudy and just gross. I called bosch to complain. When I was handwashing my dishes, I never had that problem. They told me two things, scrape only, and use the finish tabs recommended. It's painful for me, not so much the scraping, but the finish tabs. I really wanted to use something better for the environment. I have to admit that the glasses that weren't etched, have remained pretty much clear since I switched.
There's also a hard water theory, but I refuse to believe that the water to my house is uniquely hard, when my neighbor's water is just the same and their glasses unetched.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 8:46PM
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Before buying my new DW a few months ago, I said (or at least thought) many of the things being said here. As I already admitted, I was a pre-rinser, probably more accurately described as a pre-washer.

One thing that convinced me to try the no-rinse approach was how expensive our new appliances were---we were replacing 20+ year-old appliances and I was totally shocked by how much everything cost. I was determined to get full value from these expensive appliances and put them to the test to make sure they worked as advertised.

A second reason is that, since the change in DW detergent, my glasses started etching. I want to replace them because they look really bad. So I want to give the new glasses the best shot at staying pristine.

To tell the truth, I adapted very quickly and happily. It was a difficult change, inasmuch I had to consciously remind myself not to rinse before loading the DW. I have no problems with bugs or other unsanitary conditions, and everything comes clean. As I mentioned above, the only time there is an odor is if I lapse into rinsing (and the odor was very slight and was not noticeable unless the DW Door was opened and I was close enough tothe DW---I'm told it will also occur if you use the pre-rinse cycle (I was skeptical when I was told that, but now I believe it).

Give no pre-rinsing a try for 2-3 weeks, to give it a fair trial. I think you just might like it.

By the way, I've put the pan in which I cooked and mashed potatoes in the DW without rinsing several times and it has come out clean. The only problem was the first time, when I loaded wrong and it ended up turned right side up and murky water was left in the bottom of the pan--I just rinsed it out with a little dish soap and dried it and put it away.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 8:48PM
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Hi..I'm peonybush and I'm a pre-washer.
Can't help it. I can't stand the thought of washing food chunks.
I don't run the DW every day--leaving dirty dishes in there grosses me out. I don't see any problem with etching.
I think this falls under my pre cleaning obsession. When I had a cleaning lady, I used to empty the wastebaskets, tidy up etc. before she came. I didn't want her to think we were messy. DH said she never really had much to do--I cleaned before she came! I no longer have a cleaning lady. Enough said.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 10:39PM
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"Using pre-rinsing/pre-washing logic we should all be handwashing prewashing our clothes"

ummmm, hands up? lol

This post was edited by snookums2 on Thu, May 23, 13 at 22:47

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 10:45PM
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Peonybush, If you scrape off the dishes, there shouldn't be any ''chunks'' floating around the DW. You can scrape with a fork or spoon, a napkin, or even a Kleenex., to get all the pieces of food off. I will occasionally just blast the dish with a bit fo water to get off the grains of rice, peas, etc., but not completely rinse it. I have checked and rinsed the filter frequently, and only once found a small bit of the skin of a pea there; otherwise, nothing. What's left on the plate seems to disintegrate and go down the drain, leaving me with perfectly clean dishes.

One other note: Be sure to check your DW manual to see what the minimum water temperature is recommended. We had to turn the water heater up a bit to match what the manual said. And, of course, we alway run the water in the sink until the water is hot so that the DW starts out with water at the correct temperature.

I like the comment about prewashing our laundry---good logic. I suppose one could simulate rinsing, then washing, by using the pots and pans or some other wash cycle that goes through more cycles than the average wash cycle.

In the end, we all have our own way of caring for household tasks and need to find what works for us. I respect that. But if anyone is at all tempted by the idea of getting the dishes done in less time, give it a try. You may be surprised how easy it is to change your mind. I did.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 11:13PM
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I am a pre-rinser. I also have a plate licker in the house. So, would it help if I squirted ketchup or mustard randomly on the dishes right before I ran the dishwasher?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 11:26PM
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it's in the cluster of activities including reduction of residential landscape watering and to take slightly quicker showers at not such hot temps.... If you think of the savings if the majority of people, first of all would comprehend that handwashing dishes, is wasteful and pre rinsing is unnecessary and that's why you have purchased an efficient machine, so much the better for all of us. go ahead and rinse those slimey plates every now and then-that's not going to cause any harm but get out of the general habit of prerinsing everything.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 12:04AM
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i am no expert, but i had heard that if your water is hard, then your dishes will etch. so adding salt helps reduce etching. maybe that might help in the case of pre-rinsing too?

also, you probably already know since you are considering bosch, but i thought i'd mention it just in case-- certain models of bosch have an option for cleaning top rack only so might be good if you just want to run the dishwasher on half-loads.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 12:12AM
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So, I bought the Bosch and am prepared to turn over a new leaf. No prewash, maybe a widdle winse for real ick-factor food. I'm gonna give it my best try.

Corgimum asks the same question I've had: what about squirting some ketchup around to simulate food left on the plate?

Why do new DWs etch when the old ones don't? Is it the detergent they require because they use less water? Or does food act as a buffer?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 1:48AM
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I think it's the new formulation for the DW detergent, when they removed the phosphates, not the DW. My old DW started etching my glasses after I started using the newly formulated DW detergent. I want to replace the glasses, but first I need to buy one new glass to experiment with running through the DW repeatedly to see if it etches. No sense in replacing my glasses only to have the new ones etch, too.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 2:35AM
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During prep, everything gets scraped, then dropped in the sink. Don't like anything dirty hanging around on the counters. I have to wash hands quickly 3-4 times and things get wet from that. Sometimes load the DW before dinner or not depending on how much is in the sink. After dinner, we drop all plates in the sink...have to put them down somewhere as my hands are full.
Scrape into garbage usually with my hand as they are dirty anyway and need to be washed. I need to get water up to hot temp anyway for a hand wash item, (always one or two) and something may need a soaking. I use that cold water running time to rinse what i feel needs it. Load the DW. Sink is now free for hand washing and delicates. Drying cloth on counter, (love those things) air dries my knives and wooden spoons, a serving dish and what-not. Counter wiped, cutting board gets a BKF and vinegar, sink gets a quick cleaning and done. Run DW, empty in the morning with my coffee.
If you live or have ever lived in an area prone to drought, you tend to appreciate every drop of water.
I have the single tall dishdrawer. Use 7th Gen powder and vinegar in the rinse thing. Noticed at yard sales some horribly etched glass just like mine, (the french bistro ones) but i've never had that problem. Loaded properly and run near every day, i do not have stink and dishes are clean.
So, i'm a mini-rinser by method i suppose.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 6:40AM
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My dishwasher is a Maytag from 1999. I barely pre-rinse if you can call it that. If there are dishes in the sink when I use the water that's when they get rinsed. Or if the water is running for the disposal I may just swipe the plate or bowl under the faucet if I'm too lazy to scrape. I usually only run my dishwasher every 2-3 days and have never had a smell, bug, or rodent problem.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 7:31AM
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I've just learned more about dishwashers in this thread that I have in my last 25 years on earth.... So are you not even suppose to pre-rinse post and pans after cooking? ::Scratches head::

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 8:34AM
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I'm a dishwasher janie-come-lately, having only gotten one into my life and kitchen when we remodeled 3 years ago. After 20+ years of handwashing I was and am in full Scarlett O'Hara mindset: as g*d is my witness, I'll never wash dishes again.

And I do not. I scrape off the food debris, load up, turn on and hope for the best. For the vast majority of loads, my Bosch does a very good job. Occasionally there will be a bit of food that is left on a utensil, but I think that is usually due to being overloaded in the rack.

Unfortunately my husband is both extremely stubborn and determined that whatever worked in the 'good old days' must be better. He literally sneaks around to hand wash things before I can load the dishwasher. So irritating, especially because the man is in all other ways fanatic about conserving resources. And yet he insists that standing in front of the sink with the hot water running(!) while he washes and rinses is a good idea.

Oh wait, wasn't this the marital kitchen complaint thread? No, oh well never mind...carry on with your scraping, loading and squirting...

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 8:35AM
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I appreciate everyone's input, advice, and psych evaluations. :) I don't so much object to changing my methods, but always look for a logical explanation. If it makes sense, I'll do it.

Another thing. The need to run the water at the sink until it's hot *before* you run your DW. And, if it's not a certain temp, turn up your water heater. Both of those things seem to go counter to the water/energy conservation rallying cries I've heard in this thread (and I'm not trying to disparage them). My kitchen is the furthest point from my water heater. What about all that water wasted waiting for it to get hot enough? Hell, I could be pre-rinsing with all that. Why don't all new DWs take whatever water is delivered and heat it to the correct temp?

The etching still puzzles me. If it's the detergent, why don't we use a different one? The appliance guy told me to use those Finish tabs (two sides with a red center). Why not the Cascade tabs I currently use in my old DW that doesn't etch? Or, here's a thought: maybe it *is* etching and I just don't notice?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 11:05AM
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Some DWs do heat the water. You need to check out your model. I have heard not to use Cascade pacs as they sometimes do not dissolve all the way and cause clogging. Bosch recommends finish so that is what I use. Remember that dishing detergent and laundry detergent had to change their formulas because of environmental concerns.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 11:18AM
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uh oh, strike 2....I love LONG...HOT showers. No time to do it often but when I get a chance, *LOVE* to start my day that way! :/

I do drink daily out of a reusable water bottle though, that counts for something right?!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 11:21AM
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we removed the dishwasher and the garbage disposal and the prep sink in our remodel. That is probably as weird to you as this thread is to me...

This is the third time I've removed a dishwasher in our kitchen remodels (over the course of thirty some years).

We did hook up the dishwasher in the basement in case the inconvenience of being without a sink motivated us to use the dishwasher. It's been two weeks without a sink and so far we haven't used the dishwasher.

Here is a link that might be useful: our remodel

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 2:56PM
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The hot water recirculating pump is part of the standard building code in many parts of the country. Hot water instantly.

Here is a link that might be useful: re-circ pump

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 4:21PM
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The kind of DW detergent you use makes all the difference! I used to use the thrifty Cascade in the box, old style. Then, my dishes weren't clean, even the DW wasn't clean! So started using Finish for cleaning the DW, thinking if my DW is clean, my dishes will be, too. No way! So then, added Lemon Shine with the Box Cascade. Still not clean, unless I pre-rinsed. Finally tried those tablets of Cascade Platinum. OMG! Now my dishes and my DW sparkle! And I thought my top of the line KA was the problem!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 12:47AM
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Linelle--Regarding the need to run the tap until the water is hot before starting the DW, I use that "heating up" time to wash my knives, wood board, and any other small item that may need hand washing. (I guess I should mention that I'm doing this individually under the running water, not in a tub of standing water.) I even, horror of horrors, use that time to scrub a dirty pot or pan that I know my DW cannot clean. I'm getting much better about not pre-washing, but my cr@ppy Kenmore cannot clean a baked on casserole dish or a blackened fry pan. By the time I'm done with all that, the water is hot and ready to go. I can't wait to replace my Kenmore with something that cleans better and doesn't sound like a freight train in the kitchen. Hopefully, I can swing a floor model Miele when the time comes, and those have their own on-board water heater so I won't need to warm up the water.

And to your question about why all DWs don't have their own water heater, I read the other day that the on-board water heater is a European thing. Apparently it's an energy saving device, as you may have figured out. You use less energy to only heat exactly the amount of water the DW needs to clean the dishes. Europeans are far more energy conscious than we Americans, you know.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 8:43AM
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Breezy & La_jan, thanks for the advice on detergents and what to do with the heating-up water. I'm not sure my Bosch has the water heater, a point I failed to think of during my purchase deliberations. It's always something.

I'm sure I'll figure it out. Running the DW maybe every 4 or 5 days, the cost of new detergent won't be as much a $$$ to me as those who run theirs multiple times a day. I did take a Trader Joe's bag of a variety of my dishes and baking pans to the appliance store. I rattled all the way. I was surprised that things actually fit, despite the seemingly crowded layout. It will be another learning experience after the wide open spaces of my old Kenmore.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 9:52AM
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I have a Miele DW hooked up to cold water. The DW heats the water to the proper temp and there is no heated drying. I personally would not buy a machine that required me to stand there and wait for hot water. Why? The initial rise is cold water anyway.

The dishwasher isn't the issue. It's the detergent that needs to work correctly. You will quickly find out if it isn't and etching is an issue with the glassware. If so, it's the result of too much detergent and soft water. Sometimes DH will rinse things out of habit. With the right detergent and rinse aid it's not an issue.

But why wash twice? Call me dumb or lazy but I'm not doing anything by hand that isn't necessary either. All my pots and pans go in and all my dishes, even the antique ones. Why I bought the dang thing.

But the issue -- discussed extensively over on appliances -- is detergent results. All seem to agree that scraping is the way to go so enzymes in the detergents can do their job, whatever that is. But I wouldn't get stuck on that.

Detergents seem to give different results in different parts of the country. So it becomes a mater of finding which detergent works best in your machine with your water. Then how much to use.

I can't be around the powders or the gels. So I use the tabs. Some of us cut the DW tabs in half for small loads, which makes sense. I have a full size DW and run it every night. I can't bear to have dirty stuff around but everyone is different.

So for small loads I use a half tab and if there are no pots and pans in there I might use the china cycle, which is shorter and with warmer water -- energy saving. But my machine doesn't use significant energy since it's only working with 7 gallons of water and it has a cold water fill.

Most on appliances agree that Finish Quantum does a great job. Some of us like Method tabs and the grapefruit-rose are easily cut and smell better than any other detergent. Some do fine with various Eco powders and budget brands. Others don't.

I found I've had to adjust to every new appliance for various reasons. Discussions like these can be useful or useless depending on what you buy and how you use it.

This post was edited by rococogurl on Sat, May 25, 13 at 12:38

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 10:40AM
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So if you only run your dishwasher every four or five days, how often do you have to take dirty things out because you really want to use something waiting in the dishwasher? measuring cup, pot lid, special pan...

And if you leave them dirty, no rinsing, don't they begin to smell (fish, meat, rotting vegies)?

And don't you need extras of many things so some can be dirty in the dishwasher?

If you have a big enough family to run it every day, I can sort of see it. But if you have to wait four days for a load, it seems crazy.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 11:00AM
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I may be wrong but I thought all DWs heated the water to the proper temperature. The manual for my KA recommends running the water first but I never bother and everything works fine. I really think it's just a tradeoff between having the DW take longer (and more electricity) to heat the water, or having your water heater do it and use more water in the process.

I also remember reading recently that with enzyme detergents it's better not to run the water first because the water will be too hot initially and disrupt the enzymes.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 12:57PM
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Donaleen, some things that I will use more often than I run the DW just get immediately washed by hand and put away. Measuring cups for example -- the stuff you measure, like sugar or flour, is not bacteria laden and "sanitizing" is not a concern (people are overly concerned with that IMO anyway, clean is adequate!). As we talked about in another thread, some things I am going to hand wash, like my good knives or my hard anodized pots, anyway, it only takes a few minutes.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 1:46PM
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But weissman, here's what doesn't make sense to me. If the first rinse is cold and the DW has a cold hookup then it makes no sense to run the water to get it hot. It doesn't need to be hot right away. Then the DW heats it.

If the hook up is hot (most) then simply doing the initial cold rinse will have the machine pull enough cold water to allow the hot to come up and there will be enough hot water for the wash.

I think these manuals get "edited" and then no one rereads them or the people who write & edit them don't talk to the people who design the machines.

F.ex. My china/crystal cycle washes with 115 degree water. That requires a cold fill but the current manual says cold or hot is ok.
Except you can't have only a hot fill and have that temperature be exact -- depends on the water heater setting. And there's no cold water inlet (unlike the washer machine which has both and can mix the water to bring it to a certain temp). Yet the manual says hot or cold are ok.

If someone is prerinsing dishes and the detergent doesn't have enough food to work on, then there could be etching issues. But if the detergent is cut back and the water isn't very soft there might not be.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 1:58PM
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I am glad to have a good old American made dishwasher that just cleans the dishes whether I pre-rinse (mostly) or not (sometimes), that I don't have to cut my dw tabs for, that has heated dry so I don't have drippy stuff when unloading, and that doesn't etch my glassware.

It's just a good old workhorse ... probably an environmental hog, but I love it all the same. :-)

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 2:07PM
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taggie - what brand/model is it? It sounds like it does a good job - do tell!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 3:29PM
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Donaleen, I agree with Raee. I handwash some stuff, e.g., my small frying pan, which I might use everyday or more often. I only have one and I know I'm likely to need it again before I run the DW. It's really not a hardship. If I know the DW's full and needs to be run, I might throw it in. I run the DW either when it's full or I'm out of something, e.g., bowls. Measuring cups, usually a quick rinse or wipe and back in the drawer they go. I'm not overly concerned with sanitizing some things.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 3:31PM
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Oh, and here is something unexpected that I noticed about DW detergent & cleaning...

All of a sudden my dishes were not getting clean--like, the tannins from my tea still on the mug interior for example. I thought at first that the age of the DW had caught up with it (it is over 15 years old I believe, can't really remember when I put it in!). I started putting just a drop of liquid detergent in with the Cascade, which helped. But then I finally figured it out -- the box of Cascade had gotten wet from a leak under the sink. I never imagined that that could harm its effectiveness, and the box was nearly full and seemed fine after drying out. But, once I got a new box, the DW was getting everything sparkling again.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 5:15PM
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Fori is not pleased

I don't prewash. I postwash--if something doesn't get clean, I'll wash it myself (or put it back in for another go). You waste a lot less water that way.

I also dislike water and sludge from rinsed dishes dripping all over.

I REALLY dislike it when people rinse dishes and stack them on the counter to be loaded. EW.

My spouse insists on rinsing if there are particles or goo on dishes even though the goo just goes down a drain either way. This is annoying. Spouse drives an electric car charged by solar power but won't conserve water.

I left the water on all night in my (low-water usage) butterfly garden though and I don't even remember when I turned it ON yesterday...guess we all have issues.

This enzyme or whatever issue though--all I've ever heard is apocryphal and much is bordering on absurd. I find it hard to believe that enzymes eat dishes when they can't get ketchup. Organics and glassware are NOT subject to the same types of chemical reactions, so that just seems like hooey.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 10:08PM
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I've seen someone over in Appliances run this test before so I thought I'd give it a whirl. Here's the dirty dishes resulting from a batch of cream cheese swirl brownies I made this afternoon. I usually scrub the brownie batter out before putting the bowl in the DW as my DW can't get this much gunk off of bowls or pans. For this experiment, I'm putting all of this straight in as-is. I'll run the DW later tonight and take a picture tomorrow to show the results.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 12:55AM
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Breezy, I just gotta ask about the large bowl that looks like it contained the brownie batter. Did you wipe it down or was it licked clean? It just seems very devoid of goo except in the corners.

I hope it was licked clean. I mean, what's the point of making brownies if someone doesn't get that treat?

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 1:07AM
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Dishwasher Fictions

Hand-washing dishes rather than running the dishwasher saves water and electricity

This is one of our all time favorite misconceptions. Many homeowners believe they're helping the environment and reducing their water bill by washing dishes the old-fashioned way rather than using a dishwasher. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Modern dishwashers use, on average, 1-1.5 kilowatt hours of energy and 3.7 gallons of water (an amount equal to one full kitchen sink). Take into consideration how many full sinks you use to wash a pile of dishes and the amount of water you use for rinsing the dishes and it's easy to see how wrong this myth is. Washing by hand consumes much more water than using your dishwasher, especially when you consider that washing dishes by hand is a daily affair whereas you may only run your dishwasher only every 2 or 3 days. Your dishwasher is one of your most efficient appliances. In most localities (excluding the cost of detergent) it costs between 12â and 20â to wash a load of dishes.

So if you are going "Green" and thinking about leaving the dishwasher out of your new kitchen to help the environment, forget it. Buy the most efficient dishwasher you can afford. Stop washing by hand, just load dirty dishes as they are used into the dishwasher until it is full, then push the magic button. .

Dishes should be "pre-rinsed" before being washed in a dishwasher

Many thousands of people seem devoted to removing every spec of food from their dinnerware before putting it in the dishwasher.

You can eliminate this "pre-rinse" for any dishwasher newer than 20 years old because it does not help your dishwasher get your dishes any cleaner. Moreover, re-rinsing may actually harm your dishes because pre-rinsing causes the concentration of alkaline in dishwasher detergent to rise to high levels. Dishwasher detergents are made to clean stuck-on grease and grime. With no grease and grime to attack, the alkaline in the detergent attacks your dishes instead, making them appear cloudy, scratched and in some cases, actually etching the surface.

Scrape away large bits of food, but don't pre-rinse. By not pre-rinsing, you will save about 14,000 gallons of water each year. That 14,000 gallon figure is NOT a typo.

For more information on saving water, follow the link below

Here is a link that might be useful: Saving Household Water

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 12:55PM
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Maybe they should develop a detergent for the pre-rinsers around the world. Seems to be a good number of us on GW.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 1:06PM
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There is another side to all those harsh chemicals... chemical residue left on dishes and washed down our drains....

Here is a link that might be useful: dishwasher chemicals

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 1:34PM
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LOL, Linelle! No, the bowl was not licked. I'm just a really good scraper. It makes me want to scream at the cooking shows on TV when they leave 1/4 cup of the bowl contents in the bowl without scraping! I sometimes lick the brownie whisk, but, as you can see in the above photo, I didn't this time. I just put it straight in the DW. I have a nasty cold and can't taste much. I was, however, hoping that a baked brownie would taste good. It did. :)

Here's how those gross, un-pre-rinsed and un-pre-washed bowls and utensils looked when they emerged from the DW.

Wow! I'm impressed. And, thanks to this thread, I have finally convinced DH after three years of trying that he doesn't need to pre-wash the dishes! Hooray!

You know me. I'm never one to talk about food and not show a picture. Cream cheese swirl brownie heaven.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 1:49PM
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Breezy: that brownie is making me hungry! Great before and after pic. Maybe I'll do a test load without pre rinsing...whenever I get my kitchen back and can actually use a DW :)

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 3:27PM
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My new DW arrives tomorrow, so the old Kenmore is about to be run for the last time. RIP. I'm not rinsing anything out of respect for its swan song...except for the plate with all the egg yolk. Time to turn over a new leaf.

So, it sounds like it's all about the detergent. I do think it's great that the new ones use so little water. I'm guessing that less water means the detergent has to supply more muscle, and less food to attack means it turns its attention to the plates and glasses themselves.

Breezy, I when my mom would get out the rubber spatula to scrape batter into a pan, I'd scream, "No, don't scrape it all out!!!" Licking the bowl was the whole point of baking, kinda still is.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 3:49PM
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Breezy - those brownies look amazing. Did the dishes come out clean?

I don't rinse - just put in the DW - 99% come out perfect and the 1% is easy to fix and a lot less messy.

I have to share one of my favorite You Tube videos - She gave GP an ipad and wants to know if he is using it. If the link doesn't work - just type in ipad chopping board

After you watch it, you know the answers - why is he rinsing it before putting it in the DW. Enjoy :-) I use this in my classes when I need a fun break.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 4:10PM
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1.5 years ago we heard about this "DWs actually need food to clean better" advice from sales person when we purchased our current DW. We thought it was weird, but decided to conduct a few experiments before believing it.

We tried different scenarios, with different water temperature, wash setting, time duration, with or without prewashing dishes; the results were all the same, dishes and silverware came out of DW are of the same cleaning condition. Nothing got etched even if we prewash the dishes very well before loading them.

The only difference is if we did not have full load, and waited until next day, the dirty dishes came out of DW with dried food clued on, the leftover chocolate ice-cream on the ice cream bowl became a brown coating. What is going on, were there plenty food for detergent to hold on???. We would have to remove food particles and hand rewash them and put in the DW, then again, nothing get etched.

When using the new DW, the only difference that may be caused by the "new detergent" was there were some patches marks on the dishes, they looked like etches, but they were not. Occasionally adding lemi-shine to the DW, get rid of this problem all together.

Since then we both think "DWs actually need food to clean better" is an urban legend. It has the same credibility as "adding 1/2 cup of cooking vinegar to the full wash load and run through a cycle" will damage wash machines.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 4:15PM
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This thread has given me the courage to take the step - load the dishwasher without rinsing first. That was hard to do!!! So for the past 3 days it had dishes loaded with dried egg, bowls with dried chocolate (I did wipe out chunks), a bowl with dried tuna, and various other yucky items that didn't touch water first.

Everything came out sparkling clean. I'm now a believer. My dishwasher is a lower-end Bosch, only about 6 weeks old. I used my regular dishwasher detergent (powder Cascade) and JetDry rinse.

All good!


    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 6:21PM
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Yay Bonnie! What model Bosch do you have? Mine's more at the budget end.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 6:29PM
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Linelle--I agree about licking the bowl and the beaters and the spatula and the spoon and the.....

A2--look again! The picture directly above the brownie pic IS the clean dishes. They all came out perfectly clean! Sorry about the confusion. I staged the clean dishes just like in the dirty photo.

Azmom--the etching doesn't occur over one wash. It's a longer-term symptom. Besides, as we've learned, not pre-washing is better for the environment in terms of less water and energy usage.


    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 6:36PM
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Like Bonnie, I have a lower end Bosch and don't pre-rinse, use Cascade powder, and rinse aid, and the Bosh rocks my world. My old KA left gritty residue everywhere. Linelle, I think you'll love the Bosch.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 6:38PM
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Holly- Kay

I am really going to try my best to use my new dw with no pre washing and very little pre rinsing. With that being said what is the best dw detergent?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 6:59PM
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I've just unloaded most of my DW and need to create a new mess to help fill up the next load. I will be cutting more tabs in half for that because it's easier to grab one of those than pour in too much powder or gel in the dark. Those of you who also forget to turn on the DW due to age-related ADD may know what I'm talking about.

For a while I had a supply of Miele tabs with biodegradable, dissolving wrappers which is really putting a fine point on the concept of "less work." There is at least one other person on this forum who I could name -- but won't -- who continues to use those. When my supply ran out I switched to tabs that had to be removed from the wrappers. Once I forgot and the tab was still in the cup after the load was done. But the dishes were clean so who knows what residual soap from previous loads lurks in the nether regions.

Linelle, I hope you enjoy your new DW.

And breezy, would you kindly post the recipe for those brownies?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 7:20PM
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Sure Rococo. The recipe came from Martha Stewart. I saw the recipe when it aired on TV in July 2002 and have been making them ever since. I rarely make any other kind now. It's fun to experiment with the types of chips used in the cream cheese batter. Semi-sweet are still my favorite.

Here is a link that might be useful: Swirl brownies

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 8:03PM
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Breezy - double thanks - if you have a chance - watch the you tube - it is so funny and so appropriate for this thread. If looks could kill, GP wouldn't be around much longer.
I will have to try the swirl brownies.

Azmom - either you have the wrong DW or wrong detergent. I toss some pretty dirty items into DW and wow - very few things don't come clean and much easier to deal with those few than the many plus no wasted water..

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 8:08PM
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Thanks ever so much breezy.

Hilarious video a2.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 8:29PM
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holly-kay, I found out about Finish "quantum" (not regular Finish) and Method tabs on the appliance forum. I use Quantum for my heavy loads with lots of pots. I also like Method's grapefruit-rose fragrance and those are easy to cut.

Etching can occur after 1 wash and it can be seen immediately. I lost an entire set of W-S glasses to etching and I have a few other pieces that are partially etched. People with whole-house water softeners are especially prone to that -- how I found out about all this. Some people never have an issue as it really depends on the water.

This post was edited by rococogurl on Tue, May 28, 13 at 7:57

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 8:30PM
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A2: that video is hilarious! Thanks for the laugh :)

Holly-Kay: I heard that Finish tabs are good but I haven't used them yet. Now I'll have to wait until the new DW is installed before I can try it out.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 8:51PM
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Like mabel..I have had my Bosch low end of the price range for 7 yrs. I use Cascade powder...I pour in whatever... and Rinse aid. I rinse my dishes cursorily under the faucet. My glasses are 7 yrs old also. They look new. Whatever you guys are paying for in "high end" dishwashers is bogus....mine is and has been perfect and no fuss or measuring or etching. sigh...

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 8:55PM
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a2, breezy,

We use Cascade powder and occasionally add Lemi-Shine. If we wash a load in the same day, everything is sparkling clean.

I have been blaming our extremely dry climate that dries everything in a hurry and makes overnight dirty dishes hard to clean.

We should also take blame for rinsing dishes, it is a horrible thought of having dirty dishes left in DW for a couple of days.

You may be right. Sounds like we need to make behavior adjustment.

We are not sure which DW to order for the upcoming kitchen remodeling, DH is thinking about taking advantage of Thermador promotion after hearing DD constantly complains about her Bosh.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 9:05PM
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My low3end Bosch model is SHX33RF5UC. I got it at Lowes.

I'm still getting used to loading it - it's quite a bit different from my old KA. But nice and quiet, and No More Pre-Rinsing! :-)


    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 12:01AM
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My low-end Bosch model is SHX33RF5UC. I got it at Lowes.

I'm still getting used to loading it - it's quite a bit different from my old KA. But nice and quiet, and No More Pre-Rinsing! :-)


    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 12:02AM
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breezy-those brownies look delish! I also am a spatula licker, bowl scraper, spoons, whatever has some leftovers in it (raw egg warnings and all)...with 2 boys lined up right behind me wanting some too!

I think my over-rinsing tendencies come from the reinforcement my DW gives every time I pull a dirty dish out of a completed wash load that in my opinion should have been clean....I hope with a new DW maybe I can experience this no rinse bliss. I am very intrigued by the quiet and good wash reviews of the bosch.

2 things that normally end up cemented on and are thoroughly scrubbed before entering the DW:
grated parmesan cheese

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 8:36AM
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If etching is mostly attributable to whole-house water softeners, maybe I'm in luck. I just checked my city's water hardness and it says 5-something. Do the hardness components cancel out the etching components? That sounds promising.

Last night was the old Kenmore's final run. I put in a cookie sheet with stuck eggplant (first time ever washing a cookie sheet in the DW) and a gas burner (an attempt at baba ghanoush that ended up getting tossed). Other dishes went in unrinsed. The old girl cleaned everything perfectly. Waah, I'll miss her, noisy and white-plasticky as she was. She just did her job without pretense. I will miss her wide open spaces and niches that would accommodate just about anything. Sniff.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 10:29AM
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