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Dishwashers: do I really need a sanitary rinse or cycle??

Posted by three_daisies (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 15, 09 at 10:16

After having numerous problems with my Bosch DW, I am considering replacing not repairing. One thing (and pretty much the only thing) I do like about my Bosch is that it has a sanitary rinse on the regular cycle. The DWs that have the sani-wash type features seem to be more $$ than ones that don't.

So is it necessary? I have three germy kids but not sure how the sanitary feature is that much better than a normal wash in hot water. Seems like we did okay in the old days w/out a certified sanitary cycle or rinse in the DW? Thoughts?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Dishwashers: do I really need a sanitary rinse or cycle??

You can use the sanitary wash for canning jars and baby bottles. Or you can boil them. My mother (a nurse) liked it for when there was some really communicable disease in the house. Or you can boil.

No, you don't need it. But if you liked having it, and used it, it's probably worth the price. Look at it long term, instead of how much more you're paying for a DW than you've already just paid. Call it a 5 year bare minimum term of service. Say you use the sani-wash cycle on average once a month. That's 60 uses, minimum. Or $2-3 per use, if it costs another couple hundred dollars, plus energy and water. Is that worth it to you not to boil? Or would you use it twice a year? 10 times in five years. $20-30 plus energy and water? Maybe not.


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RE: Dishwashers: do I really need a sanitary rinse or cycle??

While a lot of older dishwashers didn't hit the temperatures needed for sanitizing the contents, I would hope that most of the current, high-end models do, special cycle or not.

170 is probably OK if your machine hits and holds it for a minute or two, from my reading. My decade-old Maytag does that without any special cycle.

From one summary I just found

Typical regulatory requirements (Food Code 1995) for use of hot water in dishwashing and utensil sanitizing applications specify: immersion for at least 30 sec. at 77C (170F) for manual operations; a final rinse temperature of 74C (165F) in single tank, single temperature machines and 82C (180F) for other machines. Many state regulations require a utensil surface temperature of 71C (160F) as measured by an irreversibly registering temperature indicator in ware washing machines. Recommendations and requirements for hot-water sanitizing in food processing may vary. The Grade A Pasteurized Milk Ordinance specifies a minimum of 77C (170F) for 5 min. Other recommendations for processing operations are: 85C (185F) for 15 min., or 80C (176F) for 20 min.

Here is a link that might be useful: One reference on sanitizing


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RE: Dishwashers: do I really need a sanitary rinse or cycle??

The second you open the dishwasher and stick your hands on a dish, it's no longer sanitary.

Plus, if you understand how infectious organisms work. . .It's rarely necessary to sterilize. Just rinsing something with warm water washes away most of the germs. Germs don't colonize unless there is a critical mass of them. So, for example, it's just as good to rinse a wound with warm water and use "clean" bandaging techniques as it is to use strong anti-microbials and sterile bandaging.

If you really want to worry about germs, scrub out your sink.


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RE: Dishwashers: do I really need a sanitary rinse or cycle??

"Sterilize" and "sanitize" are very different things. This is about "sanitize" -- cutting microbial levels to a point where colonization is unlikely. In contrast, home canning requires sterilization which is a much more stringent level of microbe removal.

"Just rinsing something with warm water" doesn't do very much. In fact, warmth (up to the point where most people consider the water "hot") will increase microbial growth rate. You need really need soap and physical scrubbing (modest, not the kind that makes your arm tired) to cut the levels to something generally small enough to be safe -- this works because you've removed the "food" for the microbes as much as the microbes themselves.

The comparison to healing isn't a fair one, as living things generally have their own, active anti-microbial systems. Last I checked, cutting boards didn't have white blood cells.


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RE: Dishwashers: do I really need a sanitary rinse or cycle??

Remember things in your dishwasher are things you ate off of. You've probably already exposed yourself to whatever is on them. (Cutting boards and other food prep things are the obvious exceptions.)

I don't know if my dishwasher has a sanitize cycle. I guess I don't care. It's not like I'm picking stuff up in the hospital and putting it in my dishwasher. It's MY germs. I already have it. Hot water and dish detergent have been good enough for me.


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RE: Dishwashers: do I really need a sanitary rinse or cycle??

You can find the sanitize feature on just about every price level of dishwasher now. While I would never recommend a GE appliance, even the bog-standard GE dishwashers have NSF-compliant sanitize cycles on them.

Is it necessary? From a microbiologist -- Probably not. Most people who get food poisoning get it from improperly-cooked food, not dirty dishes. Even at that, most cases of food poisoning come from restaurants. That said, all of my dishwashers have a sanitize cycle and I do use it.


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