Help me adult [NOT 22/4/21]

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Hi, friends! Advice and recommendation post!

I’ve only been in a functional dishwasher situation for about 2 years, and I (stupidly) didn’t use the dishwasher much until about 6 months ago. I was pretty dishwasher-averse because the only time I rented and had a dishwasher it was such a piece of old shit that gross things would happen. I’d run it and then when unloading find green bean chunks in the drain… despite not eating green beans on any of the dishes I’d put in there. Things like that.

Question – do I need to rinse dishes before going in there? I was at a cousin’s house a few days ago and she doesn’t even rinse at all. I don’t wash the dishes before going in the dishwasher, but I rinse off chunks. Sometimes things soak for a while in the sink before going in there.

In my head I feel like if I don’t rinse off, eventually it’s going to clog up and then I’ll have a big and stinky problem.



  1. I’ve only lived in two places that had dishwashers and one was the first house that Mrs. Butcher and I had so take this for what it’s worth. If it’s a new dishwasher then just make sure there aren’t any actual chunks of food. You don’t have to wash the dishes before you wash the dishes. 

  2. You don’t want to have say, hardened melted baked-on cheese on your plates or be dropping big chunks of brisket in your dishwasher. But you also don’t want  those plates too clean before they go in because the detergent needs something to work on, and can actually be too agressive on the surfaces of the glasses and dishes and damage them. So leave the tomato sauce and gravy and don’t rinse the cereal bowls or glasses.
    What I cannot yet recommend or condemn is enzyme drain cleaner I’m trying out to attack years of built up soap and hair and toothpaste crud in my drains. I’ve just started the process where you add a small amount weekly and it is suposed to gradually eat away at the goo that builds up all through the drain pipes. I’ll see if it helps. Fortunately things are just slow, not scarily congested.

    • I use an enzyme solution once a month in all my drains. But that’s because the main line out to the sewer is basically horizontal instead of tilting down to the sewer point. After twice having it clog (the first time the clog was mostly things like coffee grounds. As I don’t drink coffee, that time I was like yay this isn’t my stuff causing the clog. The second time, no, that was all me.), the techs told me to use the enzyme solution to help break things down and prevent clogging. 

  3. …when my folks first got a dishwasher there was a lot of stuff you had to do…keep it topped off with salt…clean out the filter so it didn’t back up…learn how to load it just so or things would get baked in instead of washed off…& glasses might come out opaque anyway

    …these days pretty much everything is part of the tablet/gel pack of detergent so if you rinse off the substantial stuff like others have said you can mostly just leave it at that & everything ought to work out fine…although I have a friend with one where the glasses still come out opaque if you don’t let it beep its way through some sort of drying cycle that takes like an extra hour…so hopefully you don’t have one of those…because that beep-every-three-minutes-for-an-hour thing is some kind of cruel & unusual psychological torture?

    • The damn thing takes like 2 hours for a standard normal cycle. I guess because it’s designed for minimal water waste? It’s like “spritz the dishes for 10 seconds, pause for 20 seconds, spritz for 10 seconds” for much of the cycle. 

  4. I use an additional rinse agent to prevent spots (Jet Dry). I use a bottle brush or water spray attachment on tall slim items. I scrape food waste into the garbage. You do not want food residue to clog the dishwasher. Spoons go into the flatware caddy bowl part up, knives and forks go in point down.

    But here is the thing, people are fussy about how one loads a dishwasher. Everyone I have lived with has had their own way of doing it and would rearrange it to their specifications. (Not me, as long it is loaded and run I am happy.)

    • Preach. My wife has this whole complicated format that must be observed lest the dishes … I dunno. Doesn’t seem to make any difference. The owner’s manual agrees with my assessment — as long as they’re not too close together you’re good. So when my wife complains about the way I load, I’m like cool, let me know when you’ve got things to your satisfaction and plop down in front of the television. By the way, this is also known as “winning an argument.” 

  5. I always rinse everything. I probably over-clean, but my very first apartment had the shittiest of old dishwashers (the kind you had to wheel over and connect by hose to the faucet!) where any residue was not going to get removed by the cycle, so that trained me. One of these days I’ll get past the mental hurdle and throw some stuff in there with sauce on it and see how it goes. But definitely never actual food pieces – that’s going to clog the drain and cause gross problems. 
    I also occasionally run an empty cycle with citric acid, which is really good at removing hard water buildup. 

  6. This is The Great Divide. We have a KitchenAid. I rinse as much as I can and run the dishwasher at 3/4 capacity, max. Kitchen Elf likes to dump everything in unrinsed and overload it, so you play Russian roulette. “What is this on this plate?” [Remnants of the dinner I made the night before.] Take a bite out of something. “Oh, this is disgusting. Did you overload the dishwasher again?” [Multiple forks and other cutlery unrinsed and crammed into the caddy.]
    It’s a wonder neither of us has succumbed to botulism yet.

    • An addendum: I’ve been working (“working”) from home for more than a decade now. Up until about three years ago Life’s Helpmeet had a corporate job and sometimes he’d come home and I’d have the dishwasher going.
      “Mattie, what are you doing? Did you have a lot of people over for lunch or something?”
      “Yes, the entire cast of ‘Wicked’, you just missed them. No. We’re having people over tonight. Remember? It was your idea and they’re more your friends than mine. I want them to eat off clean plates and drink out of clean glasses.”

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