How to properly load a dishwasher: ‘If you pre-rinse it might actually come out dirtier’

Should you pay attention to ‘not dishwasher safe’ labels? And what really belongs in the bottom drawer? Experts solve your family washing-up conflicts

If you still feel the sting of parental reprimands for barbarically stacking your plate in the dishwasher without rinsing it first, one good thing 2020 can offer is vindication. While everyone has their own methods, tricks and opinions on conventional wisdom, the misinformation around a machine that’s meant to make our lives easier has caused generations-long feuds – and water wastage.

Fact: You do not need to pre-rinse. Just scrape the solids into the bin, says Ashley Iredale, white goods expert at the independent consumer advocacy group Choice. Most dishwashers have inbuilt turbidity sensors that measure how much dirt is in the water from the first rinse cycle, so rinsed plates may fool the system. “If you pre-rinse everything, your dishwasher’s going to think that your plates are cleaner than they actually are, so it won’t wash as intensely and they might actually come out dirtier,” says Iredale. The food filter is there for a reason, he adds – simply remove and clean it once a month.

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