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When loading dirty dishes into a dishwasher, there are a lot of things to consider


Sometimes, it feels like this nation is divided on everything from politics to sports teams. The list goes on.


Yeah. Wouldn't it be great if everyone could just sit down together and share a big meal?

MARTIN: Of course, a big meal means a big pile of dishes...

MARTÍNEZ: (Laughter).

MARTIN: ...And that means somebody in the cleanup crew is going to give each one a good rinse and load up the dishwasher.

MARTÍNEZ: But prerinsing your dishes is a waste of water and isn't even needed for sparkling dishes.

MARTIN: Opinions there, A?

MARTÍNEZ: (Laughter).

MARTIN: Like I said, we're so divided, even on dishwasher usage. One recent poll says 65% of Americans believe in a right way and a wrong way to load the dishwasher. So who is right?

CAROLYN FORTE: We don't recommend prerinsing at Good Housekeeping.

MARTÍNEZ: That's Carolyn Forte. She's executive director of the Home Care and Cleaning Lab at Good Housekeeping in New York.

MARTIN: And as with most things in life, timing is everything.

FORTE: If you aren't going to wash the load right away and you're just accumulating some dishes to wash later or a few days down the road, then we definitely recommend prerinsing.

MARTÍNEZ: In that case, Forte says, a prerinse will keep the food from sticking to the dishes, and it keeps odors in the dishwasher down. You do a prerinse. Then you just plop everything in the dishwasher.

MARTIN: Excuse me, A.

MARTÍNEZ: (Laughter).

MARTIN: Again, let me interject. You need to have a plan to meticulously load your dishwasher.

FORTE: You know, you want to think about - the fact is, if the water's not going to hit it, it's not going to get clean. So if things overlap, if bowls are blocking cups or things like that, you're not going to get good cleaning.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. I can hear already some listeners getting worked up. So whether you love a prerinse or not and you're a haphazard dish-loader versus a neatnik...

MARTIN: So why is this such a big deal anyway?

FORTE: I think you almost need a psychology degree to figure out - because it's beyond - it's actually beyond cleaning or having to do with the dishwasher itself. It's more about control - doing the way you think it's right - you know, how two people in the same household view it.

MARTÍNEZ: There you go. Control freaks everywhere rejoice. And I'm wondering how we just can't just make it all work.

FORTE: So do it in a way that's acceptable to both. Or just let one person do it. And the person who really is invested in it and, you know, really wants it done the right way - let them do it, and the other person can unload it. I think that's a nice compromise.

MARTIN: So, A, I will load with no wasteful prerinse.

MARTÍNEZ: Or I can load with a perfectly sanitary prerinse.

MARTIN: Or we can switch off. Either way, let's just agree to keep things clean, which Carolyn Forte can definitely get behind.

FORTE: A clean and organized home speaks to kind of calm and wellness and serenity, which I think is what we all want. And the bottom line is that dishes are not worth arguing over - not worth jeopardizing a relationship over the dishwasher.

MARTÍNEZ: As long as it is done right. Now, you know, Michel, I've heard of some households who prefer to hand-wash everything and just use the dishwasher as a drying rack. So do you think that would fly in your household?

MARTIN: A, I am the cook in my household, and I am not touching a dish.

MARTÍNEZ: Well, yeah.

MARTIN: That's it. That's it.

MARTÍNEZ: I think it's fair. If you're going to cook - yeah.

MARTIN: That's it.

MARTÍNEZ: You shouldn't even touch a dish.

MARTIN: That's it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Devan Schwartz
Devan Schwartz is an editor for NPR's Morning Edition. He is an experienced audio professional who, in addition to his work with NPR, has worked with such organizations as BBC, Slate, the New York Times, and various public radio stations.