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DYDT: Clean Dishes

Updated at the Bottom

The utensils-up-utensils-down question that Blanche threw out there is so interesting because I’ve never considered putting the utensils with the tines of the fork facing down and had no clue that others did this.  Also, the reasons why people don’t leave their utensils facing up mostly don’t apply in our situation.  (1) Our basket is shallow enough that I never touch the top of the utensil as I grab out the bouquet of forks — I can grab the handle.  (2) There are no dogs or small children who come anywhere near the dishwasher that could impale their hand or tongue on the tip of a butter knife.  (3) I wash all of our utensils before I place them in the dishwasher, therefore, I also don’t get my hands dirty dropping in dirty forks, heads up.

Yes, I wash all of our dishes before I wash all of our dishes (and Blanche told me to tell all of you that because it goes right along with my bleach obsession.)

I hand wash pots and pans and place those in the drying rack.  And I hand wash sharp knives.  But everything else gets hand washed and then placed in the dishwasher.  There is not one drop of food left on the plates before they enter the dishwasher itself, hence why our dishwasher is also spotless inside.  I also sometimes bleach the inside of the dishwasher, but that is a different story.

I know that most of you are reading this and thinking, “that is incredibly wasteful.”  But there will also be some of you reading this who say, “I do the exact same thing.”  And you people understand why I inexplicably wash the dishes before I wash the dishes.  That to not do so feels all kinds of wrong.

There must be more people out there who wash their dishes before they wash their dishes.

I should add that our dishwasher is a “dairy” dishwasher, meaning, we have two separate sets of dishes, utensils, pots and pans: one for meat and one for dairy.  And we only use the dishwasher for dairy dishes and utensils.  All meat dishes and utensils get washed by hand and then dried.  We eat “dairy” meals — meaning any meal sans meat — more often than meat meals.

Our kitchen is very very complicated.  But it totally makes sense inside my head.  And there are ribbons on the cabinets to let visitors know if things are “meat” or “dairy.”

So… am I the only pre-dishwasher dish washer?

(And feel free to ask any kosher kitchen questions since I know you probably have them since I just revealed that I have at least two of everything in my kitchen.)


This is getting more and more interesting.  We don’t run our dishwasher every day.  We run it every third day or so.  Perhaps that also lends itself to the fact that we wash the dishes before we wash the dishes.  If not, that food would be sitting on the plates in the dishwasher for three days.

I also will use the same water glass throughout the day.  So I don’t take a new glass with each meal — only one that lasts the whole day.

We end up with a lot of visiting kids in the house, hence how we can fill the machine in three days.  But if no one comes over our house during the week, it could take us even longer to fill the dishwasher.


1 Mommy-At-Last { 07.01.13 at 7:58 am }

My Mother used to pre-wash the dishes, drove me totally batty, I mean why bother having a dish washer if you are going to do the job yourself. And aren’t you using twice as much water as is necessary.

Anyway as I get older, I realise my mother was not along in her clean freak (and I hope that isn’t insulting, I really did love my Mom)

2 Kate (Bee In The Bonnet) { 07.01.13 at 8:12 am }

The dishes only get hand-washed pre-dishwasher if I’m rewashing stuff that H has hand-washed. Otherwise, they get rinsed of any big chunks and dropped straight into the dishwasher.

And TINES DOWN?? That’s just pure insanity. The part that goes in your mouth is the part that needs the full pressure of the dishwasher’s spray! (But yeah, that’s another thing that H sometimes does that I think is totally against my sensibilities… tines down, tines up, forks laying with spoons, knives with spatulas… wrong!!)

3 Chickenpig { 07.01.13 at 8:45 am }

Very wasteful on water and power. Also, most dishwashers have a sanitary setting, so they can wash at a heat to kill all bacteria. The removal of food particles isn’t necessarily the removal of bacteria. We compost here, and I have a garbage disposal so the plates are scraped of compost food and then rinsed in the garbage disposal sink quickly in cold water. If you have a well, like we do, and 5 people you have to be water conscious. (although with the rain we are getting this year I don’t think our well will have a problem any time soon.) The dishwasher that came with the house crapped out, and the new one we bought has a utensil basket that I hate. It is tall and is on the door so I find the utensils don’t get clean unless the are always handle down, even though I rinse them first. The only good thing about it being on the door the way it is is that when the door is opened, all forks and knives are out of harms way.

Your washing before washing is very interesting. In states with very strict water rationing, how would you do this? I’m thinking washing all dishes in a large basin with bleach so as not to run water? Looking around at my messy house right now I’m thinking “I wish I could be at Mel’s.” 🙂

4 Mali { 07.01.13 at 8:49 am }

We generally rinse most dishes and cutlery before they go in the dishwasher. (By most, I have to say my husband rinses everything, and I sneak in plates etc that haven’t been rinsed off, if I’m going to turn it on straight away.) So yes, we wash the dishes before we wash the dishes. Can make it a bit confusing to remember if we’ve actually run the dishwasher, or if the dishes just look clean.

5 Mali { 07.01.13 at 8:55 am }

PS. Can I say that I totally understand the “meat” and “dairy” issue now, having just visited Israel? At Yad Vashem, the cafeteria was divided into two – a meat section, and a dairy section. Oh, and I loved, loved, loved the kosher “dairy” food available everywhere there.

6 Mina { 07.01.13 at 9:00 am }

Late for the debate, as always…

Your way of loading up the dishwasher is pretty much the same as mine. I am a bit more lax about the order of things, when there are too many glasses, the bowls can go for a ride downstairs. And the utensils go handle down, because it is easier.
I rinse the plates if I know I will not be starting the dishwasher that day, to avoid stinking up the machine. Otherwise, I rely on the power of the dishwasher (THE harshest environment man made for his house) and on that of the detergent (which is so strong nowadays that it pulverises any speck of food).
I have to admit that I have a strange passion for washing dishes by hand. I even love washing glasses until they squeak. I still wash children’s dishes by hand, since they need them ten times a day if I don’t. I feel weirdly accomplished having done it. But thankfully I don’t feel unaccomplished when I do not wash dishes, which my hands are grateful for.

7 Mina { 07.01.13 at 9:10 am }

And may I just say that I love this DYDT concept?! It’s like peeking in each other’s houses and HEADS, which beats any reality show people say they don’t watch, but are strangely very up to date with its going-ons. 🙂
What is the next question, please? 😀

8 Gail { 07.01.13 at 9:25 am }

We don’t wash the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. We rinse off the food and big chunks, but that’s it. We put bowls and plates on the bottom rack and the top rack is for glasses, cups, tupperware, water bottles and serving spoons. The utensil tray is on the bottom and we put our utensils with the handles up because I’ve always had dogs and was always told it was safest that way for both the dogs, small humans and person unloading the dishwasher. Everything gets clean without a problem. And, even though there are only 2 humans (adults) in our house, we still run the dishwasher at least once a day.

9 Tigger { 07.01.13 at 10:15 am }

I rinse the majority of the food off before they go into the dishwasher. I loathe having dishes that don’t get clean and therefore have to go back into the washer. We go through a lot of dishes, and I have to do dishes at least every 4 days, if not more often. Child only has 4 juice sippies and, according to him, juice does not go in the milk sippies. 😉

10 magpie { 07.01.13 at 10:41 am }

our dishwasher has a third tray for flatware – so the forks lie down. because i am compulsive, the knives are laid out at one end (because they are straight) and the forks and spoons at the other (because their curves nest together).

11 It Is What It Is { 07.01.13 at 11:46 am }

I miss our dishwasher at our old house as it had a 3rd tray (at the bottom) where I could load some trays (facing down) and my husband’s big BBQ utensils. Also, the 2nd tray had height adjustment so I could wash tall things (serving platters, cookie sheets and such). Miss it.

I NEVER rinse anything. All left over food and particles go into the trash can and the plate/bowl/dish goes into to the dishwasher as is. We live in drought stricken So CA and I’ve known about water conservation since I was a wee one (turn off the water while you are brushing your teeth, if you don’t have a low flow toilet, only flush poop right away, pee every 2-3 times unless company is coming), don’t run the faucet while hand washing items, only fill the sink tub 1/4 of the way, rinse all items at the same time, etc) so it feels unconscionable to me to rinse items practically clean and then wash them again in the dishwasher. Do one or the other but not both.

Water is a limited resource and they are talking water rationing here.

12 Ellen K. { 07.01.13 at 11:46 am }

I will briefly scrub plates and utensils before loading them, if something is caked on or I’ve noticed the dishwasher hasn’t been rinsing as well lately. Utensils are handles down.

I don’t mind handwashing dishes. There is something quieting and, if you’re working with another person, rather companionable in the act.

The separate cleaning makes sense given the kosher kitchen guidelines. But you’ve mentioned the daily use of bleach before — you really should find a substitute product if you are using it that regularly. My husband is an i.ndust.rial h.ygien.ist (environmental health [I used periods because it’s a small field]) and thinks bleach-based products should only rarely be used in a household setting. It’s extremely irritating to the mucous membranes. Health guidelines usually refer to “overuse of” or “insufficient dilution of” bleach — both are risks. I use GreenWorks non-chlorine bleach for laundry, and that’s it. My best friend used to use bleach-based spray on a daily basis and had several bouts of bronchitis every winter. DH is very rational and clinical about exposures, and not hard-core “green” by any means, so on the extremely rare occasions that he freaks out, I take it seriously.

13 jjiraffe { 07.01.13 at 12:07 pm }

Our dishwasher sucks (I mean it really, really sucks: it’s a sanitizer only) so we HAVE to wash off all dishes and silverware before they go in. One thing I am awesome at? Packing the dishwasher so amazingly well that I only have to use it every few days. Which saves water. Tines always go down in our house. The dishwasher is in the middle of the kitchen and I load it frequently (so it’s open frequently) and I have kids who are very active and don’t look where they are going.

14 k { 07.01.13 at 12:25 pm }

Ok, I keep meaning to reply to this:

A) silverware goes “head” down. tines, blade, spoon. Etc… Rationale? Honestly? When the heads are up they don’t get as clean. It’s always been this way regardless of the dishwasher. It’s noticeably different. Not sure why.

B) As for the “prewash” it depends. If it’s a glass baking dish and stuff is caked on, it gets a soak and a halfhearted prewash then goes into the dishwasher. Otherwise everything gets rinsed. I don’t like food in my dishwasher clogging it, so I’ll rinse them so they are free of food debris than throw them in.

C) I’m not OCD about how the dishes get loaded in there, but for the most part bowls and cups on top, everything else on the bottom.

15 Jamie { 07.01.13 at 12:36 pm }

Honestly, I think it’s gross when people put disgusting dishes in the dishwasher. I am a pre-wash kind of girl. Also, I used to put my silverware down until I read about the “proper” way to load which encouraged silverware going up (bouquet style).

16 a { 07.01.13 at 12:43 pm }

So here’s my kosher question – does beef count as meat or dairy? Also, what’s the rationale behind this whole separation? I’m sure I’ve heard it but I don’t remember. And I could look it up, but since you said you’d answer questions… 🙂

I will sometimes rinse dishes before they go in the dishwasher. It depends on what was on there and how long it will be sitting before I run the dishwasher (about once a week in our house). Dried ketchup doesn’t come off, so it gets rinsed.

Regardless, my husband has lately insisted on handwashing everything. Also, our dishwasher is technically broken, since it doesn’t dispense the soap and we have to open it, throw soap in, and restart it every time.

17 Denver Laura { 07.01.13 at 2:59 pm }

I just follow whatever my dishwasher directions tell me to do. Currently, tines are up, knife points are down.

As a side but somewhat related note, I have 2 coolers for camping. One is “food” and the other is “V” for vegetarian. Basically, beer goes in there. I didn’t want to write “beer” since it would probably be stolen. Also didn’t want “K” as we are not strictly kosher either. We did that so that if meat spills into the cooler, we don’t have to throw out everything. So lettuce, condiments, etc. goes into the “V” cooler.

18 Melanie { 07.01.13 at 4:20 pm }

Growing up my mom, and especially my Stepdad, were adamant that the dishes were washed til they looked clean before putting them in the dishwasher. When I got my first apartment and didn’t have a dishwasher for the first time in my life, I didn’t know what to do. Because just washing them once, by hand, didn’t seem like enough. Since it was only half of what I was used to doing. It really messed with me for awhile. Putting the dishes away after only hand washing seemed unsanitary. I got over that eventually and now have a dishwasher of my own. Now that im used to just one washing, I just rinse off the big chunks and stick em right in. A pot or pan with caked on things I will let soak awhile before putting it in. We have a brand new really nice dishwasher and I always run it on the highest level and hit the sanitize and high heat buttons as well. That’s probably wasteful as well, but I figure they are going in dirty so it needs the full treatment.

19 Jendeis { 07.01.13 at 5:00 pm }

I always wash the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, and it drives me absolutely batty when my MIL doesn’t and says she’s helping.

Re: silverware, it goes points down – handles up, no exceptions. Again, my MIL does this wrong.

20 Siochana { 07.01.13 at 7:00 pm }

Wow, you must have a really clean and organized kitchen Mel. I admire you for that. I never wash or rinse dishes before putting in the dishwasher. I will scrape excess food off them. Why don’t I? Well because I’m lazy, and isn’t the whole purpose of a dishwasher to allow me to be lazy?

I used to be anti-dishwasher. I grew up without a dishwasher and one of our responsibilities was to help with dishes, which I eventually accepted (I went through a phase of finding dirty dishes GROSS and doing everything possible to avoid this chore, but I got over it.) My parents still don’t have a dishwasher, never will and they share dishwashing responsibilities. They are so efficient the dishes just seem to vanish. When my husband and I bought our house, it came with a dishwasher and for the first few months I refused to use it unless we had company and a lot of dirty dishes, because: 1) I thought it was wasteful on power/water for two people to use a dishwasher 2) I found it disgusting that dirty dishes could sit in a dishwasher for up to 24 hours and get all smelly. Hubby went along with me because he is nice that way.

Then at some point, I had a sudden revelation that if I let the dishwasher do the dishes, I COULD BE DOING SOMETHING ELSE MORE FUN!!! After that, the dirty dishes went in the dishwasher, all dirty dishes, without a rinse or a second thought. I still am grossed out by the smell, but I just make sure it is shut really tight. When it is full, I hold my nose, throw in the soap, shut it and let ‘er go. Or I tell hubby to do it. I’ve been even known to say things like “Who cares, it’s good enough” when dishes are not washed especially well. But the dishwasher does a pretty good job. Which is good, because I have more time for blogging and reading Stirrup Queens, among other things!

21 loribeth { 07.02.13 at 10:46 am }

I scrape & rinse the dishes (& soak some of the pots) before loading the dishwasher, but actually washing them — no way! That’s what the dishwasher is for. ; ) (Unless the dishwasher is already full, in which case, I will wash up the few dishes that are left by hand, rather than having them sit in the sink overnight.) In fact, my dishwasher instruction guide recommends NOT even rinsing, it says the machine works better that way. Go figure.

As for cutlery, the way my cutlery baskets are configured, I can only put the pieces in handles down, one per slot. Except for knives — the handles would be too thick to put through the slots, so they go in cutting side down. Which is probably just as well anyway. I do wash the good/sharp/non-table setting knives by hand.

We generally run the dishwasher once a day (and it’s usually pretty full) — we turn it on before we go to bed, & dh unloads it in the morning & leaves all the bowls & cutler & glasses that we use for breakfast out on the counter. Supposedly it’s a “quiet” dishwasher but it’s a small house so I find it noisy sitting in the living room while it’s on.

I try to use the same glass all day long for water. It’s something my parents encouraged — although when we’re all at their place, there can get to be a lot of glasses sitting around, & how do you know whose is whose?? My mother solved the problem a few years back by getting disposable cups & a sharpie marker. We write our names on the cup & reuse it during the day, and it gets washed (by hand) & reused while we’re all there.

@Siochana: A lot of dh’s relatives (when I first met them anyway), had dishwashers in their kitchen but rarely used them (“for company”) — still did most of their dishes by hand. I could never quite understand why you wouldn’t use it if you had it. It may have changed now that the kids have grown up & have their own homes, though. ; )

22 Bionic { 07.02.13 at 10:48 am }

I am just so jealous of you people who have dishwashers, I can hardly stand it.

23 Battynurse { 07.02.13 at 11:50 am }

The only washing before is the dog licking the plate clean. Now that you mention it I do also remember a fork tine being rammed under my fingernail prior to me switching to p,acing all utensils down. That may have been a motivating factor as well.

24 Amy Elaine { 07.03.13 at 8:17 pm }

LOL. I once had a roommate I should think of a dish-washer as a “sanitizer”. I informed him it is called a dish WASHER not a dish SANITIZER. He didn’t buy it. I rinse before putting my dishes in, but not thoroughly.

25 Justine { 07.05.13 at 9:20 pm }

Mostly pre-washer, depending on what the plate has been used for. Fork tines up, of course. So that (this is my crazy logic) the grime and goop drips down. Dishwasher gets run when it’s full, also every three days or so. I wash my glasses by hand and reuse them, because I get self-conscious about leaving them out … my husband tends to leave many of them out, so I err on the side of erasing any trace of my liquid consumption throughout the day. Also slightly crazy, but there it is.

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