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Don't rinse dishes before using dishwasher, Consumer Reports says

March 6, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
For lots of people, rinsing off dirty dishes before putting them in the dishwasher is automatic. But Consumer Reports dishwasher testers, who wash thousands of dishes every year, say that extra step is not necessary.

"We get our dishes dirty with some of the toughest food out there, like oatmeal, egg yolk, peanut butter, and tomato sauce," said Jim Nanni of Consumer Reports.

All the food is left to dry onto the dishes, and then scraped off. Testers then load each dishwasher with the exact same number of dishes. They use a standard detergent, the same one for each machine, as well as a rinse aid.

When the dishes come out, the best dishwashers leave them sparkling clean with no pre-rinsing required. And you'll save more than time.

"It's actually a waste of water to rinse your dishes, and if you're using hot water, a waste of energy, too," said Nanni.

Be sure to follow the dishwasher manual for loading dishes to make sure you get the cleanest dishes possible.

"I know it's a bore, but you really need to read the instruction manual for your dishwasher," said Nanni. "You need to follow the guidelines for loading that machine, so you get the cleanest dishes possible."

Some key points: Plates should be arranged so that the dirty side is facing in towards the center. And if your silverware basket has slots for utensils, use them. That way, spoons won't stick together, leaving food caught between them. Load your dishes properly, and they'll turn out as clean as the ones in Consumer Reports' test lab.

Consumer Reports says one of the best detergents you can buy is Cascade Action Pacs, which sells for about $4 for a bag of 20.