The easiest way to save time, water, and money in the kitchen is to stop pre-rinsing your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. It may cause a kerfuffle in the family so to settle any disputes just try it. You’ll discover that the dishwasher doesn’t need your help and that, in fact, you could be making matters worse by causing the built-in soil sensor to misread the amount of dirt in the water.

Any dishwasher sold in the past five years for $500 or more has a sensor that checks how dirty the water is to determine how much water and how long a cycle is needed to get the dishes clean. If the sensor detects little or no debris, it gives the dishes a lighter wash than you may have expected, leaving dishes and glassware with bits of food stuck to them. You can take full advantage of this feature by just scraping leftover food off the dishes and leaving the rest for the dishwasher to tackle.

Still not convinced? Then think about the 1.7 to 6 gallons of water you use every minute you run your kitchen faucet at full blast trying to knock off that food waste. You’re also paying for the energy used to heat the water. The costs are starting to add up and all for something that you could stop doing while getting cleaner dishes. It’s a win-win.  

How to Get the Cleanest Dishes

  • Load your dishwasher according to the diagram in the manual. Not all dishwasher racks are the same.
  • Run the hot water in the sink before turning the dishwasher on to prevent the cycle from starting with cold water.
  • For optimal drying, all dishwasher manufacturers recommend rinse aid, which causes water to sheet off glassware and dishes.
  • Use a top-rated dishwasher detergent from Consumer Reports' tests. Our top single-dose detergent is Cascade Complete ActionPacs. For powders, try Cascade Complete Powder.

Top-Performing Dishwashers With Soil Sensors