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Why the Hell are there Soap Suds on the Washed Dishes?!


Mjx
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What with travelling a lot, increasingly few things strike me as really bizarre, but leaving the soap suds on washed dishes still freaks me out (I'm talking about the full complement of suds, not just overlooked flecks here and there). However, it seems fairly common in Denmark.

The first time I saw this, my initial reaction was shock (followed closely by relief, as I thought, 'YES! So that's what it is... I'm not developing IBS after all!'). I figured it was an oversight, so I mentioned it, and was told, 'Oh, we always do that'. So, I shut up, and soon sort of forgot about it, since I was processing lots of other new experiences, such as using a chain saw, smashing apart a fireplace to repurpose the bricks for a road surface, and trying to not lose a hand while helping to slaughter chickens.

The last time I saw soaps suds on the washing up was last night, and again, I wondered why. I didn't ask, since I knew the answer, which isn't really an answer.

Now I'm wondering whether any of you are familiar with this practice/a cogent-sounding rationale for it.

I'm neurotic enough to wash even my fruit and veg with soap and water, but I've always considered very thorough rinsing a crucial part of the washing process, and no matter where I've looked, I can't find anything that suggests that this is a good idea.

What gives?

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Perhaps it's some weird conservation of water thing. Is it done mostly by people who wash dishes in a sink full of sudsy water?

I dated a Canadian woman once, and she did exactly the same thing one night after we had eaten dinner. Once being the operative word.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Could it be caused by hard water? Does soap not "lather" as well as other places you've lived?

Thinking hard water may be the cause, I found this website to check. It reports:

Hard water can interfere with cleaning tasks – from laundering and dishwashing to bathing and personal grooming. Other telltale signs of hard water include:

Spots on dishes and glasses when dry.

Soap scum or film on glass shower doors, shower walls, bathtubs, sinks and faucets.

Might be worth finding out more about your water.

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Perhaps it's some weird conservation of water thing. Is it done mostly by people who wash dishes in a sink full of sudsy water?

I dated a Canadian woman once, and she did exactly the same thing one night after we had eaten dinner. Once being the operative word.

Doesn't seem like water conservation is a concern, since they have the water running fully open the entire time, and just soap everything up while gallons of water rush down the drain (and are amused by the fact that I first rinse the dishes, then turn off the water to scrub and soap, only turning it back on again to rinse).

Could it be caused by hard water? Does soap not "lather" as well as other places you've lived?

. . . .

Might be worth finding out more about your water.

The water is rock hard here, but that isn't the issue (I have no trouble fully rinsing dishes when I wash them): The things just aren't rinsed; sometimes they're passed briefly under the tap, other times just soaped and set on the drainboard. As I mentioned, we're talking a full complement of suds, not just residual scum.

It isn't just one generation doing this, either (for whatever that's worth).

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Are they drying the dishes or letting them air dry? I don't think I'd have to wonder about that soapy aftertaste anymore if they are airdrying.

That is just odd. I have really hard well water and always rinse everything that doesn't go in the dishwasher: pots and pans, knives, small appliances and coffee pots. I always dry them with a lintfree towel, too.

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My mother would leave soap residue on the dishes she washed and her only rinsing was pouring, at most, half of the drinking cup next to the faucet over the dishes in the rack. Believe me she never seemed to get much off...you might imagine the overkill approach I now use to make certain every bubble is gone down the drain. Water conservation be damned!

"A cloud o' dust! Could be most anything. Even a whirling dervish.

That, gentlemen, is the whirlingest dervish of them all." - The Professionals by Richard Brooks

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I had a German roommate who did this; she insisted that the soap slides off and it's not a problem. I do think this approach is more common in Europe.

Personally, I am really obsessive about washing all the soap off -- even if a little soap is left on the back of something, I'll take it back and rinse it again.

Edited by Will (log)
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I've heard about this practice (usually from people who rinse their dishes and are aghast at those who do not). Since the replies here are from Rinsers, and I'm a Rinser myself, I did a little googling. From a blog, this is what the Non-Rinsers say:

-- it's easier

-- it saves water

-- dishwashing detergent is not "toxic" (Note: this may be an incorrect assumption.)

-- as long as you can't taste the soap and the dishes look clean, what's the fuss?

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It boggles my tiny mind. I can't even imagine it - I would be rinsing my plate before I served myself. After they dry is there white matter/scum on the dishes?

The dishes are white, and the cutting boards wooden, so you don't see it so much, just some more matte-looking patches.

Have you tried using hotter water?

A different soap?

dcarch

I'm not the one doing this! But if you don't rinse, the type of soap/water temperature don't even enter the equation :sad:

I've heard about this practice (usually from people who rinse their dishes and are aghast at those who do not). Since the replies here are from Rinsers, and I'm a Rinser myself, I did a little googling. From a blog, this is what the Non-Rinsers say:

-- it's easier

-- it saves water

-- dishwashing detergent is not "toxic" (Note: this may be an incorrect assumption.)

-- as long as you can't taste the soap and the dishes look clean, what's the fuss?

GRRRRR... My responses to the non-rinsers' points (not directed at you!):

-- Lazy sods!

-- Then why are you running the water the entire time you're soaping the dishes?! All the non-rinsers I know do just that!

-- It may not be toxic, but I don't enjoy diarrhea, and I'm not the only one who reacts this way to ingested dish soap (I actually thought I was developing IBS!).

-- Especially in drinking glasses, you can taste the soap, and you don't wash things just to make them look clean, but to actually make them so. I mean, why wash them at all, just wipe them with a damp cloth.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I don't think I could live/work/eat someplace where the non-rinsers were in the majority. My palette has broadened considerably since I was younger, but I still have quite a few pet peeves to work through when it comes to food, including underdone eggs, excess fat on pieces of meat, and SOAP everywhere. And of course, anything that made me think I was developing IBS would annoy me to no end!

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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I thought we had an earlier thread on this--specifically about non-rinsers in England? I can't find it now, though. Well, regardless, I have heard somewhere that this practice is especially common in England. I find it horrifying. It's not just that the soap is left on there, but so is everything else that's dissolved in the wash water. I have to say that in my experience, most people are very lazy rinsers, doing nothing more than waving the item once under the running water. A symbolic gesture at most.

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Middle to end of week when I return from a day in the classroom, particularly in the second half of term? Yes. There will be suds on the dishes. Rinsing requires that little bit of extra energy I just don't have.

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

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Could it just be habit from when they just had one sink in a kitchen ?

I know when I was growing up before my parents redid the kitchen and put in a double sink the only real rinse the dishes got were a quick plunge to clear a spot on the top of the sudsy water before pulling it out and then into the rack and a bit of water poured over the rack afterwards. Once we had the double sink rinsing became standard.

"Why is the rum always gone?"

Captain Jack Sparrow

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Whats up with you people?There is an old English saying you need to eat a peck of dirt a day. Surely the reason there is so much focus on health and allergies in the US and other places peopled by cleanliness nutters is because of to much concern with cleanliness.Contact with a reasonable amount of dirt and germs builds up resistances,failure to do this is the reason life expectancy is less in the US than in some countries.

Sid the Pig

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Whats up with you people?There is an old English saying you need to eat a peck of dirt a day. Surely the reason there is so much focus on health and allergies in the US and other places peopled by cleanliness nutters is because of to much concern with cleanliness.Contact with a reasonable amount of dirt and germs builds up resistances,failure to do this is the reason life expectancy is less in the US than in some countries.

Well, there are other old sayings that warn you against me as demon-spawn, because I'm left-handed, and that assure you that when the moon is 'laying one her back', it's going to rain :raz: .

Soap isn't dirt (making that entire argument irrelevant), but a chemical cocktail designed to be rinsed away, nothing in it is going to do a spot of good, in term of building resistance to disease.

For the record, I find this practice more inexplicable than horrifying.

Fortunately, most of the dishes end up in the dishwasher, but the outliers get the 'soap and lay out to dry' treatment.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I am left handed also. Made a mistake in my last post should have said eat a peck of dirt in a lifetime,thats a quarter of a bushel.Always took dirt to mean any substance not intended for consumption that would surely include soap. :rolleyes:

Sid the Pig

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My grandfather had some sort of super sensitivity to soap, so none was used in my grandparents' house and everything was scrubbed under very hot running water instead.

The only time I have come across non-rinsing was in a book of 'life on the ranch' tales: two cowhands were sharing quarters and one insisted on doing the cooking, but burned and ruined everything. In revenge, the other (who had to do the washing up) deliberately didn't rinse the plates the 'cook' was eating off. The cook got sick and soon changed his ways.

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The only time I have come across non-rinsing was in a book of 'life on the ranch' tales: two cowhands were sharing quarters and one insisted on doing the cooking, but burned and ruined everything. In revenge, the other (who had to do the washing up) deliberately didn't rinse the plates the 'cook' was eating off. The cook got sick and soon changed his ways.

As a teenager I worked in the kitchen of a ranch in Montana. One of the hands, an intimidatingly gruff Vietnam vet, was absolutely adamant that we never, ever wash his coffee mug but only rinse it well in hot water. Within days of starting I accidentally plunged it into the dishwater before I realized what I was doing. I was too afraid to confess what I'd done and secretly thought he'd never know anyway, so I rinsed it well and carried on.

Next morning he sat at the head of the long wooden kitchen table, I handed him his mug of coffee, and watched out of the corner of my eye as he took one sip, screwed up his face in a grimace of disgust, and bellowed "WHO WASHED MY MUG?"

Thirty years later, I'm just as sensitive as he was. It's not so much a matter of intestinal distress for me as it is the fact that most dish detergents are heavily scented and the residue ruins the food. I think people must get used to the taste of their own detergent. I was served oatmeal at the house of a friend who really is quite a good cook, but I could hardly choke it down because it tasted so strongly of Dawn. I myself will use only the unscented "eco" type dishwashing liquids.

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Soap is not biologically inert. Detergents are used in the lab to break down cells, for instance, as the first step in a DNA extraction.

As for the effects in your gut, well, think about "soap suds enemas". They really work!

I googled "eating soap" and found a number of links about people, particularly pregnant women, craving soap, and in particular, craving "Irish Spring". For those of you not in the US this is an incredibly strong smelling, green deodorant soap.

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I am left handed also. Made a mistake in my last post should have said eat a peck of dirt in a lifetime,thats a quarter of a bushel.Always took dirt to mean any substance not intended for consumption that would surely include soap. :rolleyes:

I don't know... that peck of dirt surely didn't include lots of things, such as cyanide, mercury, and ground glass (yeh, the body can handle these things, but they're not exactly great for you), so I don't see why soap would figure in (did they even use soap much, when that saying was first minted?).

I can actually deal better with people using just blazing hot water and no soap at all, then leaving soap suds on.

I'm going to have to find a tactful way to ask some more people here about this... what I really want to know is WHY this done.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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You are showing nerves of steel, Mjx. I would find myself sneaking downstairs and rewashing everything in the middle of the night. Perhaps you could volunteer to do the washing up? Or are you already doing the cooking?

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