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Hiroyuki

Dishes--No rinsing in water after washing?

78 posts in this topic

I'd like to make my intention clear. I just wanted to know whether Englishmen rinse dishes in water after washing them with detergent. I have never asked whether Englishmen are dirty, unclean, or unsanitary.

Let me add one more thing although it is completely off-topic: I love the culture of England. What admires me most is the old houses there. Do you know that the houses in Japan are scrapped in an average of 26 years?

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I moved to the US twenty years ago, and that was indeed how I was taught to wash dishes in England. One of the first things my uncle taught me upon moving in with him in the US was how to wash dishes properly.

I imagine this has changed somewhat in the intervening years, though; my sister has both a mixer faucet (tap) and a dishwasher.

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You think the English have strange pot washing habits, you don't even want to know how the Welsh wash their pot (we only have the one, keeps our national dish company)...

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You are speaking in riddles. What is it? :blink:

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If you're pre-rinsing the dishes that you're putting into your dishwasher, you're either wasting your time (and water) or you don't have a good dishwasher -- or you have some environmentalist dishwasher that doesn't use enough water (therefore requiring pre-rinsing, which wastes more water overall I'm sure). Any good dishwasher manufactured in the past 5-10 years is going to say right in the instruction manual "you don't need to pre-rinse." And that's true. You hardly even need to scrape the plates, no less pre-rinse them, before you put them in my dishwasher. It has a disposal/grinder unit built in, so you can literally put entire plates of food in -- pasta, vegetables, anything but bones -- and it will rinse the food off in the first cycle, pulverize it in the disposal/grinder, and send the goo out the drain. Not that I do it that way, but I've tested it and it works. And I don't have a super-high-end unit. It's the cheapest KitchenAid.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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The first fight my german bf (now husband) and I ever had was about this very issue. I was horrified the first time I saw him do it but I have to say I have never experienced food poisoning with him or his family. Still, when I wash the dishes I really feel the need to rinse.

By the way, there is a great MFK Fisher essay about this: How to Lure a Wolf. MFK is of the rinse-with-hot-water-no-soap school. The inverse-European method, so zu sagen.

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Just a thought -- is anyone else driven completely nuts by the American obsession with anti-bacterial soaps? Just what I need to be ingesting on a daily basis, something that will kill my stomach bacteria.

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If ... or you don't have a good dishwasher

Strange as it may sound, only 11.6% of the households in Japan have a dishwasher as of March 2003, according to one source, partly because of the limited kitchen space in most Japanese houses and partly because of the different shapes and sizes of bowls, dishes, and plates used in normal Japanese houses. With the advent of more sophisticated and less bulky dishwaters in recent years, however, dishwashers have become more popular these days.

Strange as it may sound again, some Japanese wives feel somewhat guilty or shameful about using a dishwater. I wonder if anyone can understand their feeling.

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Just a thought -- is anyone else driven completely nuts by the American obsession with anti-bacterial soaps? Just what I need to be ingesting on a daily basis, something that will kill my stomach bacteria.

I'm not 100% sure but I think that when it comes to obsession with sanitation, Japanese are second to none. There are all sorts of anti-bacterial products sold here in Japan. I think that most of them are quite silly; they only weaken the body's immune system.

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If you're pre-rinsing the dishes that you're putting into your dishwasher, you're either wasting your time (and water) or you don't have a good dishwasher -- or you have some environmentalist dishwasher that doesn't use enough water (therefore requiring pre-rinsing, which wastes more water overall I'm sure). Any good dishwasher manufactured in the past 5-10 years is going to say right in the instruction manual "you don't need to pre-rinse." And that's true. You hardly even need to scrape the plates, no less pre-rinse them, before you put them in my dishwasher. It has a disposal/grinder unit built in, so you can literally put entire plates of food in -- pasta, vegetables, anything but bones -- and it will rinse the food off in the first cycle, pulverize it in the disposal/grinder, and send the goo out the drain. Not that I do it that way, but I've tested it and it works. And I don't have a super-high-end unit. It's the cheapest KitchenAid.

European dishwashers tend to be of the "environmentalist" type that FG describes.

All I can guess is that plumbing over here is older and often cannot support a disposer/grinder, whether in the sink or in the dishwasher. So dishwashers come with a filter, which traps food particles as the water recirculates, and drains have a filter which you have to empty. It is therefore sensible to scrape plates or at least lightly pre-rinse; otherwise either the filter fills up or bits of food circulate during the wash and get stuck to other dishes during the drying cycle. At some point, in any event, you have to manually remove and clean the filter, which is an unpleasant chore.

Our plumbing supports a disposer, so we have one, and the dishwasher empties right into it; this also means that we can rinse straight into the disposer without cleaning a disk filter. But if you want a dishwasher over here, it has to be a filter model, and hence it's easier to rinse the plates. In America we had a KitchenAid; here it's a Miele.

Rinsing doesn't take a lot of water -- just a splash to get rid of the big stuff; in fact most of the time we just scrape with a rubber spatula and the plates go into the machine. And the Miele is far quieter than the old KitchenAid. Nonetheless a proper dishwasher setup, like a washing machine that takes less than an hour, is one of those things I miss from the U. S. of A.


Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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>Nonetheless a proper dishwasher setup, like a washing machine that takes less than an hour, is one of those things I miss from the U. S. of A.

Amen. And a dryer that dries. Our dryer here takes TWO hours and clothes come out dry and quite lukewarm. I long for the 30 minute dry and piping hot clothes. I read a Wired article about how more eco things are here in the good ol' EU in this area and how clothes (and probably dishes) fare better under the kinder gentler model at work. But dammit...

I always do a hot-water rinse post scrub but i think I am on the minority side of things in Ireland. I fill the sink twice and follow the following running order.

1. Glassware

2. Cups

3. saucers

4. plates

5. empty and refill the sink with hot sudsy water.

6. Cutlery

7. Pots and pans.

My French friends have the following method. Empty sink, nothing in it, very sudsy scrubber, scrub everything and load them into the sink. THEN fill sink with boiling water. Drain and rinse everything off under a running hot water tap.

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I still feel this thread fascinating, but some members seem to take some of the posts here as an insult to the culture of England or to Englishmen in general. I would not mind if this thread were moved to another section of the forum that the moderators consider appropriate, for example, General Food Topics. But I would mind if this thread were shut down altogether.


Edited by Hiroyuki (log)

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I moved this to the General Foods so all could join in.

Let me reiterate the point made earlier. Some of these posts are tip-toeing along the fence of national stereo-types (as well as other realms of dumbness). Let's stay away from any more of these, shall we? Otherwise the eGullet Goon Squad are going to come to your house in the middle of the night, and steal your fridge. Maybe make a ham sandwich and leave a mess. Possibly start some chicken stock and then abandon it half-way through. I'm not kidding. These guys mean business.

This has been a public service message.


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an insult to the culture of England or to Englishmen in general. 

The "No Rinsing" method is not genuine English.

A good while ago, the habit was quite widespread here in Switzerland. I had several time a lot of arguing about that, because I couldn't stand the idea eating from a plate with a soap film left.

These days, with the "Organic" and "Natural" paradigm, the habit is definitely gone. I think it had to do with after 50ies hygienic fixation.


Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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This is all true I'm afraid.

It may have quite a lot to do with the scarcity of mixer taps in the UK, you have boiling hot or cold. Quite tricky to rinse effectively.

The important fact that mixer taps are very recent in the UK seems to have been overlooked, but it explains much of the non-rinsing. Most of the installed plumbing in the UK has a hot tap and a cold tap, and the only way to mix an intermediate temperature is in a closed sink or basin. The hot water is these days kept very hot to avoid Legionnaires Disease, and in winter the cold is very cold; neither is tolerable for running-water rinsing.

Mixer taps like those known elsewhere in the civilized world have only been permitted in the last few years. Many Brits still believe that they are "dodgy", and some believe that they are actually still illegal and that luxury hotels are evading the law.

This same inability to have mixed hot and cold water accounts for the British having mostly baths (separate hot and cold taps mixed in the tub) rather than showers, and for the fact that bidets are nearly unknown in the UK.

My wife and I refurbished an extremely posh Victorian mansion flat in central London over the last five years, including replacing all the basic systems such as plumbing. Everything was top-quality, since the flat probably wouldn't be refurbished again in our lifetimes.

Our plumbers, stylish and expensive though they were, didn't believe in mixer taps; they explained that up until very recently mixer taps were quite properly forbidden lest some impurity in the hot water sneak back to corrupt the mains water supply. Now such taps were recently legal, but still not a good idea and they preferred not to fit them--no one really needed them, anyway. We had to really argue to get mixer taps in the kitchen and bathrooms.

Historically, the mains water supplies in the UK have had very weak pressure compared to the US (old and weak pipes), so the fear that some pressurized hot water system might force contaminated water into the mains was not entirely fantasy (mains water pressure can become negative when the fire brigade opens a nearby hydrant). The new regulations, of course, require check valves to prevent any backflow, but the whole idea of mixer valves is new-fangled.

Most British houses are still equipped with a water tank on the loft, which is slowly filled by the weak mains pressure. All water for the house passes through this (normally open) tank, with plenty of opportunity for insects and animals to pollute the water. Since a typical British shower is fed from the tank which is only a foot or so over the head of the bather, the pressure is very low. If you want to fill a bathtub, it's important to start with the cold water, and then fill up with hot water. If you do it the other way around, you'll empty the hot water tank, which then fills up from the water tank on the loft. When you're done with the hot water, there's no more cold water left in the tank.

Further background, from "Old-Fashioned Faucets: Unique British Standard

By JAMES R. HAGERTY, The Wall Street Journal Online, Oct. 31, 2002:

"During a wartime visit to Moscow in 1942, Winston S. Churchill discovered a marvel of modern technology: hot and cold water flowing from the same faucet.

"The plumbing in the villa where he stayed as a guest of Stalin was unlike the primitive British standard of separate taps for hot and cold. Rather than having to fill up the sink to achieve the right blend, the British leader could wash his hands under gushing water "mingled to exactly the temperature one desired," as he put it in his memoirs. From then on, he resolved to use this method whenever possible.

"His countrymen have been slow to take up the single-spigot cause. Most bathroom sinks in Britain still have separate hot and cold taps today, 60 years after Mr. Churchill's conversion and decades after nearly all dual taps were scrapped in the U.S. and most vanished from continental Europe. For reasons of thrift, regulations and a stubborn attachment to tradition, the British have resisted the tide of plumbing history. Even when they renovate old homes, many choose two-tap systems, and builders often install them in new, low-end housing. Separate taps account for an estimated 40% of all bathroom-faucet sales in the U.K."

Old-Fashioned Faucets: Unique British Standard (Wall Street Journal)

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My own ex-FIL, a traditional Mainer, would do the two-sink wash. He was proud of being what he considered to be the fastest dishwasher in the state, a title I guess he earned while washing dishes at a frat house while he was in college. Of course, the glasses never got scrubbed out, so they all had an opaque, waxy coating on the inside, ick! His own sister would clean all the glasses when she came to visit.

One year I was having friends to visit in the summer place. I took down all the dishes from the open shelves in the pantry and scrubbed them clean before replacing them. My MIL came in, looked, and was dumbfounded. She'd never seen the glasses gleam before...

So it's definitely not just the British.

Yup. I grew up in Missouri in the 1950s & we always did that 2-sink wash (which always seemed a bit unsanitary to me even at a young age - go figure). It was all about "thrift" & saving water.

If you're pre-rinsing the dishes that you're putting into your dishwasher, you're either wasting your time (and water) or you don't have a good dishwasher -- or you have some environmentalist dishwasher that doesn't use enough water (therefore requiring pre-rinsing, which wastes more water overall I'm sure). Any good dishwasher manufactured in the past 5-10 years is going to say right in the instruction manual "you don't need to pre-rinse." And that's true. You hardly even need to scrape the plates, no less pre-rinse them, before you put them in my dishwasher. It has a disposal/grinder unit built in, so you can literally put entire plates of food in -- pasta, vegetables, anything but bones -- and it will rinse the food off in the first cycle, pulverize it in the disposal/grinder, and send the goo out the drain. Not that I do it that way, but I've tested it and it works. And I don't have a super-high-end unit. It's the cheapest KitchenAid.

OTOH, if you have a 20-year-old dishwasher like mine, the pre-rinse is ESSENTIAL to getting stuff clean. I learned this through trial & inspection, believe me.

I'm guessing at the age of the dishwasher, it was here when we bought this house 14 years ago. Even then it required the pre-rinse. It may be 30 years old for all I know. I'd never had one in any of my previous living quarters so I was looking forward to "no more diswashing!" Didn't completely work out.

I suppose I need a new machine, but I don't see that happening until this one literally breaks down in some fashion.

In the meantime, I try to pre-rinse as quickly as possible, using as little water as possible, but it has to be done.


Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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OTOH, if you have a 20-year-old dishwasher like mine, the pre-rinse is ESSENTIAL to getting stuff clean. I learned this through trial & inspection, believe me.

I'm guessing at the age of the dishwasher, it was here when we bought this house 14 years ago. Even then it required the pre-rinse. It may be 30 years old for all I know. I'd never had one in any of my previous living quarters so I was looking forward to "no more diswashing!" Didn't completely work out.

I suppose I need a new machine, but I don't see that happening until this one literally breaks down in some fashion.

In the meantime, I try to pre-rinse as quickly as possible, using as little water as possible, but it has to be done.

I have to admit I am a bit of a fanatic about clean dishes.

I have gone through several dishwashers during the fifteen years I have lived in this house.

I was never really satisfied with the way the dishes were washed and they all too far too long.

When I decided to remodel so I could get my kitchen certified (in case I wanted to do some contract work and because I do a lot of canning) I got a Hobart. No normal microbe can live through that.

The greatest advantage is that the cycle takes 90 seconds. 1 1/2 minutes and the cycle is done.

I have a large plate rack above so I can unload it and put in a second load, pots, pans and etc.

Two years ago I went to the instant water heaters and got rid of the 2 tank type heaters that were supposed to be guaranteed for 10 years but one had to be replaced after 6 years. It saves on gas and the hot water never runs out. I have one just for the kitchen/laundry and the other one is for the bathrooms. My gas bill went down 25%. (Prices very high in California)

I had a guest staying with me for a couple of weeks last year and she was one of these people who use a glass, rinse it out with plain water, wipe with a paper towel and return to the cupboard.

She was suprised when I insisted that she put her glass in the dishwasher after use and it would be washed in the next cycle. Her reasoning was "it didn't have anything in it except water."

Some people just do not have a clue..............


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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My brother, sister and I had the permanent job when we were growing up- of doing the dishes. One would wash (clean sink, hot water and soap), one would rinse (running hot water), and one would dry and put away. Glasses first, then plates/bowls, then silverware, last was cooking utensils, containers and pots. We filled the sink a second time after the silverware. We would then clean the counters and sweep the floor. I remember getting our first dishwasher (it was the kind that you screwed the hose to the faucet). We were so happy (though strict rinsing was enforced). As preteens and teens we had scheduled washing days. Weekend nights there was heavy bargaining and trading (sometimes involving the family car and who was going to use it).

My mother never did dinner dishes. My father never did dishes period. We were compensated with an allowance.

My peeve is people who wash dishes with old sponges and rags- yuck! I am a brush person.

In Belgium and France is the first place that I experienced the "no rinse"- just dry the soapy plate. I was hocked- I was more bothered that my Belgian friend told me that his parents would think I was weird if I took a bath (no showers) more often then every five days!

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hah! I was shocked, not hocked :biggrin:

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I have lived and worked in England at various times in my life, and without exception, have never seen a hand-washed dish rinsed with clean running water, even when mixer taps were used. This has held true in both private homes, and a very posh country hotel. The city restaurants where I worked had dishwashers.


“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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I have most definitely seen the wash don't rinse behavior. It's called wash and wipe. The dishes are swabbed off with soapy water and then wiped with a "clean" (albeit soon to be soap-laden) dish cloth. :blink: Oooook. :shock:

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When I'm cooking I sometimes just rinse something and wipe it off to use it again for something else. :shock:

However this method bit me yesterday from behind when I rinsed a measuring cup that had contained oil with hot water and wiped it out, and then filled it with cold milk for the cake. The measuring cup (which was supposed to be one of those special temp proof scientific measuring cup) cracked and milk flowed all over the place. :angry:

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if you have a 20-year-old dishwasher like mine,

Gee...I'd love a 20-year-old dishwasher... :wink:

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Mixer taps like those known elsewhere in the civilized world have only been permitted in the last few years.  Many Brits still believe that they are "dodgy", and some believe that they are actually still illegal and that luxury hotels are evading the law.

Fascinating. We took over a house in 1976 that had a mixer tap in the kitchen. It was an excellent sink and so we kept it and rebuilt the kitchen around it. Without extensive research, we would be surprised to learn that it was unique.


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

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My wife and I refurbished an extremely posh Victorian mansion flat in central London over the last five years,

I just can't help responding. Sounds so splended. My family live in a condo, to be more precise, a resort condo. It's too small for a family of four. We want to move to a larger house within two years, but I just can't bring myself to spend my money on something that will turn to industrial waste in 20 to 30 years. I have explained this and other housing proublems in Japan to my wife so many times before, together with the housing situation in England--how wonderful the old houses there are, but she just can't understand; she still believes that a house IS an asset, like most Japanese. Sorry, this is really completely off-topic, but something I wanted to tell you about.

As for the main issue, my understanding is that the low water pressure is the main cause of the "wash but not rinse" practice in England.

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