Join 3,438 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


My roommate/friend has no idea how to wash dishes, but he thinks he does, and I'm worried for my health!
September 26, 2008 1:37 PM   Subscribe

My roommate/friend has no idea how to wash dishes, but he thinks he does, and I'm worried for my health!

Quick background: I'm 20, male, a junior in college, and I'm living in a 5 person house off campus this year.

My friend doesn't know how to wash dishes. Seriously. But, he offers to wash them all the time, and it scares me. This is his idea of cleaning something:

1) Turn on the cold water (seriously, he'll move the faucet all the way to the right)
2) Put *some* soap on a sponge.
3) Swish around the water a bit, lightly rubbing the plate/pan/whatever
4) Pour out excess water, place in drying rack. He does not rinse. He even leaves soap bubbles on the pan!

It boggles my mind how he thinks this is clean. Seriously, how can you leave soap bubbles on something and think you've cleaned it? Because of his bad ability to clean dishes, just about every other time I grab something to eat off of, I have to rewash it.

I even saw him today take a spatula out of the sink, that had been sitting there all day and just wipe the egg off of it with a towel, and then he used it. It's ridiculous.

So, now the real question--how do I tell him that he's washing everything wrong? I've dried dishes as he's washed them before, and I've handed back ones that still had soap or food on them, but he doesn't seem to get it. He's one of those people that gets offended if you criticize him on something like this, something he should know, but clearly doesn't.

The really passive-aggressive answer would be to put up some kind of sign above the sink stating how to clean dishes. Clearly, this isn't the best idea.

I was thinking of, next time I send a message to the entire house (usually through Facebook, our normal means of communication), I could just include something like "I've noticed some dishes aren't getting clean, can everyone make sure to use hot water, lots of soap, scrub hard, and rinse?". We're never really all together at once, so doing it via a message might be easiest, and it won't seem like I'm singling him out. This still seems a bit like I'm avoiding the confrontation, though I really don't know how that would go.

I *wish* I had the problem that he never did his dishes, because then at least I would know they would be clean when I washed them :).

Just to note: I'm not being a clean freak and overreacting to the dishes not being pristine. He literally has left food chunks on the plates, and, like I said, soap bubbles are still on them when they go to the drying rack.

What do I do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (59 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Hey, this might seem, really weird and anal, but I need the dishes cleaner. Would you mind if I did them? Sorry if this seems weird, it's my deal."
posted by piratebowling at 1:47 PM on September 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


That of course, is if you are unwilling to confront, make it about you and he'll probably be much less offended.
posted by piratebowling at 1:48 PM on September 26, 2008


best way to handle this is with humor. believe me, i've had a roommate we literally called "dirty." maybe when you see him washing the dishes next, stay calm and cool, but let him know that you aren't as worried about conserving water and soap, but rather ingesting whatever fungus is going to grow on those dishes. i would not recommend sending out a blanket memo to the whole house, everyone is going to know who that it is supposed to reach (except him).
posted by ms.jones at 1:50 PM on September 26, 2008


I can understand how some people can have different standards for cleanliness but he is leaving soap on the dishes? How can he not taste that fact on his food?
posted by mmascolino at 1:50 PM on September 26, 2008


Mr. Psho doesn't rinse dishes either! WTF? He uses hot water, though. I thought it was a British thing.

We have a dishwasher in the house now, so this is less of an issue.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 1:54 PM on September 26, 2008


For what it's worth, I have heard (secondhand) that not rinsing is a typically British habit.
posted by alexei at 1:55 PM on September 26, 2008


People wash dishes like idiots for a variety of different reasons. A past roommate once cited water waste for why she "washed" dishes off with a brush of the hand. I say confront the guy about it but keep it light and jovial. Depending on how he reacts, take it from there. If he reacts like a crazy person, you're probably going to just have to suck it up and rewash the dishes when you want to use them.
posted by phunniemee at 1:56 PM on September 26, 2008


I'd try talking to him again about it, and if that doesn't work, I'd ask him to help dry the dishes for me while I washed them. That way he'd get to see how you do them, and maybe he'd pick up on what you're talking about. If he still doesn't change his ways, just ask him not to wash the dishes anymore.

I'd also ask your other roommates if they've noticed anything disagreeable with the dishes lately. See if it's just you. If they've noticed, then I'd mention the guy who's responsible specifically, ask them if they agree that something needs to be done, and ask them how they'd go about it. Strength in numbers, man. If everyone else living with you agrees there's a problem and is fed up, and you all let him know, he'll probably have a harder time convincing himself he's fine and it's not something he needs to fix.

You're all living together for the year, so for future situations like this I'd ask the roommates before I'd ask The Green (or maybe both at the same time).
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 1:59 PM on September 26, 2008


I have seen, firsthand, non-rinsing British...

I have also eaten at their homes and suffered no ill effects. There are dishes "washed" via a scrubbing with sand... But anyway. How's your relationship with him otherwise; can't you just come out and ask why he half-asses the wash? "Dude, there's a chunk of food here. Why don't you use hot water, man?"
posted by kmennie at 1:59 PM on September 26, 2008


For what it's worth, I have heard (secondhand) that not rinsing is a typically British habit.

a HA!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 1:59 PM on September 26, 2008


Many people, especially students, wash dishes in the way you describe. Many people do not care if there are a few soap bubbles on their dishes after they wash them. Soap is not poison; a few soap bubbles on a dish will not harm you. You may prefer your dishes well rinsed and washed in hot water, but you probably aren't going to have a lot of luck forcing your roommate to wash your way. My suggestion: mention the issue to your roommate when you find food still stuck to dishes and ask him to make sure he gets the dishes clean. Otherwise, grin and bear it. Get your own dishes if you simply can't live with your roommates standards.

I'm not being a clean freak and overreacting to the dishes not being pristine.

By many people's standards you are being a clean freak.

And, yes, I'm annoyed by un-rinsed dishes too.
posted by ssg at 2:00 PM on September 26, 2008


So, now the real question--how do I tell him that he's washing everything wrong?

I would just tell him face to face. Don't say "You're doing it wrong" directly, but explain your "better" way of washing dishes and give details about each part. For example, explain that soap just bonds to oil and grease, and that the rinsing washes away both the soap and the grease.

Generally if you explain your reasoning and throw in some Science it will look more like you're a dish washing expert with some helpful tips and less like you're a passive-aggressive germaphobe. He might still get offended, but I would risk offending him before I would risk him continuing to be oblivious and giving me food poisoning.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:01 PM on September 26, 2008


Just tell him! You should NOT have to do all the dishes because he sucks at dishwashing. Just say "hey look, this dish is still dirty, you know it'd probably help if you washed with hot water and rinsed all the soap off. If you don't want to do that then that's OK, I have no problem washing my own dishes."

Really, this isn't a big deal, I don't think this is even worth a question on here! Honestly, I wouldn't even try being sensitive about it, I'd just be like, "dude, you're still leaving the dishes dirty and then I have to rewash them, just use hot water and rinse longer, OK?"

So just do it now, and let us know how it went! The longer you wait the more awkward it's gonna be.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 2:03 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm British and I don't rinse dishes, and as far as I know no-one else here in the UK I know does. I heard it was because British and US washing-up liquid was different but maybe it's just a cultural thing. Either way I have never tasted soap on my plates after washing them in hot water & washing-up liquid, then leaving to dry in a rack.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:03 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Hey roommate, can you rinse the dishes in hot water a bit more? The last time I grabbed a cup, it was still soapy and I got sick." Do not leave notes or blanket memos. If you are worried about confrontation, get the most easygoing member of the house to talk to him about it.
posted by hooray at 2:04 PM on September 26, 2008


I used to live with three British guys and only one of them had a rinsing problem. He'd fill up the sink with hot, soapy water, put the dishes in the water and then just take the dishes out and put them on the rack. No rinsing and hardly any scrubbing. I stumbled in the kitchen to find him doing this one day and said, "Aren't you going to rinse?" and he said, "No" and I said, "but there is still soap on those dishes, see? You need to rinse." I think I kind of bullied him into rinsing although to be honest, he still wasn't very good about it.

So maybe just play naive and say, "Dude... you put a dirty dish back on the rack," but say it kind of wide-eyed, like maybe he made a mistake.
posted by sutel at 2:09 PM on September 26, 2008


Kiwi here, and the cold water part is horrible but the rinsing part doesn't bother me (That british ancestry hasn't worn of after 6 generations...) The suds slide off in the dish rack. I always rinse glasses and mugs though... because you're more likely to serve water in them and be aware of the taste.

It is fair to pass things back with chunks on if you're drying. But also give him some credit for actually washing dishes (or at least trying)
posted by slightlybewildered at 2:12 PM on September 26, 2008


Man, I had this problem in university too. In particular, the guy wouldn't rinse. It really annoyed me. I didn't want to eat soap. Soap is not food, and it can give you the runs. I tried talking to him about it. He didn't say a word to me, just turned around and walked upstairs to his room. I wasn't cool with that. He wasn't british either, just a jerk. I would say something to your roommate, but don't expect it to be pleasant.
posted by Jupiter Jones at 2:14 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


If American liquid soap is left to collect on dishes, it WILL cause diarrhea for some people who eat off of them. Ask me how I know :)

You might want to explain this fact, if your roommate comes from a culture where the same kind of soap is used. Alternately, just suck it up and wash your dishes again before you use them.
posted by muddgirl at 2:21 PM on September 26, 2008


Gah, that second-to-last sentence should be "...where a different kind of soap is used"
posted by muddgirl at 2:24 PM on September 26, 2008


Have you ever stopped to consider why we wash dishes? Obviously if you've cooked meat and don't wash it, bacteria will grow. But how likely are you to actually get sick from a dirty dish? How much of a difference does it make if you scrub a lot vs a little, use hot water instead of cold, rinse the soap or don't? People eat off of dirty dishes all the time -- I've certainly done it, when in a hurry -- is it really necessary to wash them so thoroughly every time?

I think most of us would be throwing out wild guesses if we said we had an absolute answer. I submit that the desire for perfectly clean dishes is less about science and more about our cultural fixation with sanitation (see also: showering every day, washing clothes after one use, etc.)

If you believe me, then you have a cultural difference here, not a right vs wrong difference, which calls for a little more sensitivity. In other words, because you're sharing dishes, you ask your roommate if he would do you a favor and clean them to your standards because it bothers you otherwise. Or, you get separate dishes.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:26 PM on September 26, 2008 [8 favorites]


Funny - my British housemate actually complained to me that I was using too much water washing dishes because I was washing them and rinsing them under running water. She taught me how to use a basin in the sink, fill it with hot soapy water, wash the dishes in that and let the soap bubbles disappear as they drain. I actually agree with her now that she's shown me her way of doing things as I don't believe in wasting water and haven't noticed any soapy taste on the dishes at all since switching over. The soap is so diluted in the hot water that by the time the dishes dry there's basically nothing left when the water evaporates.
posted by hazyjane at 2:34 PM on September 26, 2008


No matter what your conception of yourself is, tell him that you ARE a total neat freak and this is wigging you out. Apologize for correcting him on something trivial, and be polite, but just tell the dude that this is making you nuts and ask him to do things differently.

I've totally been asked before to do things according to someone else's cleanliness standards, and as long as they were polite about it, I never had any problem changing my habits.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:34 PM on September 26, 2008


I will fully admit. I only do the dishes up to "normal" people's standards when they are present and looking. Else, I simply get any visible food residue off before putting the dish/utensil on the rack. I use cold water, don't thoroughly scrub every inch or slowly rinse, etc. etc.

I presume that if your roommate is able to take feedback well, and you phrase it correctly, this will be the outcome as well.

That said, I lived recently with someone who used the drying rack merely as a staging area for the dishwasher (which I never got, that's what the SINK is for). After a few incidents where I grabbed a fork/plate that was covered in grease and food residue, I took to setting aside one of each implement, (fork, spoon, cup, big plate, little plate, bowl, etc.) and left them in "my" area of the food cabinet. Because of this, I always had stuff up to my level of cleanliness, never ended up doing anyone elses dishes or building a resentment against someone for performing those duties, or forced someone else to do my dishes. Sure, the housemates initially thought it was slightly odd, but people got used to it and moved on. Might be an easy and effective solution.
posted by Debaser626 at 2:38 PM on September 26, 2008


I have a similar but somewhat different problem with my fiance. Our dishwasher is really good, so we can almost always put a dirty dish directly in the dishwasher and it will be completely clean after one go. Sometimes not, though. Now, me, when I go to get the dishes out and put them up, I will check to make sure they're completely clean first. If they're not, I just leave them in the dishwasher so they get washed again next time we run it.

My fiance doesn't check at all. He's put some skanky dishes in the cabinets. I have tried teasing him about this, snarking at him about it... he takes it good naturedly, and he understands what he's supposed to do, but he still does it. Finally I just told him, "This isn't working. You are never to empty the dishwasher again. Only I will empty the dishwasher." He grinned and said, "Yaaay!"

So, the solution? Tell him you're washing all the dishes, no offense, you're just weird about dishes.
posted by Nattie at 2:44 PM on September 26, 2008


I agree with using humor and some good natured ribbing.

"Hey, your mama never taught you how to wash dishes? Or, did she just do them for you?"

"What if Obama walked in our door right now and wanted to use the toilet and have a slice of apple pie? We couldn't give Obama a slice of apple pie on these crusty plates! Standards, boy! Standards!"
posted by Fairchild at 2:44 PM on September 26, 2008 [7 favorites]


Not rinsing is commonplace in Britain, even amongst people who are otherwise fastidious. I definitely could taste the soap if someone washed a glass, didn't rinse it, and then I drank, say, water out of it later.

I have never been persuaded that hand-washed dishes are that sanitary to start with, though.
posted by grouse at 2:50 PM on September 26, 2008


I'd forget about the rinsing on concentrate on the actual food chunks. Minor amounts of soap will not attract, say, slugs; food chunks might.

(Some friends of mine back in college had the slug problem from unwashed dishes. Ew. Your vermin may vary, of course.)
posted by nat at 2:59 PM on September 26, 2008


What do I do?

get over it.

uni is where you learn to compromise with people. not everyone will want to do things your way. do the best you can and don't make yourself look obsessive. you'll be happier in the long run.
posted by ascullion at 3:04 PM on September 26, 2008 [2 favorites]



Have you ever stopped to consider why we wash dishes? Obviously if you've cooked meat and don't wash it, bacteria will grow. But how likely are you to actually get sick from a dirty dish? How much of a difference does it make if you scrub a lot vs a little, use hot water instead of cold, rinse the soap or don't? People eat off of dirty dishes all the time -- I've certainly done it, when in a hurry -- is it really necessary to wash them so thoroughly every time?


Hot water, at least, is key to killing bacteria and viruses and all sorts of things. Ideally the water should be hot enough that you need to use gloves. I don't know how likely it is to get sick, but why risk it? Getting food poisoning or salmonella or something one, unlikely time, is more than enough.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:04 PM on September 26, 2008


"Dude... dude! What the fuck? You gotta rinse the soap off, your going to give us the shits."

You are young and in college, you aren't supposed to be tactful yet.
posted by Loto at 3:11 PM on September 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wow... youre = you're.
posted by Loto at 3:11 PM on September 26, 2008


As a (US-resident) non-rinsing Brit my perspective is that the dishwashing liquid reduces the surface tension of the water sufficiently that dishes drain clean. This is different than washing in soap, where a rinse is actually needed.

I'm quite picky about clean plates and cutlery, and not infrequently re-wash after other people have already had a go, but most of the time I think rinsing is unnecessary. Before washing dishes they should have had food scraped off then a brief rinse to remove food particles, and before putting the dishes to dry, they must have been washed properly in hot HOT water. I do like to rinse glasses, though, then dry with a clean cloth for a good shine.

I hadn't realized it was a Brit habit until this post, but I've had kids' friends complain when they've noticed!
posted by anadem at 3:16 PM on September 26, 2008


I was thinking of, next time I send a message to the entire house (usually through Facebook, our normal means of communication), I could just include something like "I've noticed some dishes aren't getting clean, can everyone make sure to use hot water, lots of soap, scrub hard, and rinse?". We're never really all together at once, so doing it via a message might be easiest, and it won't seem like I'm singling him out. This still seems a bit like I'm avoiding the confrontation, though I really don't know how that would go.

not that your complaint isn't perfectly legitimate, but: please go ahead and do this so one of them can screenshot it and submit it to passiveaggressivenotes.com!

loto's response is, i think, the best given the context of your ages and relationship. you don't need to make a big deal about it, just tell him it's gross and to start washing the dishes better.
posted by lia at 3:30 PM on September 26, 2008


My god, I had no idea there was a British angle to washing dishes. We had some English friends rent a house in the US for a few months this summer and, when we'd visit to have dinner or spend the night, I was always looking for a godd**n sponge - "where the F is the sponge? How the hell do these dishes get cleaned?!"
posted by asparagus_berlin at 3:43 PM on September 26, 2008


So -- two questions:

1. Why the cultural difference? I always thought it was because of deprivation during the War, don't waste water, etc.

2. Is the OP's roommate British or descended from Brits?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 3:52 PM on September 26, 2008


Let's just say my dad mentioning that the possibility of "soap shits" could exist was enough to make me Very Paranoid about rinsing.

In all honesty, you're either going to have to piss Mr. Sensitive off, do them all yourself and make him NOT do it (how?), or tell him that you're having "incidents" from his dish-doings. That sounds like a bullet you are going to have to bite either way. Frankly, I vote to tell him to his face now and piss him off now, rather than leave him to piss off everyone he lives with/future spouses for eternity. Someone is gonna have to do it, and since his mommy didn't, it falls to you. Hey, it's your bum, after all.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:53 PM on September 26, 2008


It weirded me out when I saw Americans washing dishes under running water. "How could that get them clean," I thought.

I do "rinse" the soap off, btw, I just do it in the existing sinkful of water.

Actually, I don't do any of these things now. I have a dishwasher. And thank fuck for that.
posted by bonaldi at 4:37 PM on September 26, 2008


Data point: in Australia I (and most people I've seen) wish wash dishes in a sink full of water with detergent and leave them to dry without rinsing. I've never heard of anyone getting sick. When Americans say 'soap', is that just your word for detergent? Or are you actually using soap?
posted by twirlypen at 5:05 PM on September 26, 2008


Americans typically use dishwashing liquid/detergent. We just call it "soap." We don't use the bar stuff.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 6:27 PM on September 26, 2008


When we wash dishes, I hasten to add.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 6:28 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's your problem, rewash the dishes before you use them. When I was in college, we had seriously questionable cleanliness all over the house, and no one got sick. Making a big deal out of this most likely will make you look like a dick in your roomate's eyes.

If you're freaked out it, have your own dishes. Keep them in your room. You are not a married couple, you don't need to share dishes. Problem solved.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 6:47 PM on September 26, 2008


Woah woah woah!

I was thinking of, next time I send a message to the entire house (usually through Facebook, our normal means of communication)

Um, don't do that. Unless you have more roommates than can comfortably fit in your living room room, internet messages are rude.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 6:50 PM on September 26, 2008


Seconding Twirlypen - I'm from Australia and thats how I've seen most dishes done - washing them under running water here would probably get some harsh comments since Sydney and Brisbane are both going through extreme water shortages.

My view on all this is that we descended from a race of people who caught animals and ate raw meet off the ground. Thats not to say that the advances we've made should all be thrown aside, but just thinking of that helps me put these things in perspective.
posted by Admira at 7:56 PM on September 26, 2008


Finally I just told him, "This isn't working. You are never to empty the dishwasher again. Only I will empty the dishwasher." He grinned and said, "Yaaay!"

A fine application of creative incompetence.
posted by flabdablet at 8:02 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would just wash the dishes before I ate off them. I hate the soapy taste of unrinsed dishes, and it's odd that he uses cold water to boot, but ultimately you're each going to be responsible for your own dish-cleaning standards.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:12 PM on September 26, 2008


Someone upthread mentioned they got their own small set of distinct looking dishes in their own area and used those most of the time. I had roommates earlier in life whose dishwashing habits weren't up to my standards personally (similar rinsing issue, but more just a "dirty dish turnover" rate that was slow enough it made me queasy), and that's pretty much how I handled it. We can argue all day about whether you're uptight or he's gross. That's not really the point though. The point is living harmoniously with different ideas of how to go about things. And sometimes you weigh the trouble of confrontation with the trouble of going solo with your efforts. I rather liked my system personally, and nobody's feelings got hurt. I wasn't doing more work that I wanted to or should have to either--just took care of my own messy dishes.
posted by ifjuly at 9:54 PM on September 26, 2008


I wouldn't worry about the suds at all, they'll mostly slide off as it dries, and a little bit of soap isn't going to hurt you. Just focus on the hot water and getting the food off.

Anyway, this person is your friend right? You don't need to talk to him like you're in a courtroom. "Man, you can't wash dishes for shit, look at this one - it still has ketchup all over it. You want me to do these?"

When someone in the office was leaving his coffee cups and teaspoons in the sink, I asked him if his mum was going to be in later to clean them up, or if he expected me to do it. He laughed, but he also tidied everything away into the dishwasher - and hasn't done it since.

So many pussies.
posted by The Monkey at 10:31 PM on September 26, 2008


PhoBWanKenobi:
Hot water, at least, is key to killing bacteria and viruses and all sorts of things. Ideally the water should be hot enough that you need to use gloves. I don't know how likely it is to get sick, but why risk it? Getting food poisoning or salmonella or something one, unlikely time, is more than enough

If you want to kill all the critters by heat, the water would indeed have to be very hot! So hot, that even gloves wouldn't help you for long. Most of the cleaning gets done by the detergent and the scrubbing. (Non-perfect explanation: the fatty membranes of the bacteria get dissolved by the soap and any proteines and dna denaturates)

The water is hot, because this increases the solubility of things, the detergent works better. And yeah, critters -maybe even most- can't stand the heat. But the real power lies in scrubbing and detergent. (Example: soap and hottish water gives you sanitary hands, you do not have to scald them regularly.)

Here nobody rinses either. (Well, glasses for fine wines get rinsed and toweled). Wasn't there a rush of detergent commercials in the '80s that advertised that "no white (calcium carbonate) spots would be left" on your dishes when not rinsing?
posted by mmkhd at 12:42 AM on September 27, 2008


What..what? We don't rinse dishes?! I've been doing it all wrong!!
posted by cardamine at 12:56 AM on September 27, 2008


I hate the soapy taste of unrinsed dishes
Don't lick the dishes then, it's rude anyway!
posted by slightlybewildered at 2:43 AM on September 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Talk to him and say look, this is just not clean and sanitary. Regale him of a (possibly fictional) story about the time you got food poisoning and had explosive diarrhea in your parents living room. Hint strongly that you've gotten mild food poisoning here once or twice already, and that the dishes certainly can't be helping. Offer to help him do the dishes. Offer to just do them yourself.

If none of that works, I'd just go to Costco and get a load of disposable plates, cups and cutlery, which I'd keep in my room and use instead of house plates.
posted by barc0001 at 2:56 AM on September 27, 2008


It's a British thing. I lived there for 5 years and actually wasn't ill a single time. Nor did I ever taste soap in my food either.

Fwiw, I still rinse when washing up because of 20 years of Finnish conditioning, but the not rinsing doesn't bother me. I would bring up the bad washing up though. Specks of food = not good.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:03 AM on September 27, 2008


Yeah, unless you wash in boiling water, good luck on sterilizing the dishes that way. Even the hottest you can stand with gloves is a good 70 degrees off. Warm water does two things: it melts fats, making it easier for the detergent to bond to them and wash them away, and it dissolves dried food particles more quickly. Unless there is noticeable grease or dried chunks on the dishes, It makes no difference at all.

In most cases, you probably add more bacteria from the sponge than you remove with the scrubbing. But those kinds of things don't love smooth dry surfaces so much, so it's not a big deal, just set the dishes on a rack and let them dry.

I rinse, because I was taught to rinse, and rinsing seems normal to me. But I doubt it makes a lot of difference either.

As much as it is comforting to believe otherwise, 98% of what washing accomplishes is removing the taste of the previous food from the dish. And the remaining 2%, the nasty things that could grow in that food.
posted by Nothing at 6:24 AM on September 27, 2008


I'm British and I do rinse dishes, though its not the way it was ever done growing up.

I used to work as a field caterer (outside events)and in order to pass an environmental health inspection (food safety) when you are catering you have to rinse the dishes.

However we didn't have ready access to large quantities of hot water so we washed in cold water, and there was never a problem with this. I'm not so convinced rinsing, in this case at least, is about removing soap, so much as it is about removing traces of dirty water.
posted by tallus at 11:13 AM on September 27, 2008


The soap is diluted with the water and then turned into tiny bubbles through vigorous washing. The bubbles slide off when the dishes are on the rack, leaving no residue, so the only reason to rinse is if you need a dish in a hurry and can't wait for the bubbles to fall off.

If you aren't washing the dishes properly in the first place, that's different. I imagine if a smear of washing up liquid in its original state was left on a dish then it would make you sick.

That's my - raised in Britain - perspective, anyway.

Oh, and hot water is mandatory.
posted by the latin mouse at 1:18 PM on September 27, 2008


Oh, and lying to a friend or roommate? Not cool.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 4:17 PM on September 27, 2008


In the US, we have 8 or 9 thousand different dish soaps and new ones advertised every frreakin' day. I can tell you from icky experience that not all of these "slide off." People do get sick from unclean dishes, and if you want to chat with your friendly neighborhood exterminator, they can tell you that unclean, even subtle, not obvious unless you look close, unclean leads to extra bugs bugging around.

There's nothing wrong with wanting clean dishes.

Just chat with the roomie. Try to keep it light. If this does not work, reclean your own dishes before using. Some people don't get it. They won't. You're not married and you probably have other little battles in the household so just let it go.

I've had roommates who left dishes so dirty you could write your name in the grease. These people would argue that they never got sick. Once upon a time, an OBGY told me "you'd be surprised how many women come in here for birth control, saying everything is fine, nothing itches or burns, and they have violent yeast infections." I'm just sayin', one person's never sick is another person's never noticed...
posted by Lesser Shrew at 4:58 PM on September 28, 2008


Not to be gross but....Soap is a natural antibiotic. Ingesting it can kill the good bacteria in your intestines, leading to diarrhea.

Maybe do a little research on the subject and bring it up to your roommate as 'the new thing you just learned'. You could even call a dr. for confirmation and then be like "Dude, my dr. told me that rinsing dishes in hot water will keep us less sick" That way it's not YOU criticizing him.

But you have to tell him for his own good.
posted by debbie_ann at 5:45 PM on October 21, 2008


« Older Is there any native speaker of...   |  Where can I watch the presiden... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.