Monday, September 20

Should dishes be washed in hot water to be disinfected?

Despite the fact that the presence of the dishwasher is increasingly common in Spanish homes (more than half have a dishwasher in their kitchen), and as much as we would love to put everything in the dishwasher and finish the cleaning, the truth is that there are still many occasions when we cannot escape having to go through the sink.

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Washing dishes is surely not one of many people’s favorite household chores – it’s monotonous, you can’t get away from it unless you stop eating, it’s a laborious process, etc. Therefore, what we are looking for is to find an easy and effective way and, to achieve this, the temperature of the water plays a fundamental role.

Hot or cold water?

In some cases, when we wash by hand, we do it simply by lathering a little and running through cold water. We believe that just because the dirt has disappeared from our dishes they are already 100% clean.

But wash our dishes with soap and cold water is not enough; We only remove visible dirt, neither sanitize nor disinfect dishes from germs and other forms of bacteria. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends washing dishes with warm soapy water. The objective is to eliminate the remains of food on the dishes, a breeding ground for bacteria.

Advantages of hot water:

  • Removes grease and stains more easily: hot water “loosens” the fat molecules so that the detergent can grab them and not loosen them.
  • Kills bacteria and microorganisms: hot water has a sterilizing capacity, which greatly reduces the risk of possible bacteria and food poisoning.
  • Has greater cleaning power: in addition to the fact that hot water does not stop in front of a greasy dish, even for those who are not, it has a cleaning power superior to cold water because it accelerates the process of dissolving food and dirt from the dishes. This also means spending less time scrubbing.
  • Reduces drying time– Hot water dries much faster on dishes than warm or cold water and this reduces the risk of microorganisms spreading due to the presence of moisture.

The limits of cold water:

  • Does not kill germs or bacteriaAlthough it can inactivate many bacteria and germs and prevent them from spreading, it does not kill them. To do so, we would at least have to rinse the dishes with hot water at the end.
  • Does not remove fat: butters fats and oils become thick and viscous at low temperatures.
  • Doesn’t completely remove soap: Washing dishes in cold water can leave a thin cloudy film on the surface. In addition, and because it does not dissolve soaps and detergents as effectively as hot water, a layer of soap can remain. When it dries, the dish will be cloudy.
  • Does not remove viscosity: many thick substances become viscous at low temperatures (fats, jams, honey, etc.) and are difficult to remove.

In addition, and unlike hot water, cold is not a good solvent for many solutes present in detergents. What it does is harden the soap. This does not mean that it is not useful in some cases: leftover dairy products such as ice cream, yogurt and milk are best cleaned with cold water.

In short, cold water does not have a good cleaning capacity compared to hot water, although it can be effective if the correct detergent is used.

Other important aspects besides water

  • The detergent: as or more important than temperature is the soap we use. It contains surfactants, compounds whose molecules have an effect on grease and oil in dirty dishes; These compounds require heat for fast and effective cleaning of grease and stains.
  • SpongeHow we wash the dishes is as important as the way we do it. It is advisable to use a sponge that has some type of scrubbing surface, such as nylon bristles. But, whichever one we choose, we must clean it often with a disinfectant solution and replace it frequently (for something they are considered one of the most germ-free utensils in a house).
  • Soaking: soaking the dishes for a few minutes in hot soapy water gives the solvents time to begin to remove the dirt and makes the job easier.
  • The order: it is important to start washing with the least dirty and greasy items (glassware, glasses, etc.), and then move on to the plates and cutlery. Pots and pans are preferable to last because they tend to be dirtier.
  • Drying: it is preferable to let the dishes air dry, instead of doing it with a cloth or towel, especially if they are not completely clean because this favors the spread of germs.

As recommended by the public health organization Stop Foodborne Illnes, there are two effective ways to sanitize dishes:

  • Put them in hot water, at about 75ºC for at least 30 seconds.
  • Soak them in a disinfectant solution of bleach and water.

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