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Leaving Dishes In Dishwasher Overnight (Should you?)

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Last updated on August 14th, 2022 at 01:28 pm

Dishwashing can be tasking, especially when you’re really tired. So we tend to look for easier ways to go about it. Using a dishwasher is one of those ways; nonetheless, it still requires manual control to remove the dishes from it.

You can’t do that when tired, so you may wonder whether you can leave the dishes in the dishwasher overnight.

Dishes should not be left in the dishwasher overnight because bacteria breed and grow on dishes overnight, especially when they are left open where microorganisms can easily fit on. However, if you don’t have a dishwasher with a very high temperature and you don’t like doing your dishes with warm water, it’s best to always wash your dishes before going to bed rather than leaving them overnight.

Can I Leave Dirty Dishes In The Dishwasher?

Dishes should not be left in the dishwasher when they are dirty. They are to be washed, rinsed, and cleaned carefully with a kitchen cloth and kept on the plate rack.

No one wants to leave a dirty dishwasher and risk having their whole kitchen smelling and what’s worse is the smell of decomposed food.

However, leaving dirty dishes in the dishwasher leaves you with a higher chance of being affected by bacterial diseases. Sadly, this can make the spread of disease or sickness in the home quick and easy, especially if the house you are staying in has many people.

When you extend the duration of the unwashed dishes piled up in your dishwasher, microbes will continue to multiply and spread all over the kitchen.

So when you touch the surfaces that have been exposed to you automatically helps in spreading microbial infections and diseases to the body.

How Long Can Dirty Dishes Sit In The Dishwasher?

It is best to always wash your dishes at least within 24 hours of leaving them in the sink. If left for longer, bacteria that have grown on them can survive for up to 4 days and eventually spread to other kitchen parts.

Leaving dishes in the dishwasher can breed bacteria, and it’s not a healthy thing to do. If you’re so busy that doing the dishes is a huge task, you can clean the food particles in them and load them carefully into the dishwasher.

Dirty dishes are capable of causing food poisoning, digestive issues, and cross-contamination. Washing dirty dishes is an important house chore that should not be ignored.

Leaving dirty dishes in the dishwasher not only causes the buildup of bacteria but can also make you fall sick.

Also, dirty dishes can store bacteria and microbes, thereby making the dishwasher an extreme habitat.

Dishwashers constantly have variable conditions — wet, dry, heat, cold, high acidity, and low acidity, making them a perfect habitat for microorganisms. They also have residue of dinner crumbs and detergents in them.

Furthermore, the most commonly found bacterias on dirty dishes are pseudomonas, escherichia, and acineto bacteria. They are best described or known as opportunistic pathogens because they are not harmful.

Nevertheless, people who have weak immune and digestive systems can be infected by these pathogens.

Fungus such as candida, cryptococcosis, and rhodotorula, which are bred due to the dirty dishes that sit for long in the dishwasher, build up fungi and molds as they grow rapidly on dirty dishes.

Running your dishes in a rinse circle with warm or clean water protects you better against germs and gives you time to relax and do your dishes better when less busy.

How Long Does It Take For Bacteria To Grow on Dirty Dishes?

Bacterias in food produce double their number every 20 minutes, especially in food, especially when exposed for more than two hours. They can multiply in trillions in 24 hours.

These bacteria thrive in temperatures that are within the range of 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature range is known as the danger zone.

Some of these bacteria are important and useful for decomposing food and other metabolic processes, but you should not take them into the body in inappropriate quantities.

Some conditions support the spread of bacteria. They are warm temperatures, moisture, and nutritional content of food. You can follow some easy steps in reducing the spread of bacteria in the home due to contaminated dishes.

These steps include the following:

1. The first and basic thing you should do is wash your dishes immediately after use. Dishwashing should become a regular habit and important to you too.

2. Also, you should at least learn to clean or wash your dishwasher once every week. It greatly goes a long way in reducing the effect of microorganisms or bacteria that cause food poisoning and other harmful health hazards when stuck on dirty dishes or the rest of the kitchen surfaces.

3. There may be days when you fall out, and you will not be able to keep washing plates daily. However, when you eventually do, make sure to use a very good detergent and dish wash liquids and soaps that will help to kill these bacteria and inhibit their activities.

4. Treat every appearance of bacterial infections and food poisoning as urgent. This means that you should always clean all surfaces in the kitchen.

This doesn’t suggest in any way that you should allow contamination to take place before you put in preventive measures to reduce the potential health hazards from these bacteria. Stay healthy, wash your dishes.

Can Dirty Dishes Make You Sick?

Dirty dishes left in the sick for a long time can cause gastrointestinal problems, fever, cholera, and even malaria if there is a dense gathering of bacteria.

Salmonella, listeria, and some E. Coli bacteria species are the common bacteria found on dirty dishes. Dirty dishes also attract bugs, flies, mosquitoes, and other tiny organisms that decompose and breed in food and wet surfaces.

Leaving dishes in the sink is an easy way of creating a bacteria group and spreading germs in the home. Germs accumulate on dirty dishes and are taken into the body when these dishes are used in eating or drinking.

Germs can enter the body when these dirty dishes are used after days of staying in the dishwasher. Bacteria can also survive on the surfaces of dishes for over 4 days.

Luckily, bacteria can be stopped from getting into the body system and causing illness. To be able to control the harmful effect of bacteria and also maintain personal hygiene, here is what you should do:

1. Wash your dishes regularly in hot water. If you are using your hands to wash the dishes, what’s best is to use rubber gloves in washing them.

2. Always use quality detergents or dish soaps and sponges to scrub off stubborn food particles that stick on dishes.

3. Use only clean dishcloths because they are one of the kitchen items that hang dirty and remain unnoticed. You can also microwave your dishcloths if washing them is a huge task for you. This way, the bacteria would be killed, or their activities inhibited.

However, before putting it in the microwave, it is advisable to rinse the cloth in clean water at least twice to reduce the food particles on it.


Dirty dishes should not be left out in the dishwasher overnight. Microorganisms decompose, build up, breed, and grow on dirty dishes.

They can cause food contamination, digestive issues, typhoid, cholera, and even malaria. To stop this, you should always wash your dishes as soon as possible after use.

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