Can You Leave Dirty Dishes In The Dishwasher Overnight? Should You?

With so many of us living busy lives, we often find ourselves running out of time to get all tasks done in the day.

Oftentimes, after a long day at work, all you want is to lazily kick your feet up and relax as you watch your favorite show.

Either because you are tired or just feeling lazy, this is the time when most of us tend to skip one of the most dreaded tasks: washing dishes.

In this regard, Can You Leave Dirty Dishes In The Dishwasher Overnight?

While you can technically leave dirty utensils in a dishwasher overnight, you probably should not. When dirty dishes are left in the dishwasher, the bacteria on them will breed overnight, but they won’t spread all over the kitchen. Because you don’t want the bacteria to spread to other parts of your kitchen, just make sure to run the dishwasher within a day after loading it.

If you are contemplating the idea of leaving dirty dishes in a dishwasher for an extended period of time, this post will discuss everything you need to know about washing dishes, emphasizing using a dishwasher.

Is It Bad To Leave Dirty Dishes In The Dishwasher?

You have cooked dinner for the whole family, and now you want to kick up your feet as you leave the dishes to soak.

While cleaning dishes immediately after meals is one of the best hygienic practices, many people tend to skip it with simple words like “I’m leaving them to soak”.

What’s more, doing the washing-up before going to bed sounds simple to stick to.

First off, there is no harm in leaving dirty dishes in a dishwasher.

However, there is a hygiene concern associated with skipping the washing up before going to bed.

Literally, leaving dirty dishes for hours creates room for the bacteria on those dishes to breed.

Over a prolonged period, the bacteria on your dishes can start spreading to the surrounding, consequently crawling all over your kitchen.

Precisely, this is why leaving dirty dishes is strongly discouraged.

Unless you are living alone, it is a good idea to wash your dishwasher every day. That way, you will reduce the risk of getting infections that may be caused by bacteria growing on your dishes.

If you don’t have access to a dishwasher, you can wash your dishes by hand.

Of significance, bacteria can stay alive on surfaces, even on clean surfaces, for up to four days.

Doing the washing-up before going to bed will help prevent the breeding of bacteria, ultimately minimizing the risk of infections.

How Long Can You Safely Leave Dirty Dishes In The Dishwasher?

Most homeowners and even college students have at some stage put off the mundane task of washing up dirty dishes for a day or two. Sometimes even longer.

As a result, concerned individuals ask how long dirty dishes can safely stay in the dishwasher.

So, How Long Can You safely Leave Dirty Dishes In The Dishwasher Before Running The Appliance?

There are no known issues or safety concerns that can occur due to leaving dirty dishes in the dishwasher over an extended period.

However, while the dishwasher will run no matter how long you leave it loaded with dirty dishes, getting the dishes clean and sanitary is another thing altogether.

Not doing the dishes is a common way to spread bacteria all over your kitchen and in your house.

That’s why it is important to keep up with the washing up.

Considering that dishwashers do not need human effort or your time to run, it is imperative and makes perfect sense to run the appliance once you have loaded it.

If you live alone and your dishes can not make a full load, consider running your dishwasher after every two to three days. That way, bacteria will be less likely to spread in your kitchen.

Else, if you are like most cleaning and productivity experts, you may consider doing the washing up every day before going to bed.

Five Dishwasher Mistakes You Should Avoid

Dishwashers are excellent appliances that help us keep up with washing dishes and sanitary, ultimately saving time of doing the dishes, saving water, and reducing the risk of infections.

All in all, as with other appliances, dishwashers need to be operated properly to perform at their best

Here are some of the mistakes you need to avoid when using your dishwasher:

1. Overfilling

It is common knowledge that running half-full loads is a waste of water along with risking breakage of dishes.

On the other hand, while it is a good idea to maximize space when filling the dishwasher, overloading the machine can easily damage it as the dishes bump into each other.

When filling your dishwasher, space the dishes so that each dish has enough space it needs to get clean.

2. Putting The Dishes With Too Much Food In The Dishwasher

Modern-day dishwashers are designed to effortlessly remove food residue from dishes.

Well, while this means that you don’t necessarily need to pre-wash dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, it is worthwhile noting that even the most advanced dishwasher can develop problems when tasked to remove too much food from dishes.

For this reason, it is important to scrape your dishes to remove any large food particles.

3. Running Everything Through The Dishwasher

Dishwashers are miracle machines that help us keep our dishes clean.

While this makes it very tempting to run everything through a dishwasher, some items aren’t supposed to go into the dishwasher.

Even if you are the laziest in doing the dishes, avoid putting cast-iron, wood, copper, and delicate glassware in the dishwasher.

These non-dishwasher-safe items can break or crack, making for a big mess to clean up and potentially damaging your dishwasher and other dishes.

4. Running A Partially Filled Dishwasher

Running a half-full dishwasher may seem like a better idea simply because leaving the dishes overnight can spread bacteria in your space.

The bad news is that running the dishwasher when it is not full is a waste of energy and water.

Small loads can use twice as much water and detergent over a couple of loads.

Besides, half-full loads allow dishes to bang and bump around with more force, increasing the risk for breakage.

5. Using Too Much Detergent

This is another very common mistake among many dishwasher users.

Just because you left your dishes overnight doesn’t mean you will need extra detergent to clean them.

So, just as important as choosing the best dishwasher detergent, make sure to use the right measurements of the detergent.

After all, adding extra detergent doesn’t do any miracles.

Using too much detergent can leave a sticky residue on your dishes and, worse, the taste of soap.

While there are unavoidable reasons why you may leave dirty dishes in the dishwasher, you should avoid these dishwasher mistakes that are likely to result from dishes piling up.


Leaving dirty dishes in the dishwasher or the sink is one of the common ways of spreading bacteria in your house. That’s why it is strongly discouraged.

While you can still leave your dirty dishes in the dishwasher overnight without experiencing any issues, it is best to keep up with doing the washing up.

That way, you will minimize the risk of infections.

Hopefully, after reading this post, you have gathered insight into how you can best avoid dishwasher mistakes, consequently keeping your miracle machine working at its best.