Is It Better to Wash Dishes with Hot or Cold Water?

Most people wash their dishes using soap and running water from the sink at room temperature.

And this has worked for many people because it cleans the dirt and grime visible to the human eye.

But just because you cannot see dirt doesn’t mean your utensils are 100% clean.

So, Is It Better to Wash Dishes with Hot or Cold Water?

When deciding whether to use hot or cold water, it is not an obvious choice as many of us think. While most Americans prefer to wash their tableware with warm water, washing dishes with cold water is common in Lebanon and Argentina.

The goal of washing dishes is to remove dirt and grime, which form a breeding environment for bacteria that can cause food poisoning. While you might think hot water does the trick is not always the case. 

In short, washing dinnerware with cold or hot water is a personal choice. 

Why Is Washing Your Dishes with Cold Water a Good Idea?

1. Protein Dissolution

Did you know that cold water dissolves proteins better compared to hot water?

If you didn’t, now you do. For this reason, using cold water to wash your dishes makes sense.

Think about it: why do we wash blood-stained clothes with cold water, not hot water?

Because hot water can encourage the proteins to stick to the fabric instead of coming out.

If you’ve cooked eggs, meat, and other protein-rich ingredients, it’s best to wash your dishes using cold water.

2. It’s Convenient

If you don’t have hot water taps in your home, you have to heat hot water for your dishes.

At first, it may not sound difficult. But, if you wash dishes more than three times a day, heating water every time may start to feel tedious.

The advantage of cold water is that you only need to turn the tap on or fetch if you are camping, then you can start washing your dishes.

3. It’s Cheaper

Heating water increases your energy bills more than when you use cold water from your taps.

So, when you wash your utensils with cold water, you may save energy and money.

Why Is Washing Your Dishes with Hot Water a Good Idea?

1. To Kill Germs

Bacteria need a cool environment to survive. So, it’s a bit risky to wash and rinse your tableware with cold water.

In that case, you can switch to hot water as it can kill bacteria and other microorganisms dangerous to your health.

However, remember that the ideal temperature to kill germs is too hot for our bare hands.

But if you are using a dishwasher, you wouldn’t have trouble.

2. To Lift Off Grease

Hot water cleans better than cold water as it quickly breaks down oil and fat.

Remember that these solidify when it’s cold, making them hard to remove on dishes.

Therefore, it is not advisable to run cold water on them.

Instead, soak utensils in hot water for a few minutes and use dish soap to allow the grease to dissolve. Once it does, you can easily clean your tableware.

3. Faster Drying Time

After removing the grease, you can rinse your dishes with hot or cold water.

But, experts recommend using hot water as it dries out quickly compared to cool or warm water.

As such, you won’t need to hand dry your dishes.

Rinsing with hot water is convenient if you want to use your utensils immediately or want to store them as soon as you are done washing them.

4. Dish Soap Works Better with Hot Water

Many dish soaps are designed to work with cold water.

The heat quickly dissolves the soap allowing it to coat your dishes.

Since the soap is made more effective, you will use less.

You won’t need to pour too much soap to get a good lather on your dishes.

A few drops will do. That way, you can save money while ensuring that your dishes are clean.

5. Reduce Water Spots

Since hot water dries out quickly, your utensils will have fewer water spots and streaks.

Seeing water spots after washing your dishes can be frustrating.

They occur when hard water dries out, leaving the dishes with mineral deposits.

The more time the water takes to dry, the higher the chances of water spots.

Therefore, minimize their occurrence by rinsing with hot water.

6. To Prevent Food Stains

Hot water quickly dissolves stains.

The same way it works on clothes is the same way it works on dishes.

If you have any stained plates or cups, soak them in hot water ASAP.

This way, you will use less soap and effort when scrubbing your dishes.

Less scrubbing and scraping prevents you from damaging your dishes.

What is the Ideal Temperature for Washing Utensils?

Experts recommend temperatures of 80 degrees to get the job done.

Note that most hot water from the kitchen taps has a temperature of 104 to 131 degrees.

But although 131 degrees is effective in killing bacteria, it can scald your hands if you use it for a long time.

Tips and Techniques

  • If you are using cold water to wash your dishes, please add a detergent and swirl it around.
  • This creates a mixture that can remove dirt from your dishes effectively.
  • Also, remember to use the abrasive side of the sponge to scrub dishes. Then once done, thoroughly rinse your dishes.
  • If you are worried about remaining bacteria on your utensils, you can wash them with a solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach and 1 gallon of water.
  • Dip your dinnerware in it and rinse the dishes again. Then pat dry them.
  • If you are using hot water, wear rubber gloves, especially if your hands are too sensitive.
  • Also, it is advisable to soak your dishes for some minutes before washing them. This allows them to break down grease and stains, making it easy to scrub.

Other tips to help you include;

  • Rinsing food particles first before washing your dishes
  • Replacing your sponges and scrubbers at least twice a month, depending on how often you clean
  • Start by washing glasses and silverware


You can use hot or cold water to wash your dishes.

However, because it easily removes dirt and stubborn particles while also killing bacteria, many people prefer using hot water.

Regardless of the temperature you use, ensure the water is clean and wash your utensils thoroughly.