Reasons to Use Hot Water When Washing Dishes

drying rack and dishes

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

Anyone who washes dishes by hand knows that keeping your hands in hot water is uncomfortable. If you're tempted to cool the situation down by using cool water, you may be more comfortable, but your dishes won't get as clean. There are good reasons you should use hot water when washing dishes. Don't be a wimp—buy a heavy-duty pair of bright yellow household gloves to protect your hands from super hot water. You'll look cool, and your dishes will be grease-free.

Offers Superior Cleaning Power

Washing dishes in hot water actually lifts away food and grime from dirty dishes, which reduces the amount of time you have to spend scrubbing. As a result, you spend less cash on dish cleaning products, and you'll get out of the kitchen quicker.

Kills Bacteria and Microorganisms

Hot water is needed to effectively kill bacteria on dishes. It may seem like you can squeeze a little more use out of a dishpan full of cool water, but compromising your family's exposure to bacteria is not worth the extra trouble of running a new pan of hot water.

Cuts Grease

Water temperatures less than about 90 F leave a nasty greasy film on your dishes when they dry. Water's grease-cutting ability is severely hampered by cool temperatures, leaving your dishes less than clean.

Reduces Drying Time

Hot water dries much more quickly on dishes than warm or cool water. In a sense, dishes dry themselves if the water temperature during the rinse is hot. As an added benefit, dishes dry spot- and streak-free with hot water. Some people try to conserve hot water during the rinsing part of dishwashing and just hand dry dishes. Keep in mind that pools of water and wet dishtowels are a haven for bacteria. You may have just spent a lot of effort to get dishes clean only to contaminate them again.


If you are still struggling with the water temperature, here are a few tips:

  • Don't let food dry on dishes or pots and pans. Scrape and wash them right away in the warmest water you can stand. You'll spend a lot less time with your hands in the water.
  • Fill the sink or dishpan with super hot water and a squirt of grease-cutting dishwashing liquid. Put the dishes in to soak. When the water cools enough to be tolerable to you, the dishes will already be almost grease-free and any stuck-on food will be soft.
  • Wear two pairs of gloves at the same time for extra protection.
  • If your water is super hot, you might be able to lower the temperature on the hot water heater to a more reasonable temperature.