Is there a health threat of any magnitude from bits of food left on "clean" dishes?

My stepdaughter sucks at washing the dishes. When I go to put the dry dishes away, I have to re-wash 50% or more. She rinses them, occasionally uses soap, and leaves residue on a lot of dishes (including silverware).

I tried for about two years to make her do it properly, but apparently (and this came as a huge shock to me, of course ;)), I’m not her mother and I can’t tell her what to do. Besides, I’ve checked into it and have decided that it isn’t nice to make fun of the mentally challenged, which is what any person must be who is over the age of 15 and can’t wash a dish. Clearly, she rinses them until they look clean, but they are not sanitized…

That struggle is a whole 'nuther story.

What I want to know is if the rest of the family is at risk for any kind of bacterial poisoning from half-assed washed dishes.

She would not survive employment as a diswasher at an eatery inspected by the health department. :rolleyes:

The risk is probably miniimal even though it is contrary to your ideas of cleanliness.
You either have to take over the diswashing chores or take the risk! :slight_smile:

Save a few of the really poorly washed ones and serve her food on them.

We’re kinda torn between watching her do absolutely nothing around the house and being able to sit back with a couple cocktails and behold the one chore she will perform on a regular basis. It’s become a spectator event for my husband and me.

We tried that. No response. To her, eating off a dirty dish in her own home is okay. As if bacteria doesn’t grow in our house, but I doubt she would use a utensil in a restaurant that had gunk on it.

Eh, probably won’t kill you. Honestly, though, unless the dish in question had raw meat on it, I wouldn’t worry about it being sanitized. A godo rinse with as hot as her skin can stand water with some dish soap will get rid of most thigns, and even if there’s some food residue still stuck, there’s a good chance thecombo of hot water and soap killed most bacteria anways,

Besides, who wants to live in a sterile enviroment? It gives your immune system a good work out. :stuck_out_tongue:

I was really hoping that there was some deadly food-borne bacterial dysentery that I could use as leverage to get her to do a better job, but thanks to you smarty-pants people out there, I have no ammo. :wink:

I’m sure someone can come in and give a rundown of all the nasties that could be on the ill-washed plates, and then we’d have someone else talk about whether the soap or the hot water would kill them, and then some more talk about poop maybe, or exponential growth, and then someone would bring up the whole anti-bacterial overload issue, then the homeopathic folk might chime in; I don’t think we really want to do that, do you?

Wait, this is SDMBGQ.

[gwb]Bring it on![/gwb]


I wouldn’t worry about anything. Remember, things in “chunks” lose moisture proportionally to their surface area, whilst the amount of water in them is proportional to their volume. So small bits just dry up quickly and become too dry to support fast bacterial growth. (Note I’m not a biologist, I just read a lot).

Unless you live in a very very humid environment, that is.

I was a surly teenager and did a poor job of getting the dishes clean. My mom would say that after I washed them, the dishes would have to be put in the refrigerator to keep them from spoiling!

I am so going to use that!

…with your permission of course

The most serious problem with this is that the food chunks may dry out, but that won’t kill bacteria, just put them to sleep. So the chunks themselves are a potential source of food poisoning.

You’ve prepared a meat dish by cooking it and effectively sterilising it, and then you’ve let it cool for 15 minutes while eating it, and probably another hour before washing it. In all that time the meat residue has had time to grow bugs. Then you wash it badly and let it dry. But the bacterial count is still just as high as ever.

Then you get that same piece of cutlery/crockery and use it to inoculate a nice piece fresh of chicken during preparation. It’s about as sensible as taking the fresh meat and rubbing it in the dirt.

And just like rubbing uncooked meat in the dirt it’s not really a problem provided that you don’t give the stuff time to grow. Take the meat, inoculate it and cook it within 20 minutes and there is no problem. The problem comes if you are using the dirty implements to prepare food for storage. Then you’ve got problem’s. You’ve introduced a nice load of potentially pathogenic bacteria into some fresh potato salad that’s then stored rather than being cooked. They bugs immediately start to grow rapidly and a few hours later the food is guaranteed to have you living in the bathroom for days.

Like most unhygienic practises this one isn’t guaranteed or even likely to cause illness on any given day or even any given month. Of course the same is true of not washing your hands or having a rotten sheep carcass in your lounge room. Realistically none of them will give you any illness most of the time. But none of them are good practices because they represent cumulative small chances of very serious illness. Every day you spend not washing up properly, not washing your hands and leaving the sheep carcass to decay is not just unpleasant, it’s adding to the chance of the draw coming up against you.

It’s sure not recommended. It is precisely on par with not washing your hands before preparing food, and for exactly the same reasons. It’s not that human hands or chunks of yesterday’s meals are deadly in themselves, it’s that they represent a source by which nasty bacteria can get into food, where it can then grow and cause seriously unpleasant illness if the food is left to stand for any period of time.

As my father would say,
don’t sweat it, it’s clean dirt. :eek:

I remember watching a TV news special a few years ago about where in the home there was likely to be the most dangerous bacteria. There was a scientist who specialized in that type of thing, and one of his more memorable comments was, “If you could see all the distribution of bacteria in your home, you’d feel like drinking from the toilet and taking a crap in the kitchen sink.”

“I was really hoping that there was some deadly food-borne bacterial dysentery that I could use as leverage to get her to do a better job, but thanks to you smarty-pants people out there, I have no ammo.”

While the problem is minor, it is a possibility. More probably you would just get the runs later and might not make the connection.

A bigger risk of gastro-intestinal discomfort is the soap she might leave on the dishes.

If it was me, I would realize that no amount of facts will convince her so just nuke your plate. It has the added benefit of keeping your food warm longer!