The American Cleaning Institute (ACI)

Scrape, Don’t Rinse: A Simple Way to Save Water and Make Thanksgiving More Sustainable

Thanksgiving Dinner

As dishes are cleared from tables in millions of homes this Thanksgiving, those celebrating can save a significant amount of water by scraping their dishes instead of rinsing them before they are put into the dishwasher.

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) and American Cleaning Institute (ACI) are asking consumers to take this simple step to conserve water and create a more sustainable Thanksgiving.

“Nearly 90 million households across the U.S. have dishwashers, and many will be hard at work on the busiest cooking day of the year,” said Kelly Mariotti, AHAM president and CEO. “It is a common misconception that dishes need to be rinsed before they are put into the dishwasher. Dishwashers have been rigorously tested by manufacturers and are up to the task, on Thanksgiving and every day. If everyone hosting Thanksgiving dinner skips pre-rinsing their dishes and saves just one gallon of water, millions of gallons of water can potentially be saved. You will have more time to relax with family and friends by letting your dishwasher do the work, and we will all share the benefits of conserving water.”

“Let’s be thankful that we have the dishwasher detergents and appliances on-hand to effectively clean our dishes while saving energy and water,” said Melissa Hockstad, ACI President & CEO.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that hand-washing a full load of dishes can use anywhere from 9 to 27 gallons of water. Newer regular-sized ENERGY STAR® dishwashers use 3.5 gallons per cycle or less, and newer standard dishwasher models use a maximum of 5 gallons per cycle. Kitchen faucets run at a maximum of 2.2 gallons per minute. Running the kitchen faucet for even two minutes could use as much or more water than an entire dishwasher cycle, even before the dishes are washed.

A recent NielsenIQ survey found that 91% of U.S. consumers plan on celebrating Thanksgiving, with 59% staying at home.

Beyond not pre-rinsing, here are a few other simple steps you can take to save water on Thanksgiving:

  • Don’t overload your dishwasher. Trying to put in more dishes than your dishwasher can hold can block spray arms and prevent other dishes from being cleaned.
  • Some dishwashers include “half-rack” or “half-load” settings for smaller loads. You likely will save water even if you aren’t doing a full load of dishes.

For more information on dishwashing best practices for Thanksgiving, visit the Cleaning Is Caring blog.

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) is the trade association representing manufacturers of major, portable and floor care home appliances and suppliers to the industry. AHAM is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and maintains an office in Ottawa. AHAM is the single voice providing the home appliance industry and its customers leadership, advocacy and a forum for action — developing and implementing credible solutions for public policy, standards and business decisions. You can visit AHAM’s website at or follow us on Twitter @AHAM_Voice and @AHAM_Policy.

The American Cleaning Institute® (ACI – is the Home of the U.S. Cleaning Products Industry® and represents the $60 billion U.S. cleaning product supply chain. ACI members include the manufacturers and formulators of soaps, detergents, and general cleaning products used in household, commercial, industrial and institutional settings; companies that supply ingredients and finished packaging for these products; and chemical distributors. ACI serves the growth and innovation of the U.S. cleaning products industry by advancing the health and quality of life of people and protecting our planet. ACI achieves this through a continuous commitment to sound science and being a credible voice for the cleaning products industry.