Kitchen confrontations: Average household sees 217 arguments annually — just over cleaning dishes!

NEW YORK — Everyone wants to eat, but no one wants to deal with the aftermath. It’s a problem as old as time. “Whose turn is it to do the dishes again?”

Arguments over dirty dishes aren’t anything new, but you’ll probably be surprised to read just how often Americans are picking a fight over the kitchen sink. A recent survey of 2,000 U.S. adults reveals the average household sees a whopping 217 dish-related arguments annually!

That works out to 18 arguments each and every month revolving around loading and emptying the dishwasher, or leaving dishes to “pre-rinse” for days (or weeks) on end.

What exactly are people fighting about? On average, Americans fight four times per month about who should empty the dishwasher, as well as who should load it. Similarly, four fights are the norm when it comes to leaving dishes to soak in the sink, and another four spats about pre-rinsing dishes.

There’s also usually three arguments per month about leaving dishes in the sink when the dishwasher is empty.

This year has provided no shortage of reasons to feel anxious. But beyond pandemics or national elections, 60% of respondents feel extra stressed while doing the dishes. The survey, commissioned by Finish, also notes that 70% of Americans are actively trying to reduce their water use. So, that may have something to do with stress levels rising while washing the dishes.

Even more respondents (76%) are trying to make more decisions that benefit the environment. Still, over half of that group worry they aren’t doing enough. Another 75% of Americans always pre-rinse their dishes, but most admit this habit isn’t eco-friendly. In fact, 72% agree with the notion that pre-rinsing dishes is a waste of water.

Pre-rinsing dishes an unnecessary evil?

How much water goes to waste during a typical pre-rinsing session? The average survey respondent estimates 9.72 gallons of water is unnecessarily used for each pre-rinse.

“Consumers might not be aware of how much water they waste when pre-rinsing their dishes, but the numbers are staggering,” says David Romero, Global Category Director for Finish at RB. “Up to 20 gallons of water goes down the drain for each load of dishes that a person pre-rinses.”


Interestingly, 40% of respondents who usually pre-rinse learned the habit from their parents. However, as the years go on and new generations become parents, pre-rinsing appears to be heading toward extinction.

While 89% of Gen X’ers and 84% of Boomers often pre-rinse, only 68% of Gen Z and and 73% of millennials report doing the same. Gen Z respondents are most most likely to say that pre-rinsing is a waste of water (87%). Meanwhile, 70% of millennials agree with that sentiment.

Many Baby Boomers, however, are less willing to accept that pre-rinsing is harmful. In all, 57% of the older segment either disagree with or are neutral regarding the notion that pre-rinsing is harmful to the environment.

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.

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About the Author

John Anderer

Born blue in the face, John has been writing professionally for over a decade and covering the latest scientific research for StudyFinds since 2019. His work has been featured by Business Insider, Eat This Not That!, MSN, Ladders, and Yahoo!

Studies and abstracts can be confusing and awkwardly worded. He prides himself on making such content easy to read, understand, and apply to one’s everyday life.

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