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Teen Balks After Stepmom Insists They Wash And Scrub Dishes Before Putting Them In Dishwasher

Teenager looking at dishwasher
Larisa Stefanuyk/Getty Images

Anyone who has ever lived with another person in their lives knows that rules around cleaning can cause tensions in a home.

A Redditor who has since deleted their account recently found themselves at odds with their stepmom over dishes.

This led the Original Poster (OP) to subReddit “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA).

They asked:

“AITA for not seeing the point in washing the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher?”

They went on to tell their story.

“So I [age 17] go to my dads place every 14 days, and my stepmom has some weird rules and I don’t understand them.”

“The one I find the hardest to see the meaning of, is washing the dishes with hot water and the dish brush so the dishes aren’t dirty when putting them in the dishwasher.”

“I’m generally not used to it so I often forget to do it, and when I do remember I just wash the dishes (with soap) and put them away.”

“My stepmom however is upset with both, and she told me it’s disrespectful that I don’t respect her rules.”

“I told her that I didn’t see the point of putting clean dishes in the dishwasher, so if I was going to wash them anyway, I might as well wash the properly and put them away.”

“She still insisted it was wrong and that I was being rude and unfair, she also said I wouldn’t talk to my mom like this.”

“And well my mom puts dirty dishes in the dishwasher except for certain knives and pans, so it makes sense, however I do argue with my mom about other things, so I probably talk to her that way too (?).”

“Anyway in the start I was certain it was right, but over time it has kept being an issue and she gets more and more upset, so am I an a**hole?”

“Edit: someone said I should put this here, other rules are like:”

  • “not sitting on the floor, or spending too much time in my room, not looking at my phone while watching tv…”
  • “I’m expected to respond when I’m talked to even if it’s from different rooms or she’s talking to me with her back turned (I struggle to understand people when I can’t see their faces).”

“My dad sometimes asks her to stop, but then she gets upsets and kinda slams the door so he stays silent most of the time”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

    • NTA – Not The A**hole
    • YTA – You’re The A**hole
    • NAH – No A**holes Here
    • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors decided:

“Honestly if you have to prewash the dishes for them to go in the dishwasher at that point i think its better to just hand wash them at that point. Depending on how many dishes there are.”

“If your step mother gets angry over hand washing dishes too. Yikes.. I’m going more towards NTA.” – SpeedBlitzX


“I get brushing crumbs and actual bits of food off plates before putting them in the dishwasher, but really washing them before putting them in is a waste of water.”

“However I personally think it would be better for you if you didn’t make this the hill you die on.” – annamariapix

“NTA She’s literally wrong. Dishwashers need some amount of grime for the detergent to grab on to, that’s how the detergent is designed.”

“The correct way to do dishes is to scrape off chunks of food and place the unrinsed dishes in the dishwasher.” – Reasonable-Hat-4482

“2 reasons to rinse your dishes:”

“1. Some dishwashers are SH*T at cleaning anything that is tough to remove. I know, it sort of defeats the purpose, but rn ours is one of these”

“2. Dishwashers get gross. There is a filter in there that traps all of that leftover food, and let me tell you, it can be slimy and nasty, and start to smell. To avoid this, RINSE OFF THE FOOD”

“YTA. The rule isn’t there just because she wants to be an AH. While you’re there, do what you have to do to follow the rules.”


“NTA based upon edit to OP’s original story. This is about more than just the dishwasher and how OP cleans the dishes he uses.”

“SM sounds super controlling, not like someone with a little OCD tendency when it comes to the dishes in the kitchen.”

“That said, my dishwasher totally sucks. I rinse the bits off of everything in the sink, but use the hot water from the dishwasher to clean off any fats or grease off as I don’t use hot water when I rinse.”

“We rent, and I’m not doing anything to increase the value of my landlord’s property on my own dime.”

“We use the dishwasher tablets to deep clean it (more than monthly) – and I’ve tried different brands. We’ve tried different types of detergent. We fill the pre-wash side.”

“We empty the filter after every use. We try out the excess water at the bottom after every use. I’ve used cleaning vinegar in there on an empty load.”

“I’ve sprayed and scrubbed the inside down with The Pink Stuff. We cleaned out the spinning things that spray the water.”

“Between our hard water and sh*tty dishwasher, I’ve never had the problem that I have here.”

“In a nutshell: If a dish goes in my dishwasher with something on it, it’s coming out of the load with whatever still on it.”

“</EDIT>” – NotCreativeAtAll16

“I lean NTA on this one.”

“If there’s not too many people in a household, dirty dishes kept in a dishwasher a long time between cycles might have caked on grime that doesn’t get removed properly if the machine is older or less powerful.”

“If you’re washing the dishes with soap and putting them away, there shouldn’t be any problem.”

“Fighting over this is really petty, but you’ve put in an effort to resolve the issue. Instead of pulling rank, she could explain why she likes it done her way.”

“In the future, just do like she wants and use the hot water and dish brush.” – spiritfiend


“Everyone has their own way of doing things. The dishes are still getting cleaned so she’s creating pointless drama. Must be one of those my way or the highway types” – Pangiom

“Your dad volunteered to put up with her. You did not.”

“She’s a controller. Can you stop going over there? It’s every other weekend, I’d just stop.”

“If your dad can’t handle his wife’s tantrums and negative behavior, he doesn’t deserve to see you.”

“Washing the dishes and then putting them in the dishwasher is unnecessary. It’s a waste of water. Yes, I am aware of the filter and everything that works with a dishwasher.”

“This isn’t about a dishwasher. This is about this woman screwing with her step kid because she can.”

“When the dad asks her to stop, the SM stomps around and slams doors. Stop telling people to just accept any treatment, no matter how poor.”

“‘rules are like not sitting on the floor, or spending too much time in my room, not looking at my phone while watching tv…”

“…I’m expected to respond when I’m talked to even if it’s from different rooms or she’s talking to me with her back turned’”

“Feel free to treat her however you want. NTA.” – slendermanismydad

“NTA if you are prepared to wash them by hand properly because her rule is honestly just extra work and a waste of water, yes it’s her house but it’s also your dad’s.”

“The dishes are getting done either way and this seems like one of those times when adults like to pull the ‘because I said so cards.’”

“you are 17 not 7 if she is not willing to explain why she likes them done her way then keep doing as you as doing.”

“You are not being disrespectful by asking questions or doing a chore your own way.” – Relevant_Ambition272

“NTA for believing that dishes don’t need to be scrubbed before they go into the dishwasher.”

“As a few other posters have pointed out, if the dishwasher is newer (made in the last decade or so) it actually doesn’t wash the dishes as well (or successfully sanitize them) if they’ve been pre-rinsed because the sensors don’t detect there’s any real need to wash them.”

“If your stepmom is one of those who believes the dishwasher is for only sanitizing though, I doubt you’re going to change her mind or convince her that her dishwasher probably isn’t even accomplishing that.” – PurpleMarsAlien

“NTA and every single person voting otherwise is completely ignoring the fact that you fully washed the dishes by hand and she STILL had an issue with it.”

“They’re also acting like you were trying to put dishes directly in the dishwasher without rinsing which is not what you said.”

“This woman wants dishes to be hand washed and run through the dishwasher. That makes no sense, is wasteful, and super controlling.” – Ceecee_soup

“I’m going NTA based off of the edit you added regarding what other ridiculous rules she has.”

“If you’ve already hand washing them why on earth would you also put them in the dishwasher? She sound like an extremely controlling person and I’m sorry you have to be around her” – ariesgal11

This relationship sounds like it’s doomed to circle the drain.

Written by B. Miller

B. is a creative multihyphenate who enjoys the power and versatility of the written word. She enjoys hiking, great food and drinks, traveling, and vulnerable conversation. Raised below the Mason Dixon, thriving above it. (she/her)