How’s your lower intestine?

DO you rinse?

Or do you risk serious mutation by eating from plates and cutlery that have been marinaded in washing-up liquid?

I don’t know what the after-effects might be, but I suspect the very least one could expect would be a sparkling lower intestine. Maybe that’s a good thing.

I must stress that, as a young man, we didn’t rinse. I must have swallowed more detergent — mopped up from my plate with the cornflakes or the stew — than I have since swallowed beer.

“Well it doesn’t seem to have done you any harm,” I hear you say.

Ask my wife. My ex-wife. She may have a different point of view. Something must have made me not nice to live with. A sparkling lower intestine wouldn’t do that, surely?

But I’ve changed. Nowadays I am cautious about eating at the homes of friends. I don’t want to help with the washing up afterwards and discover they don’t rinse! Oh my God!

I don’t know if I’m the exception or the rule. I do know that in England virtually no one rinses. And I know that in Poland the idea of eating off plates that have dry detergent on them is considered almost as much a sin (in this heavily Catholic country) as not believing in God. But in Australia? No idea.

The internet wasn’t any help either. All I found there was advice that said: “For most of your washing up, unless you have had to use a lot of washing up liquid or soap, there is little need to rinse. If your washing up is not excessively dirty, but tastes soapy if not rinsed, consider that you may be using more soap than necessary…”

Tastes soapy? Great God we’ve all gone mad!

I have no idea what the prognosis might be from ingesting detergent by the squeezie‑bottleful, but that’s not the point.

The point is: why? Why would you, when you don’t have to? I drank a coffee once from a cup that had been dish-washed. I could taste the stuff they washed it in. Later that evening my face swelled like a puffer fish. I think I grew an extra ear.

The thing is that, before it was washed, the cup had only had coffee in it. You don’t need to wash a coffee cup in anything but water.

When I swinging off the hem of my mum’s apron there was no detergent. It hadn’t been invented. My mum used to wash up in hot water. Didn’t matter whether it was greasy bacon trays, the dish the crackling had been on, or a plate covered in lamb fat. They all got washed in water. True, it was so hot that your finger nails would drop off three days later, but it didn’t have any harmful side effects in your insides, where you had no idea what it might doing.

Now everything gets washed in detergent, even if it’s not necessary. With beer glasses it’s a positive crime. Detergent doesn’t just kill grease – it kills froth. Beer froth, that is. If your glass wasn’t rinsed, and your beer’s bubbly, it’s detergent, not beer.

I know parents who even bung it in their children’s bath water because it stops a ring forming round the bath. I bet they don’t bath in it themselves, though.

So what do you do? Rinse? Or not rinse? I’d really like to know, if only so I can remember to have a previous appointment when you invite me to dinner.