"It's not worth using the dishwasher: by the time you've gotten your dishes clean enough to put in, you might as well just finish washing them yourself."
People have a wide range of ways they deal with dishes before putting them in the dishwasher:
Rinse well. The dishes should look clean before they go in.
Rinse lightly. It's fine if the dishes don't look clean, but they should be close.
Scrape well. There shouldn't be anything on the dishes that further scraping would remove.
Scrape lightly. Get most of the food off, but it's fine if some stuff remains.
Do nothing. Just dump the whole thing in there, food and all. [Not recommended.]
Earlier options are more work, give you cleaner dishes, and mean you need to manually clean the dishwasher's filter less often. Later are the reverse.
In my experience, people tend to be too far towards the early end for their particular dishwasher and time-cleanliness preferences. This makes sense: if you're too far toward the later end you notice and adjust, while in the other direction there's no signal that you could be doing better. Try a later option; you could be putting effort into pre-cleaning for minimal impact on your dishes. It's a cheap experiment to run: there's a good chance you're happy, and if not you can just re-run this load and go back to more thorough pre-cleaning.
Personally, I'm pretty happy with #4. It's very little work, and usually all the dishes come out clean. When one is still dirty, I just include it in the next load after scraping a bit. If dishes come out unusually dirty it's generally because something was loaded wrong (too tall on the bottom rack, poking through the middle rack) and prevented the middle arm from spinning.
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