Interview: Top Tips from Morgan Brashear, Scientific Communications Manager at Procter & Gamble

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It’s summer time! So, there’s no more pressing time for Canadians to spend their days outside. The thing is, despite the heat wave or tidal wave of food festivals to be enjoyed, self care still needs to happen. For example at a cottage weekend, everyone tends to eat communal meals and every meal is followed by relatively long period of tidying up, made even longer by folks pre-rinsing their dishes. How would life be if we could minimize that time spent? Danielle Finestone talks to Research & Development Expert at Proctor & Gamble, Morgan Brashear to settle the debate and pick up some tips.

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Danielle Finestone: Hello! Recently, I went to a Cascade event featuring Antonio Park where he talked both about dishes and cooking. It really drew me in and made me think, “This is something that people on @tofoodies would genuinely want to know”. So, it’s great to meet you and get a bit of your backstory and the story behind Cascade!

Morgan : I have a background in chemistry and biology, and I came to P&G in 2011 to work as research scientist in the lab for cascade. I did that for about 6 years! It was really fascinating, because I got to use a bit of my technical understanding of how products are created and the chemistry. I had all of this creative freedom, so I got to play around with cooking up foods that consumers having a hard time cleaning at home. Which leads me to my current role starting a year and a half ago; I’m the Scientific Communications Manager for Cascade and a few other P&G products. I have a passion for theatre and storytelling, and I feel like it helps me use my scientific background to tell the story in a different way.

D: How do you keep yourself inspired to continue telling that story?

M: My responsibility to stay up on trends. Whether it’s trends in food or trends in the home, looking at where the market of dishwashers are going all the way down to what people are remodelling their homes. I think that’s the most exciting part of it - being able to connect science with what’s happening in the world. Now, it’s my job to actually get out in front of the public and talk about some of the cool science behind our products. Which is amazing, because I think that we’re in an age where more and more people want to know more about what they’re using in their homes.

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D: Absolutely, so have you come up with any secrets for yourself?#CascadeNoRinse?

M: I know that one of the hardest habits to break is pre-rinsing dishes! But for the past 7 and a half years, I’ve seen the crazy amounts of junk that I can put into a dishwasher. So I find Cascade more and more stuck in my home, too. It will be like Cascade commercial in my kitchen: “Oh my goodness, you can’t put that dish in like that! You have to rinse it first!”. And I have to tell my friends, “Guys, this is exactly what I do for a living.

D: How much water is saved by not pre-washing dishes?

M: You can actually save 57 litres of water, per dishwasher load, by not pre-washing your dishes. We’ve done studies and if everyone who pre-washed today would stop doing and could trust that their detergent and dishwasher could get it clean, we would save 567 billion litres of water each year. Which is crazy.

D: So, pre-rinsing is a pretty common misconception! Any others out there about dishwashing?

M: Absolutely. Dishwashers use much less water than you would use if you were washing the same amount of dishes by hand, especially as appliances get more energy efficient. They’re using lower temperatures in the past and a lot less water to get the job done. We’ve been formulating for this because with less water cleaning, you need a more powerful product.

D: I’m curious, what is the craziest thing that you’ve put in the dishwasher that you really thought would not come off?

M: In the lab, the craziest thing that I baked was a cake, put the whole cake in. It came out! Or an entire pan of brownies- more of a torture test.

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D: For me, I try to save water by filling the dishwasher to the maximum so I have to do dishes less.... but then some things come out dirty sometimes. Can you overcrowd a dishwasher?

M: Definitely. It’s an art form to actually stack a dishwasher properly. We have some great tips and a video to show some common ways that people stack incorrectly and why it might lead to a failure why a dish might not be coming clean. But a good rule of thumb is dishwashers have a circulating arm at the bottom and sometimes underneath the top rack, spraying water in a circular pattern. You wanna make sure that all of the food is in a position where that water can hit it, so I like to stack all of those plates facing the centre of the dishwasher. When possible it’s best to put larger bowls, pots and pans facing down.

D: You’ve been at Cascade for 7+ years, so you must have seen a big shift over that time.  How are millennials different dishwashers than their parents?

M: We’re seeing a lot more what of we call, “clean-as-you-go”. Not just in dishwashing, but in cleaning in general. More of frequent cleaning, but in shorter bursts. The millennial generation is doing more swiffer-ing of the floor while they’re on a conference call, more maintenance clean-as-you-go. Very few millennials actually fill a sink full of water and dish liquid solution and wash. It’s much more washing dishes by hand, applying the dish liquid straight onto one dish, cleaning one by one.

D: How does that affect the industry?

M: There are a few trade offs; we’ll see that it’s reflected in the market of hand dish liquid. But then we kind of see the opposite sometimes, so millenials are figuring out what’s gonna work best for them. And without the education behind the water savings and environmental impact, people don’t know which to choose.

D: True and it could be very apartment-based! Millennials are moving around a bit more, not buying homes immediately. It could be that one year you have a dishwasher, one year you don’t.   

M: You’re absolutely right. Because with the age of marriage and children also increasing, you see more and more households with one or maybe 2 people in it with much fewer dishes than a larger family. So it will fluctuate on how frequently they’ve run the dishwasher. Especially in more urban areas where maybe you don’t have a dishwasher, but also you don’t have the kitchen space to do a lot of cooking. You eat more meals out or get takeout, with disposable containers.

D: One last question - is there anything that the ToFoodies readers would be surprised to hear about the R&D Cascade process?

M: In our dish lab, we actually have 72 dishwashers. We are following the trends of dishwashers themselves, so we always want to make sure that we’re testing a variety of machines that represent what people have in their home. We have some builder-grade department dishwashers all the way up to the most high tech and fancy. We do some very thorough testing to make sure that what we’re gonna put out is actually gonna give the consumer the best end benefit.

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In partnership with Cascade. Photography by Joshua Zuckerman.