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How to Load Your Dishwasher

Learn to Load Your Dishwasher Like a Pro

Now that we've covered the question of what is dishwasher-safe, I thought I'd move on to an equally important subject: how to load your dishwasher. The task may seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised by how many people earn a capital F in Dishwashing 101— I'm talking to you, roommate. It also may seem like a trivial matter to some of you; as long as you can fit all the dirty plates in, it's OK, right? Err — no. The way you arrange your pots and spoons not only affects how well they're cleaned, but can be a deciding factor in whether they become tarnished, chipped, or even broken. So here's the lowdown on loading:

  • Arrange your dishes by height, placing the larger ones on the outside. Turn all of your plates and bowls to face the middle of machine/dish drawer.
  • Put wine glasses and other delicate glassware and dishes on the top rack. Face glassware downward if they fit, and leaning diagonally across two rows if not.
  • Place small, round cereal bowls face-down on the top rack.
  • Put pots, pans, and other heavy-duty dishes (like serving platters) on the bottom rack, where the water pressure and temperature are higher.
  • Separate stainless steel and pure silver; if they touch, a chemical reaction can cause pitting and tarnishing.

Continue reading for more of these tips — and a few on unloading!

  • Aside from very sharp knives, place silverware in the basket handle-first, so knife blades and fork tines are pointing upward.
  • Within each basket, separate knives, forks, and spoons — utensils of the same shape (i.e. two knives) can become stuck and won't be cleaned.
  • Make sure there are no large pots or dishes blocking your machine's water source.
  • Set your glassware and mugs in the top rows between the prongs, rather than over them.
  • On the same note, place all items between the prongs, making sure they don't touch to prevent chipping.

And here's some bonus advice for unloading the dishwasher:

  • After the cycle completes, leave the dishwasher open for a few minutes to let it completely air-dry before you unload.
  • Unload the silverware first, pulling the caddy out of the dishwasher if possible — this is safer!
  • Next, empty the bottom rack, followed by the top rack, which may still have slightly wet dishes, like tall wine glasses.
Source: Thinkstock
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