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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.
Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 6 years
I agree about running the disposal before starting the dishwasher. And cleaning out the filter. I don't clean it every time, but I clean it as often as I remember. Also, I don't put my knives or wine glasses in the dishwasher. Those are some things I think should be hand washed instead of run through the dishwasher. :shrug: I don't think it's necessary to completely pre-rinse your dishes...but you shouldn't just throw super dirty food funked dishes in either. That's a surefire way to clog the dishwasher, especially if it's crappy like mine. So I typically fill the sink with water and use that water to get any big food bits off all the dishes before I put them in the dishwasher.
Ellenora Ellenora 6 years
I was taught to put silverware handles down. I'm somewhat disabled (I have high-functioning Autism and Cerebral Palsy) and that I tend to injure myself quite frequently so everything goes handle down.
Julia-Millay-Walsh Julia-Millay-Walsh 6 years
Great tips, fuzzles!! Thank you for sharing.
Soniabonya Soniabonya 6 years
avoid dirty backwash and putting the forks and knives upwards. good to know. maybe now they will get cleaned!
fuzzles fuzzles 6 years
Usually they are found underneath the lower basket of the machine where the water drains. Some are removable and just need a rinse under the kitchen faucet. If not, a swipe with one of those Clorox wipes or a cleaning cloth dipped in bleach water. Almost forgot! Flush out and run your garbage disposal with water before you run a load. This will prevent any dirty backwash. I don't know why I know these things.
Susannah-Chen Susannah-Chen 6 years
Fuzzles, where is the filter? I need to know more about this!
fuzzles fuzzles 6 years
Clean your filter (bottom of the machine) after every use, otherwise you will be spraying funky food particles from one load to the next.
Julia-Millay-Walsh Julia-Millay-Walsh 6 years
Anyone have any other dishwashing tips? Please share below!
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