How To Properly Load A Dishwasher

Words: Katrina Rose Wind

Raise your right hand if you’re constantly getting scolded by your partner for incorrectly loading the dishwasher – if it fits, it fits right? Wrong, apparently. There is a method to loading the dishwasher, a *science* behind it if you will. And since we’re now all probably using the dishwasher more than ever, now’s a good time to learn how to get the most out of your machine.

Location Counts

Like me, you’ve probably thought that it doesn’t matter where you put things in the dishwasher. Top rack or bottom rack, it’s all the same. It’s not. There are certain items you should put on the top that you shouldn’t put on the bottom rack.


Top Rack: All plastic items, especially your Tupperware should be placed on the top rack. The heat of the dishwasher comes from the bottom and could warp the plastics. Mugs, glasses, small bowls, spatulas, colanders and other large utensils should be placed on top. Make sure to place them upside down, so that they can be cleaned properly.

Bottom Rack: All the larger items — pots, pans, bowls, plates, you name it belong on the bottom rack. Put your baking trays and cutting boards on the sides to make more space but to also avoid blocking the spray in the dishwasher. One thing to remember is to load things from back to front, in order to fit more things in.

Stop Overloading!

I know we’re all trying to be a little more environmentally conscious, but overloading the dishwasher is just going to overcrowd everything and that means you’ll end up with some uncleaned items. You want your dishes and utensils to be cleaned evenly and the only way this is going to happen is if you avoid stacking items on top of each other. Spread them out evenly, so that there is enough room for the water and soap to be dispersed evenly.

Not Necessary To Rinse, But You Still Should

You don’t have to spend a lot of time on this one but it should still be done if the plate is sticky from curry, stew or sauce residue. The dishwasher will get most of the job done, so it’s really not necessary to rinse everything but you also want to avoid ‘stinking up’ your dishwasher. Go ahead and scrape off those bits of food and give your dishes a young rinse, before you load and press start.

No, Plates Should Not Face the Same Direction

The dishwasher spray is actually in the middle of the machine. So, for that reason, you want all the plates (face front) to face towards the middle. And as mentioned above, make sure that all your cups and bowls are facing downwards or if they’re smaller bowls, facing the middle.

Utensil Placement

dishwasherFor the most part, all the utensils should be facing upwards except for the knives, but that’s just for safety when you’re unloading. In order to ensure that all your utensils are getting properly cleaned, make sure to not overcrowd the utensil basket. We want to minimise scratches and make sure that every surface is cleaned, so stop overcrowding! Another tip when it comes to loading the utensil basket is making sure it’s organised. Place the forks with the forks, the spoons with the spoons — you get it. This makes unloading easier and faster for you.

Items That Should Never Go In The Dishwasher

This was a hard pill for me to swallow, but sharp cutting knives should not be placed in the machine, as it will cause them to dull. Non-stick pans — even though it might say that they are dishwasher safe, overexposing them to the hot water the machine releases, will cause them to crack and eventually breaks down the coating. Another no-no is wooden items. Your wooden cutting board or your wooden spoons could crack from overexposing them to the dishwasher, it’s best to just clean them by hand. NEVER, I repeat, never put your cast iron, fine china, anything with metal finishes in the dishwasher. They will either break, rust or become warped.

The Dishwasher Also Needs To Be Cleaned

dishwasherJust because the dishwasher cleans things doesn’t mean the machine itself doesn’t have to be cleaned. It’s important to clean the dishwasher regularly. A buildup of food gunk will occur, so in order to prevent bad odour and blockage, rinse the machine once a month.

The Dishwasher Can Clean More Than Just Dishes

Believe it or not, you can clean items that aren’t dishes in the machine. If you’ve got a dog, you can put their rubber dog toys in there, you can also put in your refrigerator shelves and bins, microwave turntables, baseball hats, silicone oven mitts, contact-lens cases and go!

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