How Do I Properly Load a Dishwasher?
Let’s get one thing out of the way first: we know we aren’t
going to solve any household arguments with this article. People are set in
their ways and one article won’t change that. Sorry.
But for those of you who are genuinely curious as to how to properly load a dishwasher—i.e. how to load it to ensure dishes end up well-cleaned—the experts at Nebraska Home Appliance are here to help.
The #1 Thing to Remember
Take your time. The dishwasher is already saving you so
much time, surely you can give it a few minutes of your time to load it with
thought and care?
The reason most dishwashers fill up quickly is that dishes are
tossed in haphazardly. Not only are you failing to maximize space in the
dishwasher, haphazard placement ensures at least some dishes are going to come
out still soiled. So, take your time: pull the rack out fully, look at where
other dishes are currently placed, and place accordingly.
- Need we say the obvious? Bottoms-up. And
avoid laying cups on top of other cups—cups can be jarred loose and pool up
with water, or they can bump other cups and chip.
- Always place cups on the top rack. The
top rack is specifically designed to angle cups towards the jets of water from
the sprayer arm.
- Always put plates on the bottom rack,
even if the plate is small. For starters, the bottom-rack tines are designed to
position plates in such a way that they are hit just right by the sprayer arm. What’s
more, plates are flat. It sounds like a stupid observation but remember
that the insides of cups are cleaned by water from the bottom sprayer arm, and
flat plates do not obstruct that water flow. And because the dishwasher drains
from the bottom, plates also don’t obstruct the flow of water, carrying
detergent and food debris, back down. So, fill the bottom rack with all the
plates you have.
- Follow the tines. They will be arranged
in such a way that the dirty side of the plate faces the center of the
dishwasher. There’s no need to further angle or put gaps between plates, the
goal is neat rows of plates that make use of every slot. Grouping plates by
size helps, for both loading and unloading.
Bowls and Other Rounded Dishes
Bowls are the real challenge, as there are few hard-and-fast
rules for them. It is usually recommended that you place small bowls in the
tines on the top rack, and larger bowls around the sides of the bottom rack.
Some bowls are relatively shallow though, and even if small can be stacked in
the bottom rack along with the plates. Use your discretion.
As with plates, make use of every slot, there is no need to
further angle or leave gaps between bowls. And as always place the dirty side
of the dish facing towards the center of the dishwasher and angled down in such
a way that water will not collect in it. The rows of tines will be designed
with this in mind.
- Avoid putting on the bottom rack. The
heating element is at the bottom of the dishwasher, and placing plastics on the
bottom rack, right above the heating element, can cause them to warp.
- Always lay plastic containers flat on the
rack, concave side down. If you stack them on top of cups or lay them
sideways, the water coursing through the dishwasher can right them, leaving you
with a disgusting pool of water to dispose of.
- Handles down, folks. Do you really think
that tangled thicket of tines and blades wedged together into the bottom of the
basket is the best way to clean silverware? Placing forks, spoons, and butter
knives handle-down in the basket ensures there is room for water to flow around
every part of your silverware. If you’re worried about poking your hand on a
fork, slow down.
- Sharp knives are the one exception where
you should place the handles up. That said, it is recommended you hand-wash
sharp knives as it can better preserve the blade edge.
- Mix the silverware up. Although it is
tempting to sort the silverware by type as you place it in, that’s a sure way
to end up with nested spoons that don’t get clean.
Packing in as many dishes as possible runs two risks:
- Disrupting the flow of water and detergent
through the dishwasher tub, which prevents some dishes from getting clean
- Breaking or chipping dishes (remember,
dishes are being sprayed with jets of water, and water can push things around)
If you can’t find room for certain items, relax, the sink
still works for washing dishes. In fact, many items should never go in a
- Anything made with wood, too much soaking
in hot water causes wood to warp and crack
bronze, copper, pewter, which is easily discolored in dishwashers
- Large kitchen knives, and sharp knives in
general, as they can be damaged by the heat and chemicals
- Pots and pans without dishwasher-safe
indication on bottom
- Insulated mugs without a dishwasher-safe
indication, as their vacuum-seal can be damaged, reducing their
cookware, removes the seasoning that makes cast-iron work
pans, similar to cast-iron, though the manufacturer may say they’re
dishwasher-safe, better safe than sorry
Need More Help?
Find your user manual, whether in a drawer in your home or
online. Many manufacturers include diagrams and instructions for loading their
dishwashers. Not every dishwasher is set up exactly the same, so it’s best to
let the manufacturer be the final judge of whether a bowl can go in the bottom