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The best way to load a dishwasher

Loading a dishwasher may seem like a simple task, but do you really know the best way to load a dishwasher? Read our handy guide to find out.


By Cleanipedia Team

coloured plates stacked while loading a dishwasher

Key Steps:

  • Don’t overcrowd the dishwasher. Layering bowls on top of bowls and plates on top of plates isn’t going to give you optimum results – the water and detergent needs to get into every crevice of your dishes. Make sure items are stacked separately and that cutlery isn’t nesting together – a good way to solve this problem is to put a mix of different cutlery within each section of the cutlery basket.

Loading a dishwasher isn’t exactly the toughest of chores, however, this seemingly simple task can divide households. Where’s the best place to stack the plates? Should glasses go in the top or bottom shelf? To pre-rinse or not? Many a household spat can happen over the dishwasher.

In order to get the most out of your dishwasher, it’s good to know how to load a dishwasher correctly. Using a dishwasher will make post-dinner cleaning much easier, and could even help you save water. But the wrong strategy could be disastrous – dirt could linger on dishes, utensils could get stuck, or tupperware could be ruined. Fortunately, the proper way to load a dishwasher is simple to get your head around, and no doubt you’re probably already following many of the correct steps. But if you’re a first time dishwasher owner, or you and your other half are always quarrelling over where the plates should go, we’ve put together this guide on everything you need to know about the best way to load a dishwasher.

Even with these tips on the best way to load a dishwasher, a dirty dishwasher won’t work efficiently. Remember to clean your dishwasher regularly for consistently good results.

How to Load Your Dishwasher Effectively

Step 1: Before you load any dishes, be sure to scrape large food particles into the food waste bin – things like bones, seeds, pieces of rice, or pasta. You don’t want these getting stuck in your dishwasher.

Step 2: Pre-rinse any particularly dirty dishes. Your dishwasher should be able to rinse your dishes well enough by itself but if your dishware is particularly grimy then give it a rinse under the tap before placing in the dishwasher. It’s best to do this immediately after you’ve used the dish, before the food has chance to dry and harden. It’s also a good idea to pre-rinse if you won’t be putting the dishwashing on for a few days. Step 3: Think you know how to load dishes in a dishwasher? Double check with our ‘what goes where’ list below:

  • Place large soiled dishes like plates on the bottom rack of the dishwasher. Make sure the dirty sides of the plates are facing the centre of the dishwasher so they’ll receive a good amount of water flow.
  • Pots and pans (as long as they’re dishwasher safe) can also be loaded on the bottom rack – these should be placed at an angle to allow water to run off the bottoms.
  • Cups, glasses, and bowls should be stacked on the top rack of the dishwasher – again these should be placed at an angle to allow the water to drain.
  • Plastic items such as tupperware should also be stacked on the top rack to avoid the risk of melting or warping from the heating element in the dishwasher (usually situated at the bottom).
  • Cutlery should be loaded in the designated cutlery basket, handle down (except for knives). Try to position the cutlery as far apart as possible so the water can reach the dirty surfaces of all the items. Be careful when loading sharp knives – these should be placed point down in the cutlery basket to avoid accidents or laid down in the top rack. Alternatively, consider washing these by hand – especially if they have wooden handles.
  • Utensils like large serving spoons or spatulas should be laid down in the top rack as these can block the tubes and nozzles of the machine.
  • Chopping boards can be placed within the slots on the bottom rack of the dishwasher – however you may prefer to hand wash chopping boards, especially if they’re made from wood as the heat in the dishwasher could damage them.

Step 4: Unsure how to load dishwasher tablets or powder? Follow the instructions on the detergent’s label and simply pour the correct amount into the designated place. Your dishwasher’s manual will tell you where this is, but generally it’s found on the inside of the door.

Step 5: Close the door, select your cycle, and press start. If your dishwasher has an “eco cycle”, then use it and keep your dishwashing as environmentally friendly as possible.

And there you have it – five simple steps to efficiently load a dishwasher.

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Originally published