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Do your kids stack the dishwasher? Here’s how to keep them safe.

Stacking the dishwasher is a common chore for children, but there are risks. So how do you keep your kids (and crockery) safe?


By Cleanipedia Team

Kids loading dishwasher 9
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It’s good to get kids involved with age-appropriate chores. It teaches them responsibility and the importance of working together as a family. (And it lightens your load a little.)

But there are risks involved with many household chores, including stacking the dishwasher. So it’s important to make sure your child understands basic safety skills.

Start at the right age

Children can usually start helping to load the dishwasher from around the age of eight or nine, although it does depend on the child. Start with the easier, safer items, like plates and pans. You might want to tell younger children to leave any sharp items or cherished breakables for the adults to handle. Supervise children for the first few times that they load and unload the dishwasher, and stay close by for under 12s.

It’s best to keep dishwasher tablets away from children, so leave that bit to the adults.

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Teach them about safety

To keep your children safe, you’ll want to teach them:

  • How to carry knives and other sharp implements safely (when they’re ready to)

  • Not to stack knives with the sharp end pointing up

  • To leave hot water to cool before emptying pans

  • Not to open the dishwasher mid-cycle

  • To wash their hands after handling anything that’s touched raw meat

  • Not to leave dishwasher tablets or capsules where younger children or pets can reach them

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You’ll also want to arm your kids with an understanding of basic kitchen safety. For instance, you’ll want to teach them how to avoid getting the floor wet and what to do if oil gets spilt. And make sure they know never to run in the kitchen.

Use a gentler dishwasher capsule

Many parents choose to use fewer chemicals around the home once they have kids. You might have already switched to a more natural kitchen spray that doesn’t make your kids cough, or a laundry detergent that’s kinder to delicate skin. Now might be the time to swap to a gentler dishwasher capsule. However, it should always be kept well away from young children.

If your older teen does handle dishwasher tablets or capsules, make sure they know not to touch the capsules with wet hands, to reseal the pack after use and to store the capsules out of reach of younger siblings.

Arm them with some handy skills

Stacking the dishwasher is a bit of an art form. You’ll need to show kids how to:

  • Scrape plates into the food bin before loading them into the dishwasher

  • Place more delicate items on the top rack, along with cups

  • Stack items that need a deeper clean, like pans, on the bottom rack

  • Face cups and bowls downwards so they don’t collect water

  • Check that nothing will be hit by the rotating arm

  • Use the right setting

How to avoid breakages

Everyone breaks something occasionally, even adults. A wet mug slips out of your hand; a finely balanced bowl topples over; wine glasses smash together when you’re carrying them. And don’t even get us started on the damage a bored cat can do.

So try not to be too hard on the kids if something gets broken. That said, you’ll want to reduce the risk as much as possible. Here’s how:

  • Show your children how to handle fragile items

  • Make sure they know not to rush the job 

  • Don’t let them carry too many items at once

  • Show them how to stack things correctly

  • Teach them what can, and can’t, go in the dishwasher

While you shouldn’t shout about an accident, don’t tell your child not to worry because the mug only cost a couple of pounds. If they don’t care whether they break something, they’re going to cut corners.

Now that your child is a dishwasher whizz, why not introduce them to other age-appropriate chores?

Frequently asked questions

How old do kids have to be to stack a dishwasher?

Generally speaking, children can start loading the dishwasher when they’re around eight years old. (It does depend on the child though.) Younger children can still help out. For example, a four-year-old can place plastic cups and plates in the dishwasher after dinner, and put clean tupperware away in the cupboard. Just keep dishwasher capsules, knives and other sharp implements well out of their reach. You can also start teaching some basic safety skills early on, by explaining what you’re doing. “I’ve spilt some water on the floor. That makes the floor slippy. I’m going to mop it up straight away so no one falls over.”

Is it safe for kids to use a dishwasher?

Yes, as long as they’re old enough and you teach them essential safety rules (see above). Younger children should never be given access to dishwasher or laundry capsules though, as these are extremely dangerous if swallowed. Whatever age your child is, you’ll want to supervise them the first few times they stack the dishwasher (if only to make sure they’re not swinging your favourite mug around their head).

How do I know what chores are age-appropriate?

A lot depends on your child. Generally speaking, younger children can help to tidy away toys, make their bed and lay the table. Over fives can also help with polishing furniture and putting away lighter groceries. For over eights, you can start adding slightly more difficult chores, like wiping down surfaces, sweeping and mopping. By the time your child is 12, they should be able to help out with most household tasks (within reason).

How can I get my kids to do more chores?

Routine is everything. If your children know they need to stack the dishwasher every evening (and no amount of complaining will get them out of it), they’re more likely to do it. Likewise, if they know they have to run the vacuum cleaner around on a Saturday before they get screen time, it’s more likely to get done. You might also want to link pocket money or other treats to chores. For example, they could earn their weekly sweets by loading the dishwasher each day. And a chore chart can be a great way to keep kids on track.

Originally published