Can You Load a Dishwasher Incorrectly? Must Know

Yes, you can load a dishwasher incorrectly and end up with dirty dishes, damaged utensils, or even a broken appliance. To avoid these problems, you need to follow some basic rules and tips on how to load a dishwasher properly. In this article, we will explain the dos and don’ts of loading a dishwasher, the best way to arrange different types of dishes and utensils, and some common mistakes to avoid.

Why Does It Matter How You Load a Dishwasher?

You might think that loading a dishwasher is a simple task that does not require much thought or skill. After all, the dishwasher is supposed to do all the work for you, right? Well, not exactly. The way you load a dishwasher can affect its performance, efficiency, and lifespan. Here are some reasons why you should pay attention to how you load a dishwasher:

  • To get clean dishes. The main purpose of a dishwasher is to clean your dishes, but if you load them incorrectly, they might not get enough water, detergent, or heat to remove all the dirt and grease. For example, if you stack dishes too closely together, or block the spray arms with large items, you might end up with food particles or stains on your dishes. If you place dishes facing away from the water source, or put them in the wrong rack, they might not get rinsed or dried properly. If you overload the dishwasher, or use the wrong cycle or settings, you might not get the optimal cleaning results.
  • To protect your dishes and utensils. Some dishes and utensils are not dishwasher-safe, or need to be placed in a specific way to prevent damage. For example, if you put sharp knives or silverware in the cutlery basket, they might scratch or dull each other, or poke holes in the basket. If you put delicate glassware or china in the bottom rack, they might crack or chip from the high temperature or pressure. If you put wooden, plastic, or non-stick items in the dishwasher, they might warp, melt, or lose their coating. If you put metal items that are prone to rusting or tarnishing in the dishwasher, they might corrode or discolor.
  • To extend the life of your dishwasher. Loading a dishwasher incorrectly can also cause problems for the appliance itself. For example, if you put too much detergent, or the wrong type of detergent, you might clog the dispenser, or create too much foam or residue. If you put items that are too large or heavy for the dishwasher, you might damage the racks, the door, or the spray arms. If you put items that are too dirty or greasy for the dishwasher, you might clog the filter, the drain, or the pump. If you neglect to clean and maintain your dishwasher regularly, you might reduce its efficiency and performance.
See also  How to Defrost a Refrigerator? Explained with Example

How to Load a Dishwasher Properly

Now that you know why it matters how you load a dishwasher, let’s see how you can do it properly. Here are some general rules and tips to follow:

  • Scrape off the food. Before you load your dishes, you should scrape off any large or hard food particles, such as bones, seeds, or shells. This will prevent them from clogging the filter or the spray arms, and improve the cleaning results. However, you don’t need to rinse your dishes before loading them, unless they are very dirty or have dried-on food. Rinsing your dishes wastes water and energy, and can actually make them harder to clean, as the detergent needs some grease and dirt to work effectively.
  • Load the bottom rack first. The bottom rack is where you should place the larger and dirtier items, such as plates, bowls, pots, pans, and casserole dishes. You should arrange them facing the center, and leave some space between them to allow the water and detergent to reach all the surfaces. You should also avoid blocking the spray arms with any large or tall items, as this will reduce the water pressure and coverage. If you have any items that are very greasy or baked-on, you should place them closer to the water source, or use a pre-wash or soak cycle to loosen the dirt.
  • Load the top rack next. The top rack is where you should place the smaller and more delicate items, such as cups, glasses, mugs, and plastic containers. You should arrange them upside down, and angle them slightly to prevent water from pooling on them. You should also avoid overloading the top rack, or placing items that are too big or heavy for it, as this will prevent the rack from sliding in and out smoothly, or interfere with the spray arm below. If you have any items that are very fragile or valuable, such as crystal, china, or silver, you should hand-wash them instead of putting them in the dishwasher, or use a gentle or delicate cycle to protect them.
  • Load the cutlery basket last. The cutlery basket is where you should place your forks, spoons, knives, and other utensils. You should mix them up, and place them handle down, to prevent them from nesting or sticking together, and to expose the dirty parts to the water and detergent. However, you should place sharp knives and long utensils handle up, to prevent them from scratching or poking other items, or injuring yourself when unloading them. You should also avoid placing any items that are too small or thin for the basket, such as toothpicks, straws, or chopsticks, as they might fall through the holes and damage the dishwasher.
See also  Should You Turn Off Fridge When Cleaning? Must Know

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Loading a Dishwasher

Even if you follow the basic rules and tips on how to load a dishwasher properly, you might still make some common mistakes that can affect the cleaning results or damage your dishes or appliance. Here are some of them, and how to avoid them:

  • Using too much or too little detergent. The amount of detergent you need depends on the hardness of your water, the size and type of your load, and the cycle and settings you choose. If you use too much detergent, you might create too much foam or residue, which can clog the dispenser, or leave spots or film on your dishes. If you use too little detergent, you might not get enough cleaning power, which can leave dirt or grease on your dishes. To avoid this, you should follow the instructions on the detergent package, or use the dispenser or indicator on your dishwasher, and adjust the amount according to your needs.
  • Using the wrong type of detergent. There are different types of detergent available for dishwashers, such as powder, liquid, gel, tablet, or pod. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, and some might work better than others for your dishwasher model, water hardness, or load type. For example, powder detergent is cheaper and more versatile, but it can clump or leave residue if the dispenser is damp or the water is too cold. Liquid or gel detergent is easier to use and dissolves faster, but it can create too much foam or fade the colors of your dishes. Tablet or pod detergent is convenient and pre-measured, but it can be more expensive and less effective if the water is too hard or the cycle is too short. To avoid this, you should check the manual of your dishwasher, or the label of the detergent, and choose the type that suits your needs best.
  • Using the wrong cycle or settings. Most dishwashers have different cycles and settings that you can choose from, depending on the type and amount of dishes you have, and how dirty they are. For example, you can choose a normal, heavy, or light cycle, a high-temperature, sanitize, or rinse-aid option, a delay-start, half-load, or eco mode, and so on. Each cycle or setting has its own time, temperature, and water consumption, and some might work better than others for your load. For example, if you have a full load of very dirty dishes, you might want to choose a heavy cycle with a high-temperature option, to get the best cleaning results. If you have a small load of lightly soiled dishes, you might want to choose a light cycle with a half-load or eco mode, to save water and energy. To avoid this, you should read the manual of your dishwasher, or the display or buttons on your appliance, and choose the cycle or setting that matches your load best.
  • Not cleaning or maintaining your dishwasher. Even if you load your dishwasher properly, you still need to clean and maintain it regularly, to keep it in good condition and extend its life. For example, you should check and clean the filter, the spray arms, and the dispenser, to remove any food particles, grease, or detergent residue that might clog or damage them. You should also run a cleaning cycle with vinegar, baking soda, or a commercial cleaner, to remove any limescale, mold, or odor that might build up in your dishwasher. You should also inspect and replace any worn or broken parts, such as the racks, the door seal, or the drain hose, to prevent any leaks or malfunctions. To avoid this, you should follow the instructions on the manual of your dishwasher, or the label of the cleaner, and clean and maintain your dishwasher at least once a month, or more often if needed.
See also  Is a 10 or 12-inch Miter Saw Better?


Loading a dishwasher correctly is not as easy as it seems, but it is not rocket science either. By following some basic rules and tips, and avoiding some common mistakes, you can get the most out of your dishwasher, and enjoy clean, shiny, and undamaged dishes every time. You can also save water, energy, and money, and prolong the life of your appliance.