Does It Matter How You Load a Dishwasher? Must Know

The answer is yes, it does matter how you load a dishwasher. Loading a dishwasher properly can help you get cleaner dishes, save water and energy, and avoid damage to your appliance and utensils. In this article, we will explain the best practices for loading a dishwasher, the common mistakes to avoid, and the benefits of following these tips.

Best Practices for Loading a Dishwasher

There are some general rules that apply to most dishwashers, but you should always check your owner’s manual for any specific instructions or recommendations for your model. Here are some of the best practices for loading a dishwasher:

  • Scrape off large pieces of food from your dishes, but do not pre-rinse them. Modern dishwashers have sensors that adjust the wash cycle based on how dirty the dishes are, and pre-rinsing can interfere with this process. Also, dishwasher detergent is designed to interact with food particles, and rinsing them off can reduce its effectiveness.
  • Load dishes with their dirty sides facing the center of the dishwasher, and angle them downward for better water flow and drainage. Avoid overlapping or nesting dishes, as this can prevent water and detergent from reaching all surfaces. Place larger items on the bottom rack, and smaller items on the top rack. Make sure nothing is blocking the spray arms or the detergent dispenser.
  • Load utensils in the basket with the handles facing down, except for knives, which should be placed with the blades down for safety. Mix forks, spoons, and knives to prevent them from sticking together. If your dishwasher has a third rack for utensils, use it for long or bulky items, such as spatulas, ladles, or whisks.
  • Load glassware, plastic, and small bowls on the top rack, away from the heating element. Use the stemware holders or shelves if your dishwasher has them, and place glasses and cups upside down and at an angle. Do not load anything that is not dishwasher-safe, such as wood, brass, bronze, gold, silver, pewter, or cast iron.
  • Load pots, pans, and large bowls on the bottom rack, on their sides, and facing downward. Do not place them flat or face up, as this can block the water spray and cause pooling. If your dishwasher has foldable tines, use them to create more space for large items. Do not overload your dishwasher, as this can reduce its performance and cause damage.
See also  When should you throw food out of the freezer?

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Loading a Dishwasher

Loading a dishwasher may seem like a simple task, but there are some common mistakes that many people make that can affect the quality of the wash and the lifespan of the appliance. Here are some of the common mistakes to avoid when loading a dishwasher:

  • Loading dishes that are too dirty or too clean. If your dishes have large chunks of food or dried-on residue, they may not get clean enough in the dishwasher, and the food particles can clog the filter or the drain. On the other hand, if your dishes are too clean, the detergent may be too harsh and cause etching or scratching on your dishes. The ideal level of dirtiness is somewhere in between, where the dishes have some food particles but not too much.
  • Loading dishes that are too big or too small. If your dishes are too big for your dishwasher, they may not fit properly or block the water spray. If your dishes are too small, they may fall through the gaps or get tossed around during the wash. The best way to avoid this problem is to measure your dishes and compare them with the dimensions of your dishwasher racks. You can also use the adjustable features of your dishwasher, such as the rack height, the foldable tines, or the movable basket, to accommodate different sizes of dishes.
  • Loading dishes in the wrong rack or the wrong direction. Some dishes are better suited for the top rack, while others are better for the bottom rack. For example, glassware, plastic, and small bowls should go on the top rack, while plates, pots, and pans should go on the bottom rack. Also, dishes should be loaded facing the center of the dishwasher, and angled downward, to ensure optimal water and detergent coverage. Loading dishes in the wrong rack or the wrong direction can result in poor cleaning, water spots, or damage.
  • Loading dishes that are not dishwasher-safe. Some materials or items are not meant to be washed in the dishwasher, either because they can be damaged by the heat, the water, or the detergent, or because they can damage the dishwasher or other dishes. Some examples of items that are not dishwasher-safe are wood, brass, bronze, gold, silver, pewter, cast iron, crystal, china, hand-painted ceramics, and sharp knives. Always check the labels or the manufacturer’s instructions before loading anything in the dishwasher.
  • Loading dishes without sorting or separating them. Loading dishes randomly or without any order can lead to poor cleaning, as some dishes may block or interfere with others. It is important to sort and separate dishes by type, size, and material, and to use the appropriate racks, baskets, holders, or shelves for each item. This can help improve the water and detergent distribution, the drying performance, and the safety of the dishes.
See also  Can You Use Cast Iron on Induction? What to Expect

Benefits of Loading a Dishwasher Properly

Loading a dishwasher properly may seem like a hassle, but it can have many benefits for you, your dishes, and your appliance. Here are some of the benefits of loading a dishwasher properly:

  • Cleaner dishes. Loading a dishwasher properly can ensure that your dishes get the best possible cleaning, as they are exposed to the right amount of water, detergent, and heat. You can avoid having to rewash dishes or deal with stains, spots, or residue.
  • Water and energy savings. Loading a dishwasher properly can help you save water and energy, as you can run fewer cycles and use less detergent. You can also take advantage of the energy-efficient features of your dishwasher, such as the soil sensor, the eco mode, or the no-heat drying option.
  • Longer appliance lifespan. Loading a dishwasher properly can help you extend the lifespan of your appliance, as you can prevent clogs, leaks, or damage. You can also maintain your dishwasher better by cleaning the filter, the spray arms, and the door seals regularly.
  • Safer dishes and utensils. Loading a dishwasher properly can help you protect your dishes and utensils from damage, such as chipping, cracking, warping, or rusting. You can also avoid injuries from sharp or broken items, or from hot or wet surfaces.


Loading a dishwasher properly is not a trivial matter, as it can affect the quality of your wash, the efficiency of your appliance, and the safety of your dishes. By following the best practices for loading a dishwasher, avoiding the common mistakes, and understanding the benefits, you can make the most of your dishwasher and enjoy cleaner dishes with less hassle.