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How to Load Your Dishwasher – The Right Way

You Might Be Loading Your Dishwasher Wrong!?

Updated: Thursday 22 Feb 2024

Person loading a dishwasher with large items on the bottom rack, delicates at the top with all dirty surfaces facing the centre

Properly loading your dishwasher is essential to ensure sparkling clean dishes and efficient water and energy usage.

Many people underestimate the importance of loading their dishwasher correctly, leading to subpar cleaning results and potential damage to kitchenware. 

A Step-by-Step Guide for Flawless Cleaning Results

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of loading your dishwasher the right way, ensuring optimal cleaning and prolonging the lifespan of your dishwasher.

Step 1: Scrape Off Excess Food

Before loading your dishes into the dishwasher, take a moment to scrape off excess food residue (anything that could be described as 3D). 

While dishwashers are designed to handle some food particles, removing large pieces will prevent clogging the filter and drain, allowing the dishwasher to function efficiently.

Step 2: Load Large Items First

Start by loading large items such as plates, cutting boards, and baking sheets along the sides and back of the bottom rack. Place larger items facing the centre of the dishwasher to ensure they don’t block the water spray from reaching other dishes.

Step 3: Load Pots, Pans, and Bowls

Next, place pots, pans, and bowls in the bottom rack. Angle them slightly to allow water to flow freely and reach all surfaces. Avoid nesting or stacking items too tightly, as this can hinder water circulation and prevent thorough cleaning.

Step 4: Arrange Utensils Properly

When loading utensils in the utensil basket, separate them to prevent nesting and ensure thorough cleaning. Place forks and spoons with their handles facing up to avoid collecting water and detergent, which can lead to spotting or residue. 

Place knives with their blades facing down to prevent accidents when unloading.

Step 5: Load Glasses and Cups Securely

For glasses and cups, load them between the tines on the top rack. Ensure they are secure and not touching each other to prevent chipping or cracking during the wash cycle. Position glasses and cups at a slight angle to allow water to drain easily.

Step 6: Load Delicate Items on the Top Rack

For delicate items such as fine china & crystal – place them on the top rack. Use the top rack for items that are not dishwasher-safe on the bottom rack to avoid damage. And do make sure you use the right programme for delicates. 

Step 7: Use the Cutlery Grid Properly

Some dishwashers come with a cutlery grid or a third rack on the top for utensils. If your dishwasher has this feature, use it for longer utensils or larger kitchen tools that may not fit in the utensil basket. 

Arrange them so that water can reach all surfaces for thorough cleaning.

Step 8: Avoid Overcrowding

One of the most common mistakes is overcrowding the dishwasher. It’s essential to leave enough space between items for water and detergent to circulate effectively. 

Overcrowding can lead to dishes blocking the water spray, resulting in unsatisfactory cleaning results.

Step 9: Face Soiled Surfaces Towards the Spray Arms

For optimal cleaning, make sure the soiled surfaces of dishes, glasses, and utensils face toward the centre of the dishwasher, where the spray arms are located. This allows water to reach the areas that need cleaning the most.

Step 10: Use the Right Detergent, Rinse Aid & Salt

Using the right dishwasher detergent, rinse aid & salt is crucial for getting the best cleaning results. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommended dosage to avoid overusing detergent and causing excessive suds.

Step 11: Choose the Right Cycle

Selecting the appropriate dishwasher cycle is equally important. Most modern dishwashers offer various wash cycles for different types of loads. Use eco or energy-saving cycles for everyday loads with moderately soiled dishes, and reserve intensive cycles for heavily soiled items or occasional deep cleaning.

Step 12: Regularly Clean and Maintain the Dishwasher

Even with proper loading, it’s essential to maintain your dishwasher regularly. Clean the filter, inspect the spray arms, and check for any leaks or loose connections. Regular maintenance will prolong your dishwasher’s lifespan and ensure continued efficiency.

The Verdict

Loading your dishwasher correctly is not only crucial for getting clean and spotless dishes but also for prolonging the life of your dishwasher. By following these step-by-step guidelines, you can optimise water and energy usage, prevent damage to kitchenware, and enjoy the convenience of a reliable dishwasher in your kitchen. 

Proper loading, combined with regular maintenance, will ensure that your dishwasher performs at its best, making dishwashing a hassle-free and efficient part of your daily routine. 

Load your dishwasher the right way, and you’ll be rewarded with gleaming dishes and a well-functioning dishwasher for years to come.


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