January 17, 2019 | Dishwashers

How to Load the Dishwasher Properly

If you find your dishes aren’t clean after running them in the dishwasher, you may need to consider how you’re loading your dishwasher.

In this article, you will discover how to load the dishwasher properly.

how to load the dishwasher

How to Load the Dishwasher Properly

Dishwashers play an important role in the kitchen.

But the truth is, few people ever get a lesson on how to use one properly. In fact, there are some people who have never used a dishwasher at all.

Whether it is due to misconceptions, such as “it will end up costing more in the long run due to energy or water usage,” or convenience“ it just seems faster to wash dishes by hand” – the dishwasher has not always been the most popular kitchen appliances.

However, that is all changing. People are learning about conserving our planet’s resources and the easy spreading of germs. In a sense, the dishwasher is becoming quite the hero.

To reap all the benefits a dishwasher has to offer, it is important to learn how they function and how to properly load one.

The Benefits of a Dishwasher

There are more benefits than you may imagine when it comes to using your dishwasher.

Consider these:

  • Save water. A dishwasher uses less water than most handwashing. This is a great benefit to the environment as conservation is necessary now more than ever.
  • More sanitary. A dishwasher can reach higher temperatures with water and steam that you can’t get with handwashing.
  • Save money. Using less water means a decrease in your water bill.
  • Keep your counters clear and free of dish-drying clutter.
  • Break fewer dishes in a dishwasher than when you wash them by hand.
  • Keep your hands soft and smooth – and free from dish-soap dry out.

Of course, consider the energy and frustration you will save from not having to hover over your sink every night after dinner handwashing all the dishes. Instead, you could be using this time to do something fun or relaxing.

A dishwasher is beginning to sound wonderful, isn’t it?

Related: What to Look for When Buying a Dishwasher

What You Should do Before You Load Your Dishwasher

We like to think of a dishwasher as a magical appliance that takes our messy, food-splattered dishes and turns them into bright, clean, shiny and fresh dishes. Sure, it can do that – but it does need a little help from you first.

Before you load your dishwasher, take the time to scrape any remaining food off your dishes. The more food you leave on, the harder it has to work. Leaving a few food particles behind, however, is okay.

Don’t waste your time – or your energy, money, or water – rinsing dishes first. As stated above, simply scrape off the food and load your dishwasher. Many dishwashing detergents work better when they have food particles to cling to. It is all part of the design.

Depending on your preference, you may want to run the faucet water to get it hot before starting the dishwasher. This ensures that it starts its first cycle with hot water rather than cold.

Top or Bottom: What Goes Where

Believe it or not, it matters what you put where in your dishwasher. Of course, it is not an absolute must, but if you are looking to get the most from your kitchen appliance, then you will want to make sure your dishes are placed in their ultimate spot. The key is to never overload your dishwasher.

In a general sense, here is where you should be placing your dishes:

Top rack:

The top rack is where you should put cups, glasses, coffee mugs, and small bowls.

Bottom rack:

The bottom rack holds bigger items, such as plates, bowls, serving dishes, pots, and pans.

Loading the Top Rack

The top rack is usually smaller than the bottom rack. This is where you will fit smaller items, such as cups and glasses. It is also where you should put your delicate items, such as plastics. Depending on your settings, the heat from your dishwasher has the ability to melt some plastic items. Putting them on the top shelf is the safest place.

Place cups, glasses, and mugs open side down. This will keep water from sitting inside the cup and instead, let it flow through and back out. Keep your items organized, and don’t stuff them together. First, too many items too close to one another increases the chance for breakage. Second, you want the water and detergent to flow through and reach all your dishes. There needs to be enough space for this to happen.

Loading the Bottom Rack

Your bottom rack will likely come with more space for loading. This is where you will place bigger items. Plates, bowls, and serving dishes should be stacked in neatly. Any large items, such as pots and pans, serving platters, or even baking sheets should be loaded closer to the outer rim of the rack (on the sides or along the back). This will allow the water to flow freely without being blocked or re-directed due to a large item.

Remember, the spray arm needs to be able to rise up and spray water that is going to reach the entire capacity of the dishwasher.

The Right Way to Add Your Utensils

Did you know that there is a right way to load your utensils, too? Many people think that it is logical to place all alike utensils together. For instance, all the forks go in one area, all the spoons in another, etc. But this may not allow you to get the best clean. Utensils are meant to stack up for easy storage (think of your spoons “spooning”). When placed in the dishwasher together, they may tend to stack, preventing the dishwasher from being able to do its job.

Also, load utensils with the handles down. Sometimes, miscellaneous food items tend to find their way into the “silverware” basket. Don’t let your clean utensils sit there with the tips resting in random food particles that didn’t drain all the way.


There it is – the best way to load your dishwasher. After you start using it on a regular basis, you will wonder why you ever wasted all that time washing dishes by hand. You can rest easy knowing that your new appliance is helping you save time, conserve water, and sanitize your dishes.

That is the power of a dishwasher.