You're Loading Your Dishwasher Wrong. Here's How to Do It the Right Way
To get the best clean, fill up your dishwasher this way.
Alina BradfordCNET Contributor
Alina Bradford has been writing how-tos, tech articles and more for almost two decades. She currently writes for CNET's Smart Home Section, MTVNews' tech section and for Live Science's reference section. Follow her on Twitter.
Managing Editor Alison DeNisco Rayome joined CNET in 2019, and is a member of the Home team. She is a co-lead of the CNET Tips and We Do the Math series, and manages the Home Tips series, testing out new hacks for cooking, cleaning and tinkering with all of the gadgets and appliances in your house. Alison was previously an editor at TechRepublic.
ExpertiseHome Tips, including cooking, cleaning and appliances hacksCredentials
National Silver Azbee Award for Impact/Investigative Journalism; National Gold Azbee Award for Online Single Topic Coverage by a Team; National Bronze Azbee Award for Web Feature Series
I think we can all admit that at some point or another we've all had an argument with a partner, family member or roommate about how to load the dishwasher. But is there really a "wrong" way to do it?
While it might seem easiest to just put everything where it fits, that's a recipe for leaving your plates, forks and spoons left with crust and grime. The way you choose to load your dishwasher really does have a major impact on how well your dishes get cleaned -- and there is indeed a correct method.
Leave most of the washing to the dishwasher. Just scrape off the big stuff from the plates first, then load them in. Don't worry about rinsing, as it can actually trick the dishwasher's sensors. Learn more about why you should skip rinsing here.
2. Plates go on the bottom rack
Load the plates on the bottom rack, but make sure they have a little space between them. Touching can block the water jets and can also cause chips in a plate's finish.
3. Bowls go on the top rack
Put bowls on the top rack. Make sure the bowls are tilted down so they don't gather water.
4. Turn your cups upside down
Same for cups. Put them on the top rack in between the tines, if possible. They should be upside down so they don't fill up with water, but tilt them slightly so that water doesn't pool in any indentations on the bottom of the cup.
5. Spoons and forks go in the utensil cup
This sounds obvious, I know, but some people ignore the fact that there's a special cup for utensils. If you're one of these people, stop it. Throwing a handful of utensils on the top rack will not get them as clean as putting them in their designated cup. Besides, putting them in the cup prevents them from dropping down and blocking the sprayer arms.
6. Keep your silverware and stainless steel utensils from touching
Always put silverware except for knives in the designated cups with the handles facing downward. Don't let real silverware and stainless-steel utensils touch, though. During washing, a chemical reaction can happen that causes pitting in the metal.
7. Put knife points down, handles up
Place knives in the silverware cup with the points inside of the cup and the handles upward.
8. Don't let spoons and spatulas fall down
Big serving spoons and spatulas are best placed on the top rack so they don't fall and block the dishwasher's spraying arms. A handy trick is to thread a tine through the hole in the handle to keep the item in place during the wash.
9. Wash large pots separately
Small pots can be placed on the bottom rack, but make sure to do larger pots in a separate load. Larger pots can block water jets, leaving the dishes on top dirty. Also, make sure that all pots are angled down so they get the full benefit of the jets.
10. Plastic containers go on the top rack, away from heat
Put plastic storage containers on the top rack so they don't get warped by the heating element.
11. Place large pans and dishes away from the dishwasher door
Make sure not to put any large pans or dishes by the door. This can block the detergent from deploying.
12. Don't forget to do a quick prewash check
Before you start the load, do a quick check of the floor below the sprayer arms. Make sure there isn't any food, spoons or other items that could block the filter or the sprayer arms. Foreign items down there can gum up the works and make your dishwasher not work properly.
Now you can start loading that dishwasher the right way, and get clean dishes every time.