The right way to load a dishwasher (yes, we’ve settled it!)

Last week, we asked our friends and followers in social media if they’ve ever discussed or argued with someone about the proper way to load dishes and cutlery into a dishwasher. About 99% of respondents say they have; the majority say they’re annoyed by their spouses and in-laws’ improper way of using their dishwasher.

Thanks for sharing your stories!

“My husband is pretty much banned from loading the dishwasher by himself because he always, without fail, will either load it so that the spinning part cannot spin, or he puts a bunch of cups in so they just collect the water instead of getting clean, or both,” wrote one frustrated dishwasher owner. “Then, I have to redo the whole thing and re-run it.”

There actually is a right way to load a dishwasher. The next time your spouse or in-laws instruct about the proper way to load a dishwasher, you can politely set them straight with the facts – courtesy of our appliance experts:

“Do I need to pre-rinse my dishes before putting them into my dishwasher?”
Answer: Nope! You should definitely scrape excess food into your garbage disposal/disposer but skip the pre-rinsing and save the water. Dishwashers are designed for food particle removal. No rinsing is needed unless your dishes and cookware have been left sitting out for several hours. In that case, you may need to soak them in soapy water to loosen particles before loading into the dishwasher.

What goes in, what doesn’t
Look for a dishwasher-safe imprint before you place items into your dishwasher. Pay particular attention to plastic food storage containers, which have been known to melt if they are too close to the heating element in the bottom of the dishwasher. If you’re not sure, wash them by hand. If a piece of plastic melts to the heating element it can be tough to clean it off.

Don’t overload. Cramming two loads into one load will restrict the water spray patterns, which will prevent proper cleaning and require you to have to rewash, wasting water. Dishes and cookware should have exposed surfaces facing the spray arms.

Knives and other cutlery with wooden handles are best washed by hand because over time, detergent can cause wood to become brittle and crack.

What goes where
The biggest myth associated with dishwasher loading? How stuff gets loaded into the cutlery basket!

Manufacturers advise that cutlery be loaded with the “business” end facing up, a.k.a. the end that touches food. The reason? Better water circulation. Facing the business-end down in the basket restricts water flow. However, sharp knives and utensils should always face down to help prevent injury when unloading the dishwasher. Care should be taken, of course, when removing these utensils from the basket.

Dishes and cookware should have exposed surfaces facing the spray arms. Knives and other cutlery with wooden handles are best washed by hand because over time, detergent can cause wood to become brittle and crack.

Lower rack

  1. Plates, leaning toward the center near the spray arm. Make sure the surface is exposed!
  2. Pots upside down.
  3. Cutting boards should be placed on the outer-most part of the rack.

Upper rack

  • Plastic, glassware, mugs and cups. Make sure to leave space between them so that there’s no fear of breakage.
  • Long utensils and knives may block the spray arm in the lower rack so it’s best to rest them flat in the upper rack

RepairClinic has dishwasher accessories and parts including and recommended replacement parts. Have your model number handy and head here.

Keep it fresh

  • Tip your dishwasher’s door down and spray cleaner or degreaser spray along the edge and lip area.
  • Let this sit for a moment and then run a hot, wet rag over it to remove the mold.
  • Clean the spray arm: Food particles can collect in the spray arm’s water holes. Use a pipe cleaner or paper clip to loosen particles or other debris from the holes.
  • Clean or replace the filter: If your dishwasher has a filter in the center of the tub, remove it and brush away food. A filter with tears should be replaced.
  • A drop-in dishwasher cleaner like this one can also deodorize.

Stop rusting
Use touch-up paint to prevent damaging rusting when the rack tines’ plastic coating wears out. Tine tips like this can prevent further rusting.

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