How to Properly Load a Dishwasher

by Bob Robertson

You have a fantastic modern dishwasher, you religiously pre-wash, use the best detergents and never skip rinse aid…

So why is there still remaining food particulates and/or soapy film remaining after the cycle ends?

The ‘convenience’ of a having a dishwasher fades away when everything you put in comes out unclean, right?

So, let’s get down and dirty with dishes with a short ‘how to’ guide with proper loading and buying tips for optimal results every time you run a load.

The Universal Rules of Proper Dishwasher Loading

Before going into specifics, let’s cover the loading basics that will be applicable for all models of dishwashers.

  • Scrape off any pieces of food.
  • Never nest dishes or silverware.
  • Angle dishes when possible with the dirtiest side facing downward.
  • Ensure spray arms freely move after loading.
  • Avoid blocking the detergent dispenser.

Failure to adhere to these staple rules is likely to result in subpar results, so let’s move on to how to get superior shine—every time.

Dishwasher Loading Tips: Rack By Rack

Most individuals have built-in dishwashers at home, while others may have a free-standing or drawer dishwasher model. However, loading practices are typically universal as described below.

1. Loading the Top Rack

It’s wise to load the top rack first to get the lightweight and small items like cups, bowls, glasses and saucers out of the way. Those with a third-rack in their dishwasher can use them discriminately for culinary gadgets, large utensils, cutting knives, etc. Some third racks are specially designed ===

Use the rack's tines to secure and line up items, slightly tipping their dirty side downward. Follow suit with cups and other items, taking care to separate them to prevent chipping glassware.

Tines are often adjustable to accommodate multiple dish sizes. As a bonus—top racks can often be raised, lowered or even removed if the bottom rack is needed for large cookware.

2. Loading the Bottom Rack

The main bottom rack is where the tough work happens, so pots, pans, casserole dishes and bakeware usually find a home here. Again, keep the soiled surfaces towards the spray arm, giving items plenty of space in between for water and soap to work their magic.

This rack may feature adjustable tines to accommodate bigger dishes. The key ingredient here is to not block any spinning heads or the dispenser door, or you’ll end up restarting the cycle.

3. The Great Silverware Debate

Is silverware frequently coming out dirty?

While all designs and models offer different placement and holding receptacles, loading them is often a preference of the owner.

Handles down, handles up? Should like be with like? What gives?

Knives should go point down to avoid cutting users, and many prefer all silverware positioned this way to avoid touching the usable ends once clean. Handle up or down won’t affect cleanliness as long as silverware isn’t nested or packed too tightly.

Need More Dishwasher Loading Tips?

If you’re loading properly and getting poor results, check your hot water heater temperature—hot cleans better. Run the sink’s hot water for a few seconds to give the dishwasher a jump start from the first blast.

Still need advice or are considering looking at a replacement from the most reliable dishwasher brands? Contact the pros at Don’s Appliances, where we have all the top brands and a team of experts that can answer all of your questions about new models or help you get service for your current one.