Improperly loading your dishwasher can easily cost you time, energy, and money. By not loading your dishwasher correctly, you can wind up with dishes that are still dirty. And, you will wind up having to run another load to remove the food that was left behind from the first washing.

You would think that loading your dishwasher would be child’s play. After all, how hard can it be? You dump the dishes and utensils and whatever else that needs to be washed into the spaces, add some soap and hit the button. Right?

No! That’s not the way to do it! Those dishwasher racks are in there in exactly a particular manner for a reason. Each of your dishwasher’s racks needs to be filled so that the tiny jets of water hit the surfaces properly.

Dishwasher manufacturers spend dozens of hours designing their machines so that they wash every inch of your plates and pans, cups and utensils until they are spotlessly clean. There are even helpful tines that instruct your fingers to place each object in the proper manner so it is cleaned the way it was intended.

If you still have the owner’s manual that came with your dishwasher, open it up and review the advice from the manufacturer’s experts. If the manual is no longer still around, these tips will help you load your dishwasher properly.

The Top Rack

The top rack inside every dishwasher is designed for holding these items:

  • Glasses
  • Cups
  • Plastic items that are dishwasher-safe
  • Small bowls
  • Fragile items like wine glasses, and
  • Long utensils what can’t fit in the silverware basket

Start off by placing cups and glasses in-between the tines. Do not place them on top of or over the tines. This will keep them from sliding around when the water jet starts spraying. Don’t let the glasses touch each other or you may have a problem with water spots, cracks or even breakage.

Place small bowls so they face the center of the dishwasher and the metal arms can spin around and clean the inside sufficiently, not just the outside

If your dishwasher doesn’t have a special area for fragile items like wine glasses, you can find silicone braces at the grocery or hardware store that are designed to hold them securely in place. If you’re not sure a glass is going to be safe from the water spray, hand-wash all fragile items to make sure. There’s no way you’ll be able to repair a broken wine glass.

The Silverware Basket

The silverware basket is where you place your eating utensils. Place knives with the blades down and handles up. Spoon and fork handles should always face down. This positioning makes sure your silverware is exposed the best possible way to the water and detergent. It also keeps the sharp edges of the blades away from your fingers when you unload the basket.

If you have a lot of the same type of utensils, mix them up with the rest of the silverware so there’s no “nesting” between the pieces. In other words, spoons or other utensils should have some space between each other and not rest together. Otherwise, the water and detergent won’t get in between them and they won’t get clean.

The Bottom Rack

On the bottom rack of your dishwasher, you should place these items:

  • Plates
  • Platters
  • Serving bowls
  • Cutting boards
  • Pots and pans that are dishwasher-safe

Take advantage of the tines and let them support your plates. Turn each one so it faces the center of the dishwasher, just like the silverware you placed on the top shelf so the area where the food rested is exposed to the spray from the water and detergent.

Small plates should be staggered in between the larger ones so that the exposed surface areas of every plate is exposed as much as possible to the water and detergent spray.

Any larger pieces, like large platters or casserole dishes, should be placed along the sides and back of the machine. Don’t put anything that is tall at the front of the rack or it will keep the water and detergent spray from getting into the rest of the compartment.

Last Things to Do

Do not under any circumstances overcrowd your dishwasher. Every single object needs its own space around it so the water and detergent can get to every exposed surface. An overcrowded dishwasher traps food and keeps things from getting clean.

Don’t stack dishes tightly, and make sure you avoid placing anything at a strange angle so the washing machine arms are not able to get water and detergent to where it’s intended.

Most times it’s not necessary to pre-rinse but if there are any large bits of food, scrape them off first and maybe give them a quick spray of water from at the sink.
Consider doing this especially if your dishes have been sitting for a day or two before using the dishwasher.

Large kitchen knives should usually be hand washed. The reason is that often the chemicals and head inside your dishwasher can be harmful to the blade or handle. Delicate materials like pewter, bronze, or iron should also be hand-washed since the finish can become tarnished in your dishwasher. Wooden items should also be hand-washed to prevent the wood from cracking or splintering and becoming a home for germs. Anything that is too delicate for the high-powered wash, like china or gold leaf, should also be hand-washed.

A Final Note

Be sure to run the hot water at your kitchen sink for a few seconds before starting the dishwasher. This will get the water that’s been cooling down in the line out of the way so your dishwasher doesn’t have to work as hard heating the water to clean your dishes. Plus, most dish detergents are optimized to work best with hot rather than cold water.

By following these simple rules, all your plates and knives, glasses and forks, should come out sparkling clean.

Let us hear from you if these tips have been useful, and be sure to check out our other house cleaning articles. We’d love to hear from you! If you have any questions, please give us a call at 708-599-7000 or email us at We appreciate your business and look forward to serving you in the future.