How To Load a Dishwasher the Right Way?

Have been experiencing unclean performance by a dishwasher, then one of the main reasons can be improper loading of utensils.

We all have our own ways to load the dishwasher. But the real question is that “Is it the right way you are doing?” There are some common mistakes that we often tend to make when loading a dishwasher.

In this article, we will explain the correct method of doing it. If you are doing it the right way, here are some ways to improve your dish stacking skills. Follow them, and you will have sparkling clean, and undamaged utensils from your dishwasher.

We also enlisted certain dos and don’ts when loading. Make sure you read the article to the end.

How to Load A Dishwasher Effectively?

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to load a dishwasher correctly. Watch out for these necessary points to make the most of your dishwasher.

Step 1: Load The Top Rack or Shelf Of Your Dishwasher

As the initial step, load the top rack of your dishwasher with items first. Pay special attention to what goes on this rack. These are the items you should include in this holder – mugs & cups, small bowls, plastic items, large utensils, wine and drinking glasses, etc.

Let us learn how to position each item in the top rack of the machine.

Item 1: Mugs & Cups

It is a thumb rule to place items like cups, mugs, wine glasses, and water bottles upside down. Make sure you put them along the sides of the top rack from front to back.

Some devices come with a fold-down stemware shelf containing stemware holders. These holders are exclusively for securing delicate items like wine or champagne glasses. Use these holders to fix the stems of glasses to ensure these do not break during washing.

Does the top rack of your dishwasher contain rotating spray nozzles? You can make use of them, as well, to place glasses or water bottles upside down. It ensures thorough cleaning of these items.

Item 2: Small Bowls

After you placed the cups and mugs, come to the small bowls and small plates. The upper rack has tines for positing these items between them. Stack them in such a way that they face upside down and do not take much room. Make sure they are towards the center and get proper water from below.

Item 3: Plastic Items

Let us come to the plastic bowls and containers. Even these go in the top rack, similar to the regular bowls. However, before loading the plastic items, make sure they are dishwasher safe. Position them just like the small bowls facing downward.

Please note that you should always place the plastic items on the top to prevent them from melting. Most dishwashers have the heating element in the bottom part. Putting the plastic dishes in the lower rack can damage these items. 

Also, ensure that these plastic items are big enough that they do not fit through the gaps of the rack. Else, they may get stuck in between the gaps or fall through them, and land on the heating element.

Item 4: Long Utensils

Coming to the cutlery, load them in the cutlery basket by distributing them. Position the soiled surfaces of the spatulas, spoons, separately so that the water reaches them.

Make sure you place these items only in the cutlery basket of the top rack. See to it that you do not put them elsewhere on the shelf, as they may slip down through the gaps.

Step 2: Load The Bottom Rack Of Your Dishwasher

Let us now proceed with the next step, and that is, loading the lower rack of the dishwasher. This frame or folder should contain those items that are bigger in size. It includes serving platters, large bowls, plates, pots and pans made of stainless-steel material, and other silverware utensils. Here is a pro tip. Always put the biggest pieces to the sides and back of the rack. This prevents them from blocking the sprayer.

Let us learn how to position each item in the bottom rack of the machine.

Item 1: Plates

The first and most important item that should go into the bottom rack is the plates. Lunch plates or dinner plates, place them between the tines. Ensure that you position the dirty side downwards, i.e., towards the washer jets.

The primary thing to note here is that you should not stack the plates one over the other as you do in the cabinets or shelves. Instead, place them between the tines. Stacking them may create nesting, which further prevents them from getting cleaned properly. To avoid it, you can position large and small plates alternatively.

Item 2: Large Bowls

The next item that should go into the bottom rack of the dishwasher is large bowls. Remember, you need to position them between the tines or in the back or front of the shelf. Stack them in such a way that they face upside down and do not take much room. Make sure they are towards the centre and get proper water from below.

Item 3: Pots & Pans

Let us now add other items like stainless-steel pots, pans, and other baking dishes in the rack. You can place them hassle-free along the sides of the rack or at the back of the shelf. Position them just like the large bowls facing downward to ensure efficient cleaning.

It is advisable not to overload the dishwasher. You may run the machine a second time, if necessary. You can also wash the large items by hand to avoid overcrowding.

Item 4: Silverware

For any silverware items, it is advisable to place them in the silverware basket only. Do not stack these items one upon another, as it can create nesting and leads to inefficient cleaning. To avoid the same, place the spoons, spatulas, knives, etc., together.

Put the sharp items like knives with handles facing upwards to avoid injuries to your hands when removing or unloading them. 

When it comes to spoons and forks, place them with handles facing downwards. This ensures proper cleaning of the items. 

You may ask, what about the long pieces of cutlery? Yes, you can lay them down in the upper basket. 

This is how you load the dishwasher. To help you with a better experience, we listed down some key points. Do follow these without fail for efficient cleaning.


  • Do you have flat pans or large platters to wash? Do not worry! Place all such utensils either on the side of the rack or at the back of the bottom shelf. Please note that you should lay them away from the door. If you put them in the front, they may block the dishwashing detergent and do not allow it to reach other utensils in the machine.
  • If you have cutting boards or large trays to wash, place them in the bottom rack of the dishwasher. They have exclusive slots for fitting them in. However, if these items do not seem fitting, put them to the outside of the section. It is advisable to handwash the cutting boards because, when they get exposed to the heat, it may cause warps on them.

Now that you finished loading your dishwasher, it is time to add some detergent to it based on the load size and water hardness. After you fill it in the dispenser, switch on the appliance to do the rest. If you are unsure of the hardness, just fill the dispenser in half. Now, you can select the settings for further process.

How to Get the Most of Your Dishwasher?

If you want to get the most of your dishwasher, there are certain guidelines to follow. These are crucial to ensure everything comes out of the device as clean as possible. Here are some effective and useful tips for you:

Tip 1: Scrape Large Food Particles Off

This is a very essential thing one should do before loading the dishwasher. Scrape off all the food particles on the plates and other dishes using a spoon or fork. This prevents food particles from getting accumulated in the dishwasher filter. This will ultimately clog the filter and does not facilitate the proper drainage of water.

Moreover, too much residue in the appliance can result in mould formation inside. As a result, your dishes will not be clean and hygienic. If you want every wash to be perfect, try this hack and see the results for yourself.

Tip 2: Place Dishes Facing Down

Here is another effective and useful tip when loading your dishwasher. Always place the dishes or bowls, pots, pans upside down. The dirty sides should face downwards and towards the washer jets in the centre of the appliance. The washer jets present under the top and bottom racks, spray the water upwards, and rinse the utensils. Placing these dishes in a proper inclination facilitates thorough cleaning of these items.

Tip 3: Do Not Overcrowd The Dishwasher

When you are loading the dishwasher, ensure that it does not get overloaded or overcrowded. This will not benefit proper cleaning of the load inside. Adding too many dishes will create nesting inside and do not allow the dishwashing detergent or water to reach all the items. And you know very well what will happen in such cases. The dishes do not get cleaned properly, and you may have to run the appliance again for a thorough wash. To avoid anything as such from happening, it is advisable not to stack the items like bowls or spoons one over the other. Instead, secure these dishes in the spaces or tines provided for them. This will further ensure that they do not topple over or knock against one another during the cleaning procedure.

Tip 4: Dishes Should Not Obstruct Rotating Arms

The spray arms containing the water jets rotate during the washing to diffuse the water and clean the dishes. Hence, the path must not get obstructed during the process. This ensures free rotation of the spray arms throughout the cleaning.

Here is a tip on what you can do. Before starting the load cycle, test spins the arm to affirm if it is rotating freely without any obstruction. If you feel that the arm hit a plate or a utensil during the test run, move that item. Now, you can start the cycle. If you do not remove these dishes from the way, the machine will not clean the load properly.

Another crucial point to note here is the detergent dispenser. It should pop open at the right time of the cycle to allow the water jets to cause suds and discharge the soap on the dishes. If the cup gets blocked and does not open, your machine will not guarantee a proper cleaning.

Tip 5: Pre-Rinse The Dishes Before Loading Only If Necessary

If your dishes are not coming out clean, it means that they need a pre-rinse before loading them in the dishwasher. When the food gets dry on the utensils, it may be difficult for the machine to remove those hardened or stuck particles.

For dishes with residues of dried food particles like eggs, cheese, starch, etc., require special attention. It is advisable to scrape off the particles, scrub, and give them a pre-wash before loading them into the dishwasher. If required, you can also soak these utensils for some time in the sink before loading them.

Tip 5: Facing Everything In The Same Direction

Always place all the dishes upside down. The dirty sides should face downwards and towards the washer jets in the center of the appliance. When you stack them to just one side of the appliance, i.e., to the right or left, some of the dishes will not get full access to the water. To avoid it, place them all towards the middle of the dishwasher so that they get hit by the water spray.

Tip 6: Place Large And Flat Items Away From The Door

It is better to lay the large and flat items like pans or platters on the racks away from the door. If you put them in front of the door, it may block the dishwashing detergent from reaching other utensils in the machine.

Tip 7: Load Dishwasher-Safe Dishware Only

This is one common mistake that most of us tend to do. We load everything in the dishwasher without seeing whether it is dishwasher-safe or not. This not only damages the items but also obstructs the performance of the device. Items made of aluminium, brass, cast iron, bronze, etc., are not dishwasher recommended. The dishware is susceptible to high heat and may get damaged when washed in the appliance.

Tip 8: Unloading

It is important to follow a particular method for unloading, as well. For that, start with the bottom rack first. Only after emptying it, you can move to the top rack. Following this system is essential because water from the concave-shaped bowls or pans in the upper section may spill on the other dishes below.

What Are The Items That You Should Never Put In The Dishwasher?

Seeing a sink full of dirty dishes can be annoying. And, we may put all of these into the dishwasher to get the job done at the earliest. While this is very common to do, it is not advisable. There are chances for the items to get damaged when they get exposed to hot water. Instead, be careful when loading. Load only those utensils that are safe to wash in the dishwasher. Below are some items that you should refrain from using in the device.

  • Cast Iron: Never put cast iron pots or pans in the dishwasher. This will destroy the coating and may lead to the formation of rust on them.
  • Non-stick Pans: Non-stick pans are not for dishwashing. Even if they are dishwasher-safe, use them only occasionally. Regularly cleaning them in the device will destroy the non-stick coating. It is better to handwash such utensils.
  • Delicate Pieces: Dishes that are delicate like the crockery items or made of crystal tend to break easily. So, avoid washing them in the dishwasher.
  • Fine Metals and Finishes: Items made of silver or enamel should never be placed in the dishwasher. Instead, you should wash them by hand only. Otherwise, the detergent and heat can destroy the material and the finish.
  • Wood Utensils and Cutting boards: It is advisable not to put wooden items or chopping boards in the dishwasher. When wood or plastic materials get exposed to heat, it may result in warps on them.
  • Sharp Knives: Avoid washing sharp knives in the dishwasher, as it will reduce the lifespan of these items. It is highly advisable to wash them by hand. If you still want to load them into the device, make sure you put them with handles facing upwards. This avoids injuries to your hands when removing or unloading them.
  • Anything that is not dishwasher safe: Load only those dishes that are dishwasher-safe. Double-check the dishes to ensure if they are safe to put in the appliance. Only after confirming, you can load the items.

What Are The Tips For Effectively Using A Dishwasher?

Here are some dishwasher hacks that help in doing your dishes easier:

  • Always refer to the user manual when cleaning certain dishwashers. Check whether they are dishwasher-safe or not. Do not load those dishes that are not ideal for dishwashing.
  • Do you want your dishes to come out shiny and glossy? Try using a pre-clean liquid for your dishware.
  • Check for the temperature in the dishwasher. You should always maintain it at 48 degrees.
  • Do you want to save on your electricity bills and heater? Use hot water from the tap instead. This will help you in providing the hot water directly to the dishwasher through a hose. As a result, you can save the power consumption on the device.
  • When adding the detergent to the dispenser, make sure that it has no lumps in it. If there are any, break them into powder before you add them. Doing so prevents the formation of lumps in the dishwasher during the wash cycle. Furthermore, it will not leave any marks or stains on the dishes.
  • Are you using a liquid detergent in the dishwasher? Then, shake the bottle well before adding it to the dispenser.
  • Add detergent to the dishwasher dispenser only in the required amount. Do not use in more or fewer quantities but only as needed.
  • If you are living in a hard water area, you can use more amount of detergent.

What Are The Dos and Don’ts of using a Dishwasher?

There are certain dos and don’ts when using a dishwasher. Let us have a quick look at what they are:

Always load the cups onto the sides of the racks. Do not place the cups in the center of the rack.
Put the bowls on the top shelf. Never place bowls on the bottom shelf.
Always place ladles and other utensils between the cups and small bowls. Never stack up spoons and ladles that might nest and club together.
Place all small glasses onto one side of the rack. Adjust large glasses and other stemware on the backside of the shelf. Never place glasses horizontally.
Place all the large plates in the front, facing inwards towards the water spraying arm. Never club plates or stack them one over the other.
Always scrub away heavy food particles. Never add more detergent or liquid into the dishwasher dispenser. Never add it directly to the dishes, as it will clog the spray arms and drains.
Give the spray arm a test spin to check if it is spraying correctly or if it is getting blocked by something or some particles. Never block the arm with heavy dishes.
Put the dirtiest and strongest dishes at the bottom of the rack. Do not pre-rinse the dishes unless required.
Knives, brass, wood, China, and non-stick items are always better to hand wash than in the dishwasher. Never stack everything at random.
To make sure if you can dish wash a utensil, check for the dishwasher safe icon over it. Never overload or overcrowd the dishwasher.

How to load a dishwasher


I hope this article gave you all the insights into loading a dishwasher effectively. It is essential to take proper care and maintenance of the device to ensure its long life and effective performance. Do not forget to follow the necessary steps mentioned in this article if you want to make the most of your device.

Let us know in the comments section below if you tried these tips and hacks. Share your experiences with us by posting your comments. Write to us if you find this article helpful and informative. Do not hesitate to let us know if you have any queries or need more information on the same. Please do share your feedback with us by letting us know if we missed out on any points.

Your inputs mean a lot to us, and we would love to hear and learn from you.

Stay healthy and stay safe!!!

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