Best Way to Load a Dishwasher

Best Way to Load a Dishwasher When it comes to the best way to load a dishwasher, most people are split between two camps: Those who have rules for how to load everything from butter knives and coffee mugs, and those who just deposit items into the appliance at random. But which team wins the battle of loading a dishwasher properly?

Take a look at the following tips and learn the best way to load a dishwasher.

How to Load a Dishwasher 101


There are several basics to keep in mind when you’re learning the best way to load a dishwasher.

  • Every brand of machine has different racks and internal workings, meaning each has a unique loading pattern. Consult your manufacturer’s instructions about how to load your dishwasher to ensure you get the most effective cleaning.
  • Pre-rinse any dishes that will be sitting in the dishwasher for a while before you run a cycle.
  • Some items — like cast iron cookware — should never go in this machine. Make sure you know what dishwasher taboos exist before hitting the start button by checking out Look Before You Load: What Not to Put in the Dishwasher.
  • Don’t stack dishes, as this prevents the sprayer from effectively reaching everywhere.
  • Make sure plastic items are secure, so they don’t get knocked loose. If they are unsettled and get too close to the heating element, they can melt.
  • Avoid crowding the dishwasher, as this can lead to dishes getting broken or not being washed effectively.

Loading Silverware in a Dishwasher


You may think there’s nothing to loading silverware in the dishwasher. You just drop it in, right? Well, there’s a bit more to it.

  • When possible, mix forks, spoons and knives to prevent them from nesting.
  • Load some utensils — like forks and spoons — with handles facing down.
  • Knives should be loaded with the handles facing up so that you don’t cut yourself.
  • Keep silver-plated utensils and stainless steel utensils separate to prevent damage to your good silver.

How to Load Large Items


It’s a well-known fact that larger dishes — like plates, casserole dishes, dishwasher-safe baking sheets and mixing bowls — should be loaded on the bottom rack. But there are a few things you might not be aware of.

  • Make sure the largest items are positioned towards the sides and the back of the rack. (This will allow the water to circulate more evenly.)
  • Load dishes so that the side that is dirty faces the sprayer.
  • Space out larger items to ensure they’re properly cleaned.
  • Don’t assume that just because something is metal or large, it’s dishwasher safe. Many non-stick pots and pans should be washed by hand, so always consult the care instructions.

Loading Smaller Items in Your Dishwasher


As you’re probably aware, the top rack is reserved for smaller items, such as coffee mugs, small bowls and glasses. We’ve got some of extra tips to help you make the most of each dishwashing cycle.

  • Place items in between the tines on the rack — rather than on top of them — to prevent water spots.
  • Load cups and mugs at an angle — with the inside of the cup facing the sprayer — to help limit pooling.
  • Unload the bottom rack first so that any liquid that has puddled in cups or mugs doesn’t splash on clean dishes.
  • Skip the dishwasher when it comes to cleaning wine glasses, as their delicate globes and stems can easily break.
  • Load dishwasher-safe plastic food storage containers and other plastic items on the top rack — and far away from the heating element — to help prevent warping and buckling.


Now that you know the best way to load a dishwasher, you might be interested in some more tips that will help you keep this important appliance functioning properly. Learn how to clean your dishwasher, so that your plates and bowls come out nice and shiny: Tips and Tricks — What is the Best Way to Clean a Dishwasher?

And our housekeeping professionals are experienced in all the best practices and most effective techniques for every area in your home. Contact your local Merry Maids whether you need one-time assistance for a special occasion or help with your weekly cleaning routine.