How to Load a Dishwasher

Quit playing dishwasher Tetris and get that sparkling shine every time! Consider this your foolproof quick guide to loading your dishwasher.

Before Getting Started

Top Tip #1: Make sure you use the right detergent for your machine. Ideally, you should be using a rinse aid (vinegar is a good substitute) as well to get a spot-free shine and to remove any stuck-on gunk.

Top Tip #2: Running your dishwasher at night is a great way to save on your electric bill. It can also help you establish a consistent routine (run loads at night, unload in the morning) that is easy to stick to.

Top Tip #3: If hard water deposits are an issue in your home, not to worry. There are now detergents that target this issue!

Top tip #4: Choose a phosphates-free detergent and enjoy the savings of running your dishwasher with cold water!

Top Tip #5: If your home has a garbage disposal, run it a few times to clear it of any lingering food particles and ensure sure those bits of waste are not transferred to your dishwasher during its cycle.

Best Practices For Your Consideration

  1. To maximize space, load your dishes by following the direction of the tines.
  2. Place items facing down to improve water flow, decrease drying time, and never face a gross pool of dirty dishwater again!
  3. Plastic items should go on the top rack since the bottom rack tends to get much hotter in comparison.
  4. Double check that the water arm can turn freely to ensure an effective wash.
  5. Wooden items and insulated mugs are a no-go for the dishwasher. Check out more tips on what is dishwasher safe here.

The Melissa Maker Method

Now, for what you have all been waiting for… here is how I personally load up my dishwasher:

  • I like to put cutting boards and larger platters around the exterior of the bottom rack.
  • I tend to place bowls on an angle to save space and maximize exposure to water.
  • Large and smaller plates are lined up in a staggered pattern to ensure each one is washed properly.
  • I also stagger cutlery and face the knives downward where possible.
  • Pots and pans are placed on the bottom rack where there is room.
  • For stemware, I use the built-in safety rack (the weird-looking hinged thing with the pointy tips).
  • Mugs and glasses go on the top rack on the tines. I like to leave a bit of room between each item to avoid any breaks during the wash.
  • Utensils are also placed on the top rack, facing down and lying flat.

There you have it! A fast and effective way to load up your dishwasher. 

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.