How to Load Your Dishwasher the Right Way: Myths Busted

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Loading your dishwasher isn’t just about packing in as much as possible. Canstar reveals how to load up correctly and dishwash like a pro!

It’s something you likely do on the daily: load up your dishwasher with dirty cups and plates until it’s full enough to run. But ever wondered why some plates come out dirty or your wooden spoons have cracked? Have you questioned what way you should really be stacking your plates? Canstar has got the low-down on loading your dishwasher the right way.

1. Location, location

Make sure you’re loading from back to front to fit in maximum dishes. Thin plastics like takeaway containers should be stacked on the top rack to prevent them from melting. Put bowls and cups facedown or on an angle so they don’t collect puddles of water, and keep plates on the bottom shelf, where the spray is strongest. Avoid over-cluttering, if the water can’t reach something, it won’t get cleaned.

2. Cups and glasses placement

It’s a common mistake we’re likely all making: glassware does belong on the top rack, but cups and glasses shouldn’t be placed on top of the tines (the pointy sticks dishes sit between on the rack of the dishwasher). They should actually be placed in between the tines to prevent the cracks that can happen when they bump against each other during the cycle.

3. Plate direction

Avoid loading your dirty plates in a single direction. You should arrange them all facing the center so they have even access to the soap and sprayer. Alternate between large and small sizes when you’re loading, too, to give them the best water flow.

4. Avoid over-rinsing

Rinsing your dishes before loading them into the dishwasher is actually wasting water and your energy. Dishwasher detergents are designed to cling to food particles and separate them from their surfaces, so just scrape off large food scraps into the bin and leave the rest.

5. Use the correct wash program for your dishes

Most dishwashers offer a range of programs, with different power consumption and water-usage levels. Even though an eco-wash might take longer, overall it could use less than half the electricity of a normal wash. For a modern Bosch machine with a 4-star energy rating, the difference between a quick 60-min wash and an eco-wash equates to a saving of approx $55 of power per year (based on one load per day).

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6. Leave your biggest knives and wooden spoons out

Avoid putting sharp knives and wooden spoons in the dishwasher. The heat of the water can degrade these items, and faster than you think. Things like big plastic serving spoons and spatulas should lie flat in the top rack of the dishwasher. Loading them in the utensil basket likely will just block the spray from reaching your other utensils.

7. Vary your knife and fork placement in the basket

Ever lived with someone pedantic about the perfect and upright placement of cutlery in the dishwasher? Turns out it’s not actually worth it. It’s better to alternate their directions, with some handles facing up and others down, to keep them from falling into each other. They will get a more even clean this way.

8. Don’t overload

Don’t overload your dishwasher, your dishes won’t come out as clean as you’d hope, and you’ll end up wasting water and running another cycle. Just hand wash a couple of things and save yourself the trouble.

9. Bulky items beware

Large things such as cutting boards and casserole dishes should go at the back or sides of your bottom rack. If bulky items at placed at the front, it’s possible they’ll block the soap dispenser and prevent detergent from reaching the rest of the dishes. 

10. Other things to keep out

Avoid putting in cast iron, copper and non-stick pans. These all need a little more love and care, so hand wash them. Anything with adhesive labels also isn’t the best for a dishwasher. Labels with glue can clog and hurt it. It’s best to either get rid of the labels before putting the item in the dishwasher, or simply wash the item by hand.

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