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The Most Efficient Way to Load a Dishwasher

by Michael Webster

A dishwasher’s sole purpose is to make our lives easier and more convenient by taking on our loads of dirty dishes that we don’t want to clean by hand. Dishwashers are one of the most hardworking home appliances, but even the best of the bunch won’t get the job done if they’re loaded up wrong. Night after night, we continue to fill it up with various dishware, but have you ever taken the time to see if you’re actually loading up your dishwasher properly?

Everyone has their own method of loading the dishwasher, and everyone thinks theirs is the best way to do it. However, there are some key factors that every sparkling-clean load has in common that most folks wouldn’t think about. It’s always a good idea to check the owner’s manual for any special loading instructions, but if you’re having trouble locating it (or threw it away), we have several tips that will help most dishwashers deliver optimum results.

Top Rack

When loading up your dishes, it’s always best to start things off on the top rack. The placement of dishware in the top rack needs to be organized, as well as a bit strategical. Cups, glasses, and small bowls should all be placed in the top rack − but avoid overcrowding them.

Rows of clean mugs, glasses, and plates loaded up in the top rack of a dishwasher.

Having too many dishes next to each other increases the risk of breakage and blocks the flow of water and detergent, so be sure to have plenty of space when you begin loading them up. Also, if you have any dishwasher-safe plastics, make sure they are placed on the top rack as well. Placing those plastics on the top rack will keep them away from any heating element, which could potentially cause them to warp.

Bottom Rack

Once your top rack is filled up, it’s time to move on down to the base of the dishwasher: the bottom rack. The bottom rack is where you’ll want to put your large, heavier dishware; anything from plates, bowls, and other large items belong on the bottom rack. Platters, dishwasher-safe cutting boards, and other oversized pieces should be placed more towards the sides and back, so they don’t block water spray.

Bottom rack of a dishwasher filled with clean dishes and silverware.

Aluminum and stainless-steel cookware can usually be put in the dishwasher on the bottom rack, but any items that are brass, bronze, wood, or china with gold leaf, should all be hand-washed to avoid discoloration and damage. As hardworking as our dishwashers are, some dishes do require more delicate care to ensure they are cleaned properly. 


Now that both racks are filled, it’s time to handle the assortment of silverware. This is more of an obvious one, but all silverware should be placed in the utensil basket. However, there are a couple of nifty methods to practice that will get all of your pieces of silverware looking crystal clean.

It might seem logical to place forks, spoons, and knives in their own compartments; but mixing them together prevents them from nesting and will help get them cleaner. All forks and spoons should be placed in the basket with the handles facing down, whereas knives should be placed with the handles facing up so that you can avoid grabbing a sharp blade.

Close up of the bottom rack of a dishwasher that is focused on the clean silverware with white plates in the background.

Another important tip to note: If you’re washing stainless steel and silver utensils next to each other, it could cause a chemical reaction that will dent the silverware. Don’t test your luck − keep these metals on opposite sides of the utensil basket whenever putting them in the dishwasher.

Unloading the Dishwasher

Whew! Just when you thought you were finished, you still need to unload all of those squeaky-clean dishes. Unloading the dishwasher can sometimes seem like the most daunting chore, but if you apply these tips to your routine, it’ll soon become an absolute breeze!

First off, start with emptying the bottom rack; otherwise, water that collects on the concave surfaces of mugs, bowls, or glasses from the top rack will spill onto the plates, pots, and any other dish that’s sitting below. Once you’re finished with the bottom rack, unload the silverware next (for the same reasons as the lower rack), before eventually ending with the items on the top rack.

We also recommend putting away like-dishes at the same time (sort the spoons with the spoons, plates with the plates, etc.). This will allow you to unload the dishes quicker and more efficiently, giving you more time to relax!

Woman unloading dishwasher with both washer racks pulled out.

And if you really want to kick back while your dishes clean, a new dishwasher with state-of-the-art features could take the stress of cleaning your dishes away in an instant! With our selection of modern dishwasher styles, we can guarantee that your dishes will never be cleaner, all while saving you precious time around the house. Call us with any questions you may have about the right dishwasher for you!

Dishwashers make our lives much more convenient in many ways, especially if they are used properly. Even as dishwasher technology advances, a washer is only as good as how the dishes are loaded up (and then eventually unloaded). If your current dishwasher just isn’t cleaning your items how you’d like it to, a new one could be the quickest and most effective solution to make sure you never have to worry about dirty dishes again.

Shop our top selection of dishwashers from trusted brands here and put an end to dirty dishes today!