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How to Load Your Dishwasher: Yes, there is a Right Way and a Wrong Way

by Isabelle

How to load your dishwasher

Do you need to pre-wash your dishes or don’t you? What goes on the top shelf and what doesn’t? Can wine glasses go in? What about grandma’s china? And what about baby bottles?

Who knew a simple appliance could generate so many questions? Well, because today’s dishwashers aren’t all that simple.  They’ve evolved from their early year counterparts and are now not only handy, but pack a powerful punch in household cleaning power.


First, let’s start with the basics. Each dishwasher brand, just like the homes they are in, is unique.  While many brands offer many of the same features and options, each is designed in its own way and each has its own way to be loaded.

Yes, each dishwasher brand has its own instructions for how to properly load dishes for optimal dishwashing performance.  Don’t believe me? The Kitchn has a fun little article on this very thing, and includes a link to the Flickr album Joe Clark created featuring the handy illustrations provided by all dishwasher manufacturers.  While there are many similarities between the brands, each does offer tips specifically for their models on how best load for optimum cleaning power.


Pro Tip: For the absolute best way to load your dishwasher we recommend you check out the manual for your model - it’s got handy tips for just this very thing!  Don’t have it anymore? Most manufacturers offer these up as downloadable files on their websites, a quick internet search for the make and model number should have you off to the races.


While each model has its ideal method, we’ve rounded up our top five tips for loading effectively:

Don’t Spoon

We all love a good spoon, but when it comes to loading your dishwasher spooning is not ideal. It’s best to mix up loading cutlery tip to tail so they avoid spooning or nesting with each other, making it hard for water to get in between.

Don’t Get in the Way

When it comes to your dishwasher jets, it’s best not to get in their way. They’ve got a job to do, and if you do your job right (ie: loading effectively) you’ll be a great pair.  To avoid getting in the way of the jets, place cookie sheets and large platters on the outside of the bottom rack, and be sure your larger bowls and casseroles are on an angle rather than face down blocking the jets from the dishes above.

Keep Out of the Pool

Just like you shouldn’t dive into the pool after eating, your dishwasher eats your dirty dishes best without the help of pooled water. Make sure larger utensils like serving spoons are placed face down on the top rack so no dirty water pools.

Top Shelf Plastic

Keep baby bottles, reusable containers, and sippy cups to the top shelf.

Don’t be lazy

We all love our dishwashers, but they’re not an excuse to throw any old kitchen item inside. Keep your good knives, grandma’s gold rimmed china, and these nine other items The Huffington Post rounded up.


Now that you’re loading the dishes IN properly using the handy guide provided by the manufacturer you’re ready to start using some of the cool new features your dishwasher offers. Since most of us only buy a new dishwasher once every decade or so, it’s definitely worth checking out what’s new in dishwashing.  If it’s been a while for you, read on to see some new dishwasher technologies.

This GE dishwasher offers bottle wash jets which means hard-to-reach areas inside tall items get completely clean with their four specialty tines with dedicated jets integrated into the upper rack that shower water deep inside for the ultimate clean.  Very handy for those cleaning baby bottles or sports water bottles on the regular.


This Samsung model offers customized cleaning. With their “Zone Booster” smart setting giving you an entirely clean load, with controllable intensive washing at the touch of a button. Place heavily soiled pots and pans on one side, targeting them for higher water pressure and temperature wash to remove grease and food particles. Dishes and glasses rest on the other side for a normal wash with lighter water stream.


The chopper feature on this Maytag dishwasher has Moms of the internet all a twitter with delight.  While having helpful kids load the dishwasher is great, having a dishwasher that chops all the leftover food waste up (so you don’t need to worry about scraping each dish clean) is even better!

And of course, how can we forget the amazing power of steam? The power of steam in your dishwasher offers up the power to:

  • Kill bacteria & sanitize – great for things like baby bottles
  • The high heat from steam helps to loosen baked on bits and eliminates the need for pre-washing or rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher
  • Steam makes cleaning precious china in the dishwasher possible because it’s much gentler than a direct blast of water.
  • Check out the hidden controls on this powerful machine, delivering 65% more wash power.

Looking to save some money? Today’s quiet dishwashers are ideal for running at night, saving you energy costs without sacrificing quality sleep.

Isabelle, Your Appliance Expert