How to Load a Dishwasher to Improve Cleaning Performance

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Did you know that loading the dishwasher properly is just as essential for clean dishes as detergent and water? The correct loading techniques ensure that each item has access to detergent, water, and air for drying, creating cleaner dishes. But what are the right loading methods for the best results? We’ll review how to load a dishwasher with rack-by-rack tips for spotless dishes.

Tips, Tricks, and Common Mistakes:
How to Load a Dishwasher Properly

Knowing how to load a dishwasher properly not only results in cleaner dishes but can also prevent harm to dishwasher components. Our loading tips for the upper rack, lower rack, and silverware basket are easy enough to be part of your daily routine. But first, we’ll discuss common loading mistakes to avoid for better results.

Common Dishwasher Loading Mistakes to Avoid

Your dishwasher may not be the one to blame if your dishes don’t emerge clean and sparkling. These common mistakes illustrate how not to load a dishwasher, so you don’t end up overworking this important kitchen appliance:

  • Omit the pre-rinse: there’s no need to rinse dishes before loading the dishwasher. Most detergents work best when combined with leftover grease and grime.
  • Avoid overloading: a lack of space between items can limit water, detergent, and airflow to each dish, decreasing your dishwasher’s efficiency.
  • Limit detergent: using too much detergent can create an excess of suds that can make rinsing more difficult, leaving streaks on dishes and glassware. Too many suds can even result in a clogged dishwasher or messy leaks.
  • Place longer items on the top rack: squeezing long utensils into the bottom rack or silverware holder can block the dishwasher’s spray arms. Lay these longer items flat in the top rack to avoid obstructions.
how to load dishwasher
Overloading the dishwasher can prevent dishes from getting clean.

How to Load the Upper Rack

Small plates, cups, glasses, and bowls should all be placed on a dishwasher’s upper rack for safer cleaning. Many upper racks can adjust up or down to accommodate taller glasses, or can even be removed completely, allowing for larger items below. These dishwasher loading tips can further maximize upper rack space:

  • Position cups, glasses, and bowls at an angle, facing downward, for better rinsing and access to water and detergent.
  • Reserve the upper rack for plastic items so they’re not damaged by the heating element at the base of the dishwasher.
  • Secure wine glasses with the upper rack’s adjustable plastic mesh to prevent breakage.

How to Load the Lower Rack

A dishwasher’s lower rack was designed to accommodate larger plates, bowls and cookware. Follow these dishwasher loading instructions to correctly use the lower rack’s features:

  • Insert one dish per each of the rack’s slots. Face dishes inward for better access to water and detergent.
  • Position pots, pans, and mixing bowls facing downward for optimal draining and detergent access.
  • Place taller pieces like serving plates and cutting boards in the back and along the sides of the lower rack so they don’t block spray arms.

How to Load the Silverware Basket

The silverware basket can be placed in the bottom rack or hung from the interior dishwasher door to save space. Many silverware baskets can also be completely removed to allow for easy counter-top unloading. Here’s how to load a dishwasher silverware basket properly:

  • If your silverware basket has slotted covered compartments place one item in each slot. If the compartment is uncovered, alternate forks and spoons next to each other to avoid nesting.
  • Position knives upside down to avoid grasping the blade when unloading.
  • Secure small items like baby bottle covers and jar lids in the silverware basket to avoid damage.
how not to load a dishwasher
Loading knives into dishwasher basket handle side up will make it safe to unload.


Tiger Mechanical’s team of dishwasher experts can address any issue, from how to load a dishwasher to assessing repairs. Call us with any questions or concerns!

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