Loading Tips for the Dishwasher

Cups & glasses in the dishwasher

If you have ever shared a home with another adult, chances are you’ve gotten into a debate about the correct way to load a dishwasher. Why is this a topic people love to argue about? Because everyone is convinced their way is correct.

But is it?

Believe it or not, this is a topic that has been extensively researched by engineers to determine what strategies are needed to secure the best results, best results being the cleanest dishes and silverware. So, what are these strategies? Read on for our tips on the best practices for loading dishwasher appliances.

Know the Mess

What do we mean by this? Essentially, you need to know what type of food is stuck on your dishes. Carbohydrates tend to dry in a way that leaves them extremely gummy, making them difficult to get clean. As such, they need to be positioned where they get the most spraying power. These should form a rough circle in the middle of the machine, allowing the spraying arm to hit them directly with water.

Protein-based messes, however, need time to soak. Does this mean you need to soak them in the sink before loading them? Not if you have an effective dishwasher. Instead, you need to place them along the edges of the dishwasher so the spraying arm hits them less and they soak more.

Silverware Requires Strategy

The biggest complaint most dishwasher owners have is that the machine never gets their silverware as clean as they’d like. In some cases, this means there are water spots left on them, while in other cases it means there are actual food particles left on them. Getting the silverware completely clean requires a bit of strategy.

First, do not wash too much at once. The more crowded the silverware is, the less likely it is to get clean. You need space between pieces so the water can actually get in there.

Next, to create more room, load them with one piece facing up, the next facing down, and so on and so forth. If your silverware basket does not have small compartments to make organizing the silverware easier, you might want to consider purchasing one. As a matter of safety, be sure to have any sharp objects pointing downward so no one gets cut while unloading the dishwasher.

Give Bowls Direct Contact

Because of their shape, bowls can be difficult to get clean in a dishwasher. There are two effective ways you can get them clean. The first is to place them food-side down in the machine; this gets the inside lots of direct contact with the water and ensures a thorough clean. However, this is only feasible if you have a light load or you are happy to do multiple loads of dishes.

If you can’t use the above strategy, place bowls on their sides with the inside of the bowl facing towards the center, where the water jet is usually placed. If, however, your machine has jets in other spots, you can switch things up to target them.

Don’t Block the Spray Arms or Detergent Cup

Most people will not place items in a way they think will block either of these, but they fail to account for the way things move around during the cleaning cycle. For example, a stirring spoon may be placed in the rack in a way that allows the spray arm to knock it loose. It can then fall through the rack and block the arm. Any item that can slip through the rack can block the spray arms, preventing them from cleaning effectively.

As for the detergent cup, it needs to be able to open during the cycle to release the detergent. However, if you load items in a way that stops it from opening correctly, it can prevent the detergent from releasing in full, or at all. Be very careful when loading large items, such as baking sheets and pans.

Beware Things That Break

In general, plates and glasses are designed to be durable enough that a little knocking around in the dishwasher will not cause them to shatter. However, stemware and cocktail glasses are often made with thinner glass, which means they are more delicate. These items can be washed in the dishwasher, but it is important that you leave enough space to prevent them from knocking into other items when the jet stream hits them. The last thing you want to do is clean broken glass out of the bottom of your dishwasher.

Plates Below, Glasses Above

If you have a drawer-style dishwasher, this is not a concern. However, if yours has a traditional setup with one door and two racks, this is important. Plates, bowls, pots, and pans, anything with a large surface area should go on the bottom rack. Glasses, mugs, and other small items should be placed on the top rack. This helps to ensure that the water is able to disperse evenly and that you are making the most of the space you have.

Place Plastic on the Top

This tip is meant for those with dishwashers that have an exposed heating element at the bottom; if your dishwasher does not have this, you can ignore this tip. For those that do have this, plastics need to be kept as far away from it as possible. When this heating element turns on to dry the dishes, it throws off a powerful heat that can melt plastics, even those that are dishwasher safe.

Something else to be aware of is that smaller plastic items, such as Tupperware lids, can move around during the cycle. If they move too much, they can end up on the heating element even if they were on the top rack. Be careful to secure them as best you can to avoid a mess.

Don’t Avoid Multiple Loads

If you are the kind of person who has to carry all the groceries inside in a single trip, you might also be the kind of person who is determined to get all the dishes clean in a single load. However, this means overcrowding the dishwasher. While all your dishes will get cleaner, there is a good chance that none of them will get clean.

As such, if you notice anything in the dishwasher is touching, you need to save some of it for another load. While it does mean a little more work for you, and more time to wait, it also means eating off of spotless dishes. In other words, it is ultimately worth it.

Trust the Manufacturer

Finally, your user manual should have instructions on how to best load your specific model. If the advice in the manual contradicts our advice, go with the manual. It likely means that your dishwasher has a special feature or a different setup than most and requires a different approach.

For Maintenance, Repairs, and Installation, Choose Chief Appliance

Here at West Coast Chief, we are dishwasher experts. If your machine needs maintenance or repair, or you need a new dishwasher installed, we are the team for the job. Call us to schedule your service today.



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