It may be a cliché, but I'll admit that my husband and I have had actual arguments over how to load the dishwasher. Turns out, we've both been wrong a few times, according to the dishwasher pros I've interviewed. Here are the 10 best things you can do when loading the dishwasher.
A bonus thing: Don't fight with your significant other. After all, it's just one load of dishes.
1. Skip the sink rinsing.
If your dishwasher is less than 10 years old, don't bother rinsing your dishes before putting them in. Yes, you should wipe of chunks of food — those could potentially clog up the drain — but a relatively new dishwasher brings enough heat and water pressure to wash off even dried food. If your dishwasher is older, you should probably give dishes a quick rinse, though.
2. Mix up your silverware basket.
If you're OCD like me, you probably instinctively want to put spoons with spoons, all facing the same way — but it's actually smarter to mix them up by kind and place some up, some down, to reduce the risk of pieces nesting into each other. This way, all the pieces will be exposed and cleaned.
3. Face plates inward.
Most dishwashers have sprayer arms radiating from the bottom center of the machine and stop a few inches from the interior walls. If you place plates facing outward, the jets of water might not be able to reach the surfaces that are facing the wall.
4. Make sure the sprayer is clear.
Speaking of that sprayer, if you put something over it (say, a large bowl), that item will get clean but nothing else will. Make sure you know where the sprayer is and load dishes around it.
5. Load from back to front.
While it's tempting to open the dishwasher a crack and pop something in there, it's smarter in the long run to pull the drawer all the way out and load in the back. This doesn't affect the cleaning process, it just makes it easier to load the dishwasher.
6. Make sure nothing is sticking out.
As you're cramming plates in or stuffing a silverware basket, making sure no taller or larger pieces stick out — you could damage the dishwasher's door when you close it if something's protruding. On a related note, push all the drawers in and then close the door. If you use the door to guide the baskets back into place, you could cause your dishes to knock into each other and break. For similar reasons, don't slam the door either.
7. Put delicates on the top.
Items made of more fragile materials, like glasses, plastic storage containers, or melamine pieces, do better a little further away from the jets. Higher up, the water pressure's just a little lower, and the water temperature isn't as hot, so you're less likely to get movement (which can lead to breakage) or melting.
8. Don't overload it.
While it's tempting to jam the dishwasher full after a dinner party, resist the urge and do your dishes in batches. If you put too many dishes in there, some items may block water from flowing to others nearby.
9. Use the right amount of detergent.
The biggest user error when it comes to using the dishwasher is adding too much detergent, which can eat away at the finish on your dishes. Read the instructions, use the dispenser as your guide, and add only what's recommended.
10. Do the shake test.
As a person who puts her crystal in the dishwasher (I know, I know), I always do a test before starting it: I give that top rack a little shake to see if any of my glassware moves around and bangs into other stuff. Ideally, pieces won't touch each other at all — adjust your dishes in the tines so they're secure.
More on Dishwashers
Any other tips for loading the dishwasher? Share them in the comments below.