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How to Load a Dishwasher

By Goedekershomelife @goedekers

Load Dishwasher

It's a debate that rages across every household in the country: Which is the best way to load your dishwasher? Poor loading technique usually means rewashing dishes by hand or running the dishwasher multiple times and wasting time and water. Learn how to load a dishwasher properly and try these simple tips to get the most out of your appliance.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Loading the Dishwasher

1. Start with Plates

The bottom racks of most dishwashers feature slots to fit most plates, including entree plates, side plates, and serving plates. When loading plates, make sure that the surface of each one is not touching another.

Group similar-sized plates together and place them in size order with the smallest plates on the inside and the largest plates toward the edges of the dishwasher.

Plates should face the center of the dishwasher at a slight angle, as the jets spray water in an upward and outward direction, and this allows for better rinsing and debris removal.

Load Dishwasher

2. Add Cookware

Most pots and pans need to be hand washed, especially cast iron or non-stick varieties; however, dishwasher-safe cookware belongs on the bottom rack, where it is closest to the water spray, in order to remove stubborn baked-on stains.

To load cookware and pots, use the open side of the dishwasher, which is usually on the bottom rack toward the back of the dishwasher. Load the items face down, to avoid catching water inside, and avoid leaning the pots on top of each other.

Plastic cutting boards and large cooking trays should be loaded on the outside of the bottom rack, as they typically will not fit into the slots that hold the plates. Avoid placing cutting boards around every edge of the rack, so as not to obstruct the access of the water spray to the other dishes.

3. Load the Silverware Basket

In general, flatware and cutlery should be loaded loosely in the basket with the handles downward so the water can reach them more easily. However, this can lead to spoons and forks nesting inside each other, preventing proper rinsing.

One way to stop forks and spoons from nesting is to place them inside the sections of the silverware basket, alternating the handles upward and downward. Some types of dishwashers feature cutlery baskets with individual holes to separate flatware. Dishwashers, like the Bosch SHX863WD5N, have a flexible silverware basket that can be split into two sections and placed anywhere in the dishwasher.

Load Dishwasher

Sharp knives should be loaded with the blade pointed down to avoid injuries when unloading clean dishes. Avoid washing large kitchen knives in the dishwasher, as the high heat and prolonged exposure to water can cause them to rust.

For large utensils, place them on the flat part of the top rack rather than in the cutlery basket, as they can obstruct the rotating arms and prevent the water jets from reaching the rest of the cutlery. The GE Profile 24 dishwasher features a third rack for cleaning flatware, knives, and utensils.

4. Load Bowls and Cups

Avoid placing bowls and cups on the tines of the dishwasher, as this prevents effective rinsing. The top rack typically features a flat side with an inclined surface, which means the water jets can reach the inside of the bowls easily.

Lay bowls and cups inverted on the inclined surface to allow the water to run off easily. Keep cup handles turned toward the edge of the rack and facing the same direction to maximize the available space.

Load Dishwasher

5. Protect Glassware and Stemware

Glassware and stemware need care and attention if you are washing them in a dishwasher. Though most standard drinking glasses are dishwasher safe, items such as fine-stemmed wine glasses may be too tall or fragile for the dishwasher.

Most dishwashers, including Kenmore dishwashers, have a plastic safety rail or mesh on the top rack that folds down to protect stemware from toppling and keeps glasses separate to prevent accidental chips and cracks. Glasses should be placed at an angle to ensure optimal access to water spray. The GE Profile dishwasher features bottle jets that clean-hard-to-reach places inside tall glassware and stemware.

6. Load Tupperware

Most dishwashers have a heating element located in the base of the unit and, while most Tupperware dishes are dishwasher safe, many plastic containers can warp or melt if they are loaded too close to the heat.

Always load plastic food storage containers on the top rack of the dishwasher. Many models of dishwashers, such as the GE Profile dishwasher, feature foldable tines on the top rack to create space for these larger items. Load containers with the open side facing down and use the upright tines on the top rack to hold the container lids.

7. Check Rotating Arm and Water Jets

This step may seem unnecessary to many people but checking the rotating arms will ensure they don't hit any surfaces, which could disrupt the cycle or damage fragile items in the dishwasher and make even the quietest dishwasher rattle around.

To check the rotating arm, push the racks inside the dishwasher and manually spin the arm to make sure the jets do not have any blockages.

8. Check the Filter

Dishwasher filters trap food particles, and the dark, damp environment can become a breeding ground for bacteria if not cleaned regularly. Ideally, you should empty and rinse the filter after every use. But if you do not replace the filter correctly after cleaning, you risk damaging pipes and recontaminating dishes. Always check that your filter is secure before starting the dishwasher cycle.

9. Add Detergent and Rinse Aids

Tablets are the preferred method for adding detergent to the dishwasher. They combine stain lifter, degreaser, and rinse aid in a single handy tablet in a dissolvable wrap for your convenience. They vaporize easily in the dishwasher and don't need special dispensers-simply place one on the bottom edge of the dishwasher before closing the door.

Load Dishwasher

However, some dishwasher models recommend using powder or gel detergents rather than tablets, as the wrappers sometimes do not dissolve completely and can become trapped in the filter. To use powder or gel, place the detergent in the soap dispenser to ensure an even distribution.

The soap dispenser is located on the dishwasher door or the base of the dishwasher. Do not overfill the soap dispenser, as this may not allow the dispenser door to close correctly. If you have noticed remaining food particles on the dishes after washing, fill the second dispenser; otherwise, refrain from using too much detergent powder, as it may leave residue on your dishes.

If you use powdered detergents, add a rinse aid to avoid streaks on glassware and residue on dishes.

10. Select the Right Program

There is no point running a heavy cleaning program if your dishes aren't heavily soiled. Likewise, running a quick or light program may not remove stains effectively. To clean your dishes, choose the right program for the washer load.

Different models have different programming options, so consult the user manual for your specific dishwasher to find the best program to save water and energy.

Common Mistakes When Using the Dishwasher

Although loading a dishwasher isn't a complicated process, there are a few common mistakes people make that reduce the efficiency and effectiveness of the dishwasher.

Rinsing Too Thoroughly

It may sound counterintuitive, but washing your dishes before you load them into the dishwasher reduces the washer's energy efficiency and increases your overall water consumption.

Dishwashers and detergents are designed to remove stains and food particles without pre-rinsing. To prepare your dishes for loading, scrape off large food scraps into the garbage disposal and load the dishes directly into the dishwasher. If you do not have enough dishes to run the dishwasher daily, a light rinse before loading will prevent odors in the interior of the dishwasher.

If you are concerned about lingering food debris and odors, look for a dishwasher with an ExtraScrub option that increases pressure and temperature in the lower rack to remove food stains and a sanitizing feature that eliminates bacteria and enhances drying results.

Load Dishwasher


Dishwashers have allocated spaces for a reason. The available slots and flat rack space are designed to allow water to reach dirty dishes as effectively as possible. It may be tempting to load as many dishes into the dishwasher as possible to speed up the cleaning process, but overcrowding usually means that your dishes will need a second wash, costing you time and money.

Don't try to fit in extra dishes when the washer is full. It is better to leave them for the next time you run the dishwasher.

Using Cold Water

Hot water helps to sterilize the plates as well as remove cooked-on stains, but often people choose a program at a lower temperature to save electricity. Unless you have detergent specially formulated for use in cold water, your dishes will not get clean at low temperatures.

Another issue that sometimes occurs with older model dishwashers is that the element doesn't heat the water sufficiently before running the cycle. One tip to help your dishwasher reach the correct temperature is to run the hot water tap in the sink for a few seconds before running the dishwasher, so that the water that goes into the dishwasher pipes is already warm.

If you're considering a dishwasher upgrade, look for one that features a load size sensor that automates the wash temperature.

Dishes Are Facing the Wrong Direction

The water spray comes from the center of the dishwasher and sprays outward. If your dishes are facing away from the spray, stains may not be removed properly. Make sure the soiled sides of the dishes are facing the spray. This means that dishes at the back of the rack should face forward, and dishes loaded at the front of the rack should face backward.

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Not Cleaning Your Dishwasher

Over time, food particles, detergent residue, and calcium deposits build up on the filter, pipes, and interior of the dishwasher, compromising the performance and efficiency. So, it is important to clean your dishwasher regularly to keep your dishwasher working optimally and your dishes spotless. Don't forget to give the exterior of your stainless steel dishwasher a wipe with a microfiber cloth and glass cleaner to keep fingerprints at bay.

What Not to Wash in a Dishwasher

While dishwashers are effective for cleaning a huge range of kitchen items, there are some dishes and utensils that are better washed by hand to avoid damage to the dishwasher or ruining the performance of the kitchen items.

Wooden Cutting Boards and Utensils

While the high heat of your dishwasher may be the best environment to remove bacteria from cutting boards and utensils, the water can swell and warp the wood and loosen any adhesives causing irreparable damage. It can also strip the natural oils that prevent the wood from drying out, causing it to become brittle.

Cast Iron Skillets

To get the best out of a cast iron skillet, it needs careful seasoning with oil to keep food from sticking to the surface. The strong detergents used in dishwashers strip these oils away, leaving the skillet unusable.

Load Dishwasher

Non-Stick Cookware

Most non-stick cookware is labeled as dishwasher safe; however, the high temperatures of the wash and dry cycle can gradually wear away at the non-stick coating. Non-stick cookware is best washed by hand with a soft sponge and mild soap.

Large Kitchen Knives

A good kitchen knife is an essential tool for any home cook. However, the type of steel used for good-quality knives is prone to corrosion if exposed to water for too long, and kitchen knives with wooden handles can swell and crack. Keep large knives out of the dishwasher and sanitize them manually instead.

Melamine Dishes

Melamine dishes are a durable alternative to plastic dishes, but they are unsuitable for washing in the high temperatures of the dishwasher. Repeated washes in extreme temperatures lead to cracks and fading.

The Takeaway

To get the most out of your dishwasher, it is vital to know how to load a dishwasher properly. However, different dishwasher models may require alternative loading and maintenance instructions, so it is important to consult the user manual. To learn more about the different dishwashers, we have available and how to choose one with the features to meet your needs, call Goedeker's at 1-888-768-1710 for assistance.

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