Loading the dishwasher seems pretty simple - the dishes and soap go in and clean dishes come out. What if we told you that *how* you load the dishwasher can make a difference in how efficiently the appliance cleans and sanitizes your dishes? Whether your dishwasher is six years old or brand new and high-end, using our tips for loading your dishwasher works with the design of the appliance getting you the cleanest wash possible.
What Does NOT Go into the Dishwasher
Disposable containers like Styrofoam take-out boxes, super thin plastic sauce cups, drinking straws, plastic cutlery and other items you would get when bringing home food from an eatery or getting take-out should never be put in the dishwasher. The high heat will melt or warp disposable containers and possibly cause those materials to end up clogging or damaging the motors and components of your dishwasher.
Aside from take-out containers, there are a few other items that we recommend are not put into the dishwasher, even if the manufacturer has indicated they are dishwasher safe. First is non-stick cookware. The high water heat and caustic nature of the cleaner react with the non-stick coating, causing it to lose its non-stick properties over time and as the surface wears away, and leach chemicals into the food you cook. Second, large kitchen knives like butcher knives, chef knives, bread knives and even paring knives are not recommended for the dishwasher. With the already mentioned high heat and caustic soap, even so-called "rust proof" knives will eventually rust along the cutting edge.
And before you begin, make sure to scrape excess food and debris from the surface of dishes into the trash before loading into your dishwasher. If your dishwasher is on the older side, a good rinse before loading is a great idea.
Loading the Bottom Rack
The hottest part of your dishwasher is the bottom rack so no plastics on the bottom. Otherwise, a good practice is to begin by alternating smaller and larger plates in the rack, allowing more efficient water flow to the entire surface area of the large plates. Tall items like cookie sheets and casserole dishes can be loaded along the perimeter of the bottom rack, allowing them to get clean without interfering with the spinner attached to the top rack.
Silverware and utensils get the best clean when they are pre-rinsed to remove food and then equally distributed in the utensil rack with handles down and tines and spoons up (the part you put in your mouth should be facing up, not shoved down into the utensil rack). This allows the part of the utensil you eat off of to get full exposure to the hot soapy water and get cleaned and sanitized. Smaller knives that may go into the dishwasher such as steak knives should go point down at a slant to prevent the tip of the knife from poking out of the bottom of the utensil rack and potentially damaging the moving components.
Loading the Top Rack
The top rack is where you would put cups, glasses, non-disposable plastic food storage containers, and plastic cooking utensils like spatulas and slotted spoons (note: NEVER put wooden utensils in the dishwasher). You will want to make sure that any bowls or containers are facing down toward the sprayer and not on their side to ensure the entire surface inside the bowls or containers is exposed to the water. And be sure not to put smaller cups inside of larger cups in the dishwasher as this just prevents both from getting a proper cleaning. The top rack is also where you would put more delicate items however, if an item is an heirloom or irreplaceable, your best bet is to hand-wash it.
Before closing up and starting the wash cycle, you'll want to make sure all moving parts and spinners are able to move freely and are not blocked by anything you've loaded into the appliance.
Following these tips for loading your dishwasher works with the design of the appliance and helps you get the most sparkling clean dishes possible. Who knew there was a science to loading a dishwasher? (Well, aside from us...) At Appliance Science, we have a formula for your fix!