It may seem like a relatively standard task, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t understand how to load their dishwasher for the best possible results. It’s not always malfunctioning dishwashers or weak soap that’s responsible for less than spotless plates and cutlery after a wash cycle; there maybe something you can do differently to get the most out of your dishwasher.
The first step is to strategically load the top rack. Be sure to place cups, glasses, and small bowls in the top rack after you’re scraped off the biggest chunks of food that may be present. That said, you shouldn’t have to prerinse anything you place on the top rack of your dishwasher provided you bought it within the last decade. The biggest factor is that you avoid overcrowding, which can increase the risk of breaking something and also prevents and lessens the power of the flow of water and detergent. Dishwasher-safe plastics also belong on the top rack, as this is where they’ll be safest from the heat element that threatens to warp them.
Your next step is silverware; be sure to load all your forks and spoons with the handles facing down while placing knives with the handles up. You don’t want to cut yourself as you remove the knives, nor do you want anyone in your household to take that risk. If your dishwasher has an open basket, it’s a good idea to mix up your spoons, forks, and knives so that there’s no nesting pockets that soap and water may not reach.
Now you’re ready to consider your larger items. Put your plates and serving bowls along with other larger items on the bottom shelf of the dishwasher. Oversize items like platters and dishwasher-safe cuttingboards should be kept at the sides and int he back of the rack so that they don’t block any of the water streams or detergent. Items with baked on food should be placed downward towards the spray arm.
Your pots and pans can generally go in the dishwasher provided that they are made of aluminum or stainless steel. There should be a dishwasher-safe indication at the bottom of the cookware, which you should seek out just in case. Otherwise you can check your owners’ manual or manufacturer’s website to see if there are specific washing instructions for your particular pan.
So long as you follow these instructions, you should be on your way to cleaner dishes every time. However, there are some scenarios that you want to avoid. Don’t put large kitchen knives in the dishwasher, for example, since the heat and chemicals can take a toll on the knife’s lifespan. Anything made of brass, bronze, wood or china with a gold leaf should be washed by hand. You should also wash your nonstick pans by hand, even if the manufacturers claim that the items are dishwasher safe.
Another tip; once you’ve loaded your dishwasher, run the kitchen sink until the water gets hot before you start the cycle. Use good detergent!