There’s no right way to load a dishwasher, but here’s how you’re doing it wrong

man loading dishwasher

There's no right way to load a dishwasher, but here's all the ways you're doing it wrong.

Loading a dishwasher seems straightforward, right? I always thought so, but after struggling with clogged drains, melted cups, and foggy dishes, I knew I was doing something wrong. Recently, my friend was rightly being reprimanded by his partner for overloading the washer yet again, and I figured I should write this quick post. We’ve all been there, so learn from my mistakes. The dishwasher is here to make your life easier, not harder.

Avoid Overloading

overcrowded dishwasher

The cardinal sin of dishwasher use is overloading. It’s tempting to cram in just one more plate or squeeze in a few extra cups. You’re busy, pressed for time, and only want to have to do this once. But resist the urge. Overloading prevents water and detergent from reaching all surfaces, leaving you with less-than-clean results, meaning you’ll have to deal with it again anyways. A well-loaded dishwasher allows for space between items, ensuring a thorough clean.

Pre-Scraping is a Must

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While modern dishwashers are quite powerful, they’re not magic. Scraping off food residue before loading is crucial. This simple step prevents food particles from redepositing on dishes or clogging the dishwasher’s filter, leading to inefficiency and unpleasant odors. A clogged filter also causes the foggy glass on your cups. You don’t need to soak the dishes, just do this beforehand.

Mind the Placement of Rubber and Plastic

Rubber and plastic items can be dishwasher victims. These materials should go on the top rack, away from the heating element. This prevents warping and potential health hazards from chemicals potentially leeching at high temperatures. If you can, skip the high heated drying to be on the safe side.

Wood is Not Dishwasher-Friendly

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Wooden utensils and knives with wooden handles are a no-go in the dishwasher. The intense heat and moisture can cause warping, splitting, and damage to the wood. Hand wash these items to preserve their quality and longevity.

Protect Your Decorated Cups

Cups with decals or delicate designs should also be relegated to the top rack. The gentler wash cycle up top helps protect these decorations from being eroded or damaged by the harsher conditions at the bottom. You don’t want that limited edition Star Wars cup fading as soon as you get it!

Utilize the Third Rack Wisely

If you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher with a third rack or sliding tray, use it for more than just flatware. This nifty space is perfect for small items and easily lost pieces like baby bottle lids and pacifiers. It can also be a great spot for light cookware, ensuring a thorough clean without the risk of damage.

Handle Non-Stick Pans with Care

Non-stick pans should stay out of the dishwasher to preserve their coating. The intense heat and strong detergents can damage the non-stick surface, leading to peeling or flaking. This not only diminishes their cooking efficiency but also risks contaminating your food. They’re easier to clean than you think. If you’ve maintained them well, food isn’t going to stick. That’s the whole point of the pan. Gently hand wash these pans using mild soap and a soft sponge, then dry thoroughly.

Bonus Tip: Quick Dishwasher Cleaning Hack

While we’re on the topic of dishwashers, let’s not forget about keeping the machine itself clean. A well-maintained dishwasher not only performs better but also lasts longer. Grab a dishwasher safe cup, like a Pyrex measuring glass. Pour a cup white vinegar into it. Place that on the top rack in an empty dishwasher, and run a cycle on the hottest setting. It’s a quick and effective way to clean and deodorize the dishwasher.

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