The Real Dish on Loading the Dishwasher
Yes, I know. This doesn’t sound like the most interesting blog upon reading its title, but rest assured you may just learn something from it. I promise!
Loading the dishwasher is not something people want to read about or talk about, but those very people…like you…may be doing the most simplest of chores all wrong. Yes, you!
First off, keep in mind that many dishwashers and dishwasher detergents actually work better when they have work to do, so simply rinsing or gently scraping dishes before putting them in, rather than clearing all the food off of them, is advised by most experts. If the dishes are going to be sitting in the dishwasher for a day or two before being washed however, you might want to scrape off most of the food on them.
Once the dishes are rinsed and on deck to load, just how you put them in the dishwasher is what really matters if you don’t want chipped glasses and you do want clean dishes. To ensure the cleanest of dishes, follow these simple rules:
- Let’s cut right to the chase: the utensils basket is where most people fail at loading a dishwasher. The key to getting clean forks, knives, and spoons is to stagger them in the slots that make up the utensils basket normally found on the bottom rack. Mix forks with spoons and knives and alternate their handles up and down. Always keep spoons separated so they don’t “nest” and spread all utensils out. There are several basket slots to use so don’t pile all silverware in only one or two! Some dishwashers have separate utensils racks above the top rack, leaving no room for error in this category
- Plates go on the bottom rack, facing the center. It’s also a good idea to alternate big plates and little plates for maximum rinsing efficiency.
- Pots, pans, and any dishwasher-safe cutting boards should be placed on the outer edges of the bottom rack.
- Cups and glasses go on the top rack and be sure to place them between the tines, not on or over them.
- Bowls should be placed at a diagonal along the tines on the center of the top rack, along with any dishwasher-safe plastic pieces.
- All long serving spoons and utensils should always go on the top rack, not in the utensils basket, and preferably horizontally and with spoons facing down.
- If you have hard water, you will probably want to use a rinse aid such as Jet-Dry or even household vinegar.
- Never ever put iron, pewter, bronze or wooden spoons and bowls in the dishwasher.
- Never put good knives in the dishwasher either; always hand-wash them.
- It’s a great idea to occasionally put your sponges in the dishwasher as they can get pretty sketchy looking, and did you know a dishwasher’s top rack is the ideal place to wash all those baseball caps you and your family own?
- Your dishwasher works best with hot water but may take some time to heat up, so always run the tap of the adjacent sink until the water is hot prior to starting the dishwasher. In addition, run the disposal before starting your dishwasher as the two often share the same pipe. This will ensure the drain is clear and ready to use for optimum cleaning.
- Lastly, do those drippy glasses and cups drive you crazy when unloading a dishwasher? Me too! I like to leave the dishwasher door cracked a bit when the cycle is done to allow air drying and I also try to remember to unload the bottom rack first, meaning any top rack drips hit the floor of the dishwasher rather than the plates!
It may not be your favorite chore but keep in mind how fortunate you are to have a dishwasher. It’s a luxury not shared by many in this world. I actually remember the day my family got one when I was growing up. Before that, dishes were a real chore with washing, drying, and putting away all done immediately after every meal. It’s also a chore you should have your kids be responsible for as early as elementary age. Start ‘em young and start ‘em right!