Dishwasher Maintenance: There IS a Right Way to Load a Dishwasher!

Dishwasher Maintenance: There IS a Right Way to Load a Dishwasher!

Dishwasher loading disputes have afflicted household kitchens since the invention of the dishwasher itself. This modern-age old argument has commonly pitted partners on either side of the “knives up or down?”, or, “to pre-rinse or not to pre-rinse?” debates.

While those questions are important (and will be answered below), they don’t address the true heart of dishwasher loading issues, which is, “How can I load my dishwasher to maximize its efficiency?”

Essentially, how a dishwasher is loaded impacts how well it cleans the dishes inside it. Stick to the following dishwasher maintenance and loading tips to have cleaner dishes and, ultimately, increased longevity for your dishwasher.


Rinsing dishes before putting them in is a good idea if you plan for them to sit in the dishwasher more than a few hours before running it.

If you plan on running the dishwasher shortly after loading it, before leftover food bits dry and stick to dishes, pre-rinsing shouldn’t be necessary.

In either case, use of a rinse agent, either a store-bought product or plain, white vinegar. Rinse agents are important for squeaky-clean dishes and also aids in the drying process.

Knives Up or Down?

Place utensils in the cutlery rack in a manner that will increase their exposure to as much water as possible. “Up” or “down” isn’t as important as “not touching” each other. For example, two spoons beside each other that end up “spooning” can prevent either from being properly cleaned. That’s because the water can’t reach surfaces that are touching.

As for sharp knives in a dishwasher? Not a good idea. Sharp knives that go in a dishwasher could end up becoming dull and rusty.

Plastics on Top?

Yes. Dishwasher safe plastics should only be placed on the top rack of a dishwasher. On the lower rack, plastics could be too close to the heating element and become damaged during the drying cycle.

Properly loading your dishwasher not only results in the cleanest possible dishes your appliance but very important as part of your dishware maintenance, as it can produce and also prevents potential damages. Ultimately, a properly loaded dishwasher saves you and your family money by preventing the need for costly dishwasher repairs.