Have you been doing it right?

Michelle Darrisaw

Of all the things you have to worry about on any given day, the last thing you want to think about is how to properly load the dishwasher. Not to mention, who has time to pull out the directions or manual every time you want your dishes and housewares swiftly washed?

While there are a lot of mechanics happening behind that closed dishwasher door, you can save yourself the time and hassle by understanding a few best practices when it comes to your silverware. Arranging your cutlery properly will help you to avoid having to pre-rinse or, even worse, having to rewash your forks and spoons again by hand once you’ve unloaded.

According to Lucinda Ottusch, a dishwasher expert at Whirlpool Corporation’s Institute of Home Science who recently appeared on the TODAY Show, there are three guidelines to ensure your eating and serving utensils come out cleaner. After all, the machine should be doing all the dirty work—not you.

1. Mix up your spoons and forks.

Have you ever opened the dishwasher door only to discover food bits stuck between two spoons? Yuck. Well, Ottusch said this is a result of arranging the spoons too close to each other. An easy fix, according to Ottusch, is to load spoons and forks in the silverware basket with some of the handles up and some down. Not only will this ensure your utensils stay separated, but it also guarantees the spray arm will reach all sides of your cutlery.

2. Always load dinner knives with the handles up.

When loading and unloading silverware, you want the handles to remain up so you don’t accidentally cut your fingers or hands.

3. Avoid the dishwasher altogether when it comes to prep knives.

Harsh dishwasher detergents can damage the wood handles of sharp prep knives. In addition, their keen edges can potentially cut into the silverware basket, particularly if the basket is made of rubber or plastic. With prep knives, it’s best to either wash them by hand or consult your appliance manual for proper loading instructions.