12 Mistakes You May Be Making When Loading Your Dishwasher

Read on to learn how to make the most of your dishwasher.

Person Loading the Dishwasher

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If there’s one fact that is not up for debate, it’s this: Dishwashers are one of the greatest inventions of all time. That is, if you’re actually using them properly. While most dishwashers are pretty simple to use, sometimes loading them up properly can get tricky.

The best way to really maximize a dishwashing load is to use the dishwasher correctly. Below, we’ve asked multiple experts for common mistakes you may be making when loading your dishwasher. 


Skip the pre-rinsing—you’ll save water and time. “Just scrape the solids into the bin and you're good to go,” explains Jorge Leiva, owner of Bee Maids House Cleaning Services in Houston, Texas. “The whole purpose of a dishwasher is to make your life easier and help the environment by saving water, so you don't need to pre-rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.” Don’t forget that modern dishwashers have sensors to determine how dirty your load is in order to optimize resources.

Placing Cookware and Dinnerware Incorrectly

“If you want to get the best out of your dishwasher, plates and dinner dishes must be loaded into the lower rack,” explains Leiva. “Additionally, large items such as pans and pots must be loaded facing downwards—place your cookware from biggest to smallest.” Smaller items, such as mugs and “dishwasher safe” items, should go in the upper rack.

Not Placing Items at an Angle

Typically located beneath the lower rack, dishwasher spray arms clean dishes by spraying powerful jets of water upwards. “Dishes should therefore be loaded at an inward angle for the best washing results,” explains Richard Tarrant, Senior Vice President Dishwasher Care, BSH Home Appliances. “Likewise, do not overlap dishes, as this may prevent the water jets from reaching certain parts of the dishes.”

Obstructing the Spray Arms

“The spray arms rotate to disperse water throughout a wash to clean your dishes effectively,” explains Tarrant. “Thus, keeping their path clear of any obstruction will ensure that the arms can rotate properly for a thorough wash.” 

Loading the Silverware Basket Incorrectly

According to Tarrant, silverware should be placed within the basket, ensuring cutlery types (especially spoons) are mixed to prevent nesting. “Knives should always be loaded point down for safety,” he says. 

 Not Mixing and Matching the Plates 

 It’s a good idea to mix and match the plate size, as they don’t all have to face the same way. “Some trays are designed to have plates face the center, so the left and right side of the tray will allow plates on each side to face the center,” explains cleaning expert Sabrina Fierman. “And the reason to mix sizes is to allow the water jets to circulate better between the plates.”

Putting Wooden Utensils and Cutting Knives in the Dishwasher 

Not every plate, knife, or cutting board is suitable to be washed in a dishwasher. “Wood cutting boards, insulated mugs, thin plastic, and antiques are some of the items that shouldn’t go into a dishwasher,” explains Leiva. “When buying kitchen stuff, always read the manufacturer's instructions to see if it's suitable for dishwashers.”

Placing Glassware Incorrectly 

Don’t place any glassware on top of the tines on the top rack. “Place them in between the tines—they should help prevent the glassware from knocking against other glassware and chipping.”

Even better? Place your drinking glasses at an angle inwards on the upper rack. “Angling glasses inwards helps to prevent water drips from falling onto other dishes, as well as helps with drying—especially with deeper concave areas on the bottom of large mugs,” says Tarrant.

Putting Platters and Cutting Boards in the Front or Center 

Platters and cutting boards should be placed on the sides or in the back of the dishwasher. “Placing them in the front can prevent the soap from being able to disperse in the wash cycle,” says Fierman. 

Placing Glassware on the Bottom Rack 

According to Fierman, it’s best to resist the temptation to place glassware on the bottom rack, even when the upper rack is full. “The appliance is designed for a gentler wash on the upper tray, and glassware can more easily break on the bottom,” she explains. 

Overloading Your Dishwasher

Overloading the dishwasher is a common mistake. “When this happens, the dishwasher will not perform accordingly, and some bowls may end up facing up, filled with water,” explains Leiva. “The first sign of an overloaded dishwasher is that you can’t place the racks back in, hence you can’t close the door.” If you are able to close the door and start a cycle, the extra items you placed in the dishwasher might interfere with the rotation of the nozzle. Not only could your dishes come out dirty after the cycle, but overloading could also break your machine, too. 

Not Cleaning Your Dishwasher Filter 

Thankfully, cleaning your dishwasher filter is easy. “Just detach it from the unit, manually remove dirt or any other buildup, and then rinse it well under running water,” suggests Leiva.

And in terms of how often you should clean your dishwasher filter, it really all depends on how often you use the machine. “Some people would rather hand wash dishes and use the dishwasher sporadically, while others use it daily,” explains Leiva. “However, you can help keep your dishwasher running smoothly by giving your filter a clean every two to three months.” If your dishwasher is not performing at its peak, your nozzles might also need to be cleaned. Refer to your machine manual to review the cleaning directions.

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