Apparently No One Knew Their Dishwasher's Top Rack Could Be Raised And Lowered

It’s an easy and helpful trick that’s worth knowing.

Kitchen appliances are marvelous creations that do so much to make our lives better, from quickly cooking dinner to deftly shining-up plates and utensils afterward. So when we discover a new-to-us trick that an appliance can do—or even just a surprising best practice to follow (there is an ideal time to run the dishwasher and a proper way to load silverware, for example)—it can feel like a revelation.

Open dishwasher with clean cutlery, glasses, dishes inside in the home kitchen
Gettty Images

Such a revelation recently came across my Twitter feed in the form of a viral video about the best way to load a dishwasher. There was one section that was so eye-opening that I was inspired to move from couch to kitchen to take stock of my own dishwasher.

The viral, revelatory item was simply this: The second rack of many dishwashers can be raised and lowered to make room for large items on the bottom or top rack. Gasp!

My sprint to the kitchen revealed the unfortunate truth that my dishwasher does not sport this feature (mine is a pint-sized, space-saving, under-sink model that has its own cute quirks but does clean like a dream). But that didn't put a damper on my excitement that this feature exists, period.

I spoke to two dishwasher experts at GE Appliances, Julie Lawrence, senior commercial director, and Jill Condra, product senior marketing manager for the dishwashing team, to learn more about this surprising (and surprisingly unknown) feature. They revealed that the first GE Appliances dishwasher with an adjustable second rack debuted in 2002—that's 20 years of amazing dishwashing technology that many of us have been completely unaware of! According to Lawrence and Condra, not all GE Appliances' dishwashers have the feature, but just about all non-entry level models do.

Some dishwashers even have adjustable third (or cutlery) racks for larger serving ware and small dishes, according to Victor Jacobia, dishwasher product manager at LG.

How Do You Know If Your Dishwasher's Second Rack Is Adjustable? And How Do You Adjust It?

There are essentially two types of adjustable rack formulations: One is more automatic, the other more manual. The easiest adjustable rack set-up to operate will have a paddle or latch mechanism on either side of the second rack that is operated by pushing a paddle inward or lifting a lever to raise or lower the rack to lock into place.

Adjustable Upper Rack Dishwasher
Courtesy of GE

The second, manual, set-up option will have three vertically-stacked wheels on each side of the rack. To operate, you'll pull the entire rack off the runner (like you would remove a drawer from a dresser), and place it between the wheels at the preferred height.

What Is the Purpose of the Adjustable Second Rack of a Dishwasher?

If you've ever tried to wash a large plastic cutting board, oversized platter, or cavernous salad bowl on the bottom rack, or a leggy wine glass on the top rack, you have probably wished you could reconfigure your dishwasher to make everything fit.

Enter the adjustable second rack. Raise it when you have a large item on the bottom rack, and lower it when you've got a tall number up top. It's as simple as that. Just make sure any spray arms are clear to rotate and not blocked by any exceptionally large items.

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