Should You Point Silverware Up Or Down In The Dishwasher?

An expert explains.

Silverware in Basket Pointing Down
Photo: Getty Images

When it comes to using the dishwasher, it's not always as simple as load and go. There's actually an art to loading the dishwasher, and it will look different depending on the brand and model you own. Plus, your utensils, dishware, and favorite coffee mugs will only be as clean as your dishwasher is (yes, it needs cleaning, too).

Thankfully, one of the simplest things we can do to make sure our utensils get sparkling clean is to know which direction to place them in when loading the dishwasher. We asked cleaning expert and founder of @thecleaningchannel, Hailey Becnel, the right way to do it.

Tips for Silverware Washing

"First, I always recommend reading your dishwasher's manual," says Becnel. Proper cleaning and loading methods can even differ in products made by the same brand, and it's important to pour over your manual to keep that expensive appliance (and your beloved glassware) in tip-top shape for years to come.

"A good rule of thumb is to start by purchasing a high-quality detergent," says Becnel. "My favorite is Cascade because it is guaranteed to leave your silverware sparkling."

Should You Point Silverware Up Or Down?

When it comes to actually loading your forks, spoons, and knives in the dishwasher, the cleaning pro says that the best way to load utensils, in her opinion, is with their handles up and sharp edges down. She says this is especially important if you have children in the house, as silverware that faces with sharp edges up can be a safety hazard.

"I also do it this way because it's the most sanitary option when I unload the dishwasher," she says. Picking up forks by their prongs with your fingers, especially if unwashed, can just cause the build up of germs and bacteria, negating some of the work your dishwasher just accomplished. It's important to remind any family member who helps unload the dishwasher of this tip!

Becnel also notes that people who have plastic utensils should always place them on the top rack, near the front of the dishwasher. You'll also want to avoid using sanitizing cycles or any other cycle that requires higher temperatures for washing and/or drying if washing plastic dishware, cups, and utensils in this appliance because high heat can cause plastic to degrade and leach any chemicals it contains into the dishwasher.

Additional Care Tips

Additionally, Becnel says that knives besides butter knives should always be hand-washed. She says running your favorite chef's or paring knife once or twice a week through the dishwasher can cause it to dull faster, making it less effective and safe to use.

But what about that silver-plated flatware passed down by your grandmother? The good news is, that, with the right detergent and know-how, it's plenty safe to toss in the utensil basket of your dishwasher. Just be sure to wash these pieces separately from other utensils, and if you're worried about it tarnishing, consider storing your set with a piece of chalk to keep discoloration at bay.

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