The Secrets to Loading your Dishwasher

Updated: Aug 17

Have you ever heard complaints about the way you load a dishwasher? Well, we have! And almost everyone we know struggles with these same issues.

At SortJoy, we are pretty good at spatial organization but we all agree that dishwashers are hard spaces to organize, even for the pros. The shapes, sizes, and order in which the items are loaded change with every cycle and people can be very particular about the way they think a dishwasher should be organized.

It took some research to figure out the best way to handle our dishwashers and we want to share the knowledge with you.

There is no one way to load a dishwasher and it doesn’t need to be perfect, especially since the organization only lasts through one cycle.

However, there are some basics everyone should know when loading a dishwasher. Today we will be sharing these tips so you can apply them to your own space.

Follow along to see if you can find a better way to manage your dishes.

Let’s start with placement:

  1. Face everything towards the middle of the dishwasher since the water disperses from the center bottom of the racks. This leads to a better cleaning for all items.

  2. Cups, bowls, and delicate items should go on the top rack. The top rack is meant to be a gentler wash so it will help protect your delicate items and helps best reach concave items.

  3. Cups do not go over the tines, they go between them. This ensures that they won’t bump each other and possibly break as they are being washed.

  4. Don’t let dishes touch or overlap. This allows the surfaces of your dishes to receive direct flow from the wash and helps prevent chips.

  5. If you don’t have a cell grate on your silverware caddy, you should alternate silverware handle up to handle down so that they are not able to “spoon.” If you do have a cell grate, face silverware handle down. The one exception to silverware placement is for knives which should always go handle up for user safety.

  6. Dishwashers are usually designed to hold larger, more awkward sized items towards the outside of the racks.

  7. Large utensils should be placed on the top rack so they don’t obstruct the water flow to smaller utensils.

  8. Don’t overload the dishwasher or it won’t clean properly.

  9. If you wash any dishwasher safe plastics, put them on the top rack as it will help keep them from warping.

  10. Ideally, you want the water to be able to flow from the bottom of the dishwasher all the way to the top rack so arrange your dishes on the bottom rack so that water can get through.

Other tips to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t pre-rinse your dishes first (I really struggle with this tip because I hate the idea of putting dirty food into the dishwasher). The detergent is designed to break down food particles and if there aren’t any, the detergent can wear on the dishes themselves. However, do scrape off large food particles before putting the dishes in the dishwasher or the filter can get clogged.

  2. Dishwasher pods work the best of all detergent types but they should be fresh and unexpired. This is a big one! Detergent can lose its effectiveness and once it expires, the properties that eliminate bacteria no longer do their job.

  3. Do not wash plastic takeout containers or other plastic containers unless they are specifically labeled as dishwasher safe. The chemical composition of the containers can change in the high heat environment and can make some products unsafe to use.

Do not wash the following items in your dishwasher:

  1. Wood - The heat of the dishwasher will destroy wood over time.

  2. Nonstick pots and pans- The high heat of the dishwasher can ruin the coating on nonstick pans.

  3. Cast iron - The detergent will cause it to rust.

  4. Delicate Items - The high heat environment can be hard on delicate items.

  5. Gold colored silverware - The gold coating can be worn away and discolored in a dishwasher

  6. Insulated mugs- these typically are not dishwasher safe and the wash will destroy the insulation.

  7. Brass, bronze, pewter, and copper - the wash can discolor these items and destroy the look

  8. Crystal - Crystal can loose its clear finish and become etched during washing.

  9. Porcelain with metallic trim - Porcelain usually can be washed in the dishwasher unless it has metallic trim in the pattern. Metallic trim will wear off in the wash.

  10. Sharp knives - these dull with repeated washing.

If you stick to these tips, you should be golden. Your dishwasher will work better, you will get less frustrated placing items in the space, and you can rest assured that you are managing the space effectively.

Share your dishwasher organization with us @sortjoy on instagram! We would love to know how you do it effectively.

If you have any questions, thoughts, or added tips you want us to know about, we would also love to hear from you! Contact us via email at!


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