How to Load a Dishwasher Properly – Dishwasher Dos & Don’ts

How to Load a Dishwasher Properly - Dishwasher Dos & Don’ts

Having become a familiar face in kitchens by the 1970s it’s easy to think we are pros at this. But are you missing some simple details that stop you from making the most of this kitchen appliance?

The humble dishwasher, the mechanical wizard that graces our kitchen with sparkling clean plates and pans. This kitchen King of Efficiency saves us time, money and water, too.

Having become a familiar face in domestic and commercial kitchens by the 1970s it’s easy to think we are pros at this. But are you missing some simple details that stop you from making the most of this kitchen appliance?

Organisation is Key

In order to gain the most from anything, you need to take a step back and plan your approach. Here are a few tips to make dishwasher loading (and unloading) a smoother experience:

  • DO fill your dishwasher strategically to make maximum use of the space available. Load bigger items first and slot the smaller things in the remaining space.
  • When it comes to unloading you’ll thank us for this next hint: DO put cutlery types into the dishwasher together. That way, you won’t have to waste time sorting cutlery out when you unload.
  • Unload from bottom to top. Have you ever picked up a mug from the top rack that has a little pool of water in it? DON’T let this murky water pour all over your nice clean plates on the level below! Unload the bottom tray first, then work your way up.
  • Being careful won’t just save you time, it could also save your skin! DON’T load any sharp objects with the end facing up, you might forget it’s there when it comes to unloading or somebody else might unload it for you. Not seeing the sharp point could end up really hurting somebody. Be safe rather than sorry.

Good Plate Practice

  • An unfortunate bad habit that many of us have could be costing you a cleaner plate. Modern machines can handle food residue so DON’T waste time or water rinsing your plate before loading them into the dishwasher. Simply scraping the waste straight into the bin is best. The detergents are created to attack food particles, so if there aren’t any there you may end up with a less effective wash cycle and you could possibly even see chips and cracks appearing in your plates.
  • The only food you DO rinse completely away first before loading is rice, a nasty culprit for clogging drain hoses.
  • When it comes to plates and spoons (and anything else that can slot together) try to keep them apart. DO split up plates by putting smaller ones between bigger ones and make sure your spoons aren’t “spooning.” The closer things are together the less likely they are to get cleaned properly.
  • Bowls and any other concave dishes need to be placed facing down. If seeing a tub full of grey water with bits of food floating in it hasn’t already put you off, it is important that you DO place the dirty side of these curved dishes towards the jet sprays.
  • Most things can be put in a dishwasher but DO always check when you buy new items for your kitchen to make sure you aren’t going to inadvertently destroy them by popping them in the dishwasher. For example, hand painted items or colourful beakers may lose their paint, knives may become less sharp and non-stick pans could lose their coating.
  • Items won’t just be destroyed by your dishwasher but actually your dishwasher could end up being destroyed by your items. For example, DON’T put jars with their labels into your dishwasher. The glue on the labels will melt off in the hot water and go into pipes, clogging them and your drains.

Timing is everything

  • DON’T waste time. Move quickly to prevent any food drying on to your utensils, pans and dinner service. Not only is dried on food harder to remove, but on ceramic items it can also cause permanent stains. Get these items in the dishwasher and turn it on as soon as possible to prevent any issues.

What to use

  • DO use the hottest water available to ensure a thorough clean – piping hot water is more likely to remove dried on food and more importantly get rid of those pesky hidden germs! Hot water is also needed to melt dishwasher detergents down properly, so DON’T skip out on the hot water.
  • DO use a rinse aid – it prevents streaks and water spots as well as letting them dry quickly.

Full but not Too Full

  • DON’T waste energy by running a half full dishwasher.
  • DON’T overfill your dishwasher or nothing will come out clean. The spray won’t be able to reach everything if it’s blocked by an overcrowded tray.
  • DO ensure you’ve packed it wisely – see our first tip again!

Maintaining a Healthy Dishwasher

  • Cleaning is key for your dishwasher’s lifespan. DO remove any food that is trapped in the filter, rims, trays and bars.
  • Good practice requires dishwasher users DO run them every six months with nothing in it. This stops your dishwasher from smelling and keeps it running efficiently and cleanly.
  • DON’T let salt levels get too low. Adequate salt stops limescale build up.
  • DON’T overuse detergent as it can leave a residue on your items.
  • DO keep your paperwork. Having to search for the manual if something goes wrong is never helpful. Also, if your dishwasher is new and came with a warrantee, make sure you register it online straight away (or complete instructions as per your appliance) and keep the paperwork so that you are always covered.


Remembering all of these tips every time you load a domestic or commercial dishwasher might be a bit too much to ask, but we hope you might take away a few helpful hints from this article that will ensure your dishwasher has a long and happy life, cleaning as many dishes as possible.

If you need any help with repairing, servicing or replacing your equipment in London and the home counties, don’t forget that PHS’ dishwasher engineers are only a call away!