Your dishwasher might just be your best friend in the kitchen, but to make sure it performs its best, you’ll need to load it properly. Overloading or improper loading can significantly reduce cleaning performance, so let this guide take you through the best approach to loading your dishwasher.
Before you load
There’s a common misconception that you have to thoroughly pre-rinse your dishes and cutlery before putting them in your dishwasher, which leads some to think that they might as well just handwash their crockery.
Aside from being more water and energy efficient than handwashing, dishwashers don’t require dishes to be sparkling clean before they go in. Simply scrape away and leftovers and large food bits, and your appliance will take care of the rest.
It is always worth having a glance inside your dishwasher before you load it though, just to make sure that no items fell into the dishwasher tub during the previous cycle.
A “do” and a “don’t”
There are some who even call it an art. But, there are two basic rules to loading a dishwasher properly.
1. Place everything facing the middle and
2. Don’t let things touch (as much as you can)
We could add a third saying "don’t overload" but the second rule should take care of that one. These two simple routines make sure that every item in the dishwasher gets an equal exposure to water and that their surfaces are turned towards the direction of water spray.
Loading the top rack
Top rack is for cups, mugs and glasses and small bowls. Position these items upside down along either side of the rack so the water can get inside.
The top rack will often have tines (the long, thin pegs to hold items in place) for small bowls. Make sure the bowls are loaded with those in the front half of the basket facing back and those on the back half are facing the front. This makes sure the inner surfaces of the bowls are exposed to the water flow.
Avoid crowding, which basically means blocking or obscuring any surface from the spray arms’ reach. Everything should be sitting comfortably in the rack, not too loose that they can move around, not too tight that they might creak or crack.
You can also put small or medium pots and pans on the top rack, but obviously make sure these are facing downwards. Your top rack might feature a utensil rack which folds down from the side. Lay spatulas, ladles and other long utensils here, making sure any concaved surfaces face downward. If your dishwasher doesn’t have a utensil rack, simply lay these in between rows of cups or glasses on the top rack. Remember though, wooden utensils and good kitchen knives should never go in the dishwasher.
Using the cutlery basket
There are a few points to consider when it comes to loading the cutlery basket. Firstly, be aware that stainless steel and silver can react in the dishwasher, and cause damage to silverware. Make sure these are at opposite ends of the cutlery basket.
Don’t group the same type of cutlery—mix it up! Cutlery of the same type has a tendency to “nest”, especially spoons. This means water can’t get to all the surfaces of the items.
One sure-fire way to avoid this is to use the slots in the lids which fold over most cutlery baskets. The trade-off here is that it’s fiddlier and takes longer to load and unload your cutlery.
And finally, knives go head down! For safety, place knives with the blades facing down and handles sticking out.
Modern dishwashers offer various additional racks and flexibility solutions. The sliding third rack for cutlery has become more and more popular for the benefit that it opens room on the lower basket. Technologies like FlexiDrawer™ add further flexibility to loading your dishwasher.
Loading the bottom rack
This is where your larger plates and bowls will go, as well as larger pots and pans. Often, you’ll be wanting to put a combination of the items in. Plates and bowls should be positioned so they face the middle of the dishwasher, which makes sure they’re properly exposed to the spray arms. Use the tines on the bottom rack to position these properly.
If your bottom rack has folding tines, these can be useful for making room for awkward items like large pots and pans. Again, make sure the inner surfaces of these are facing the spray arm.
Finally, any large, flat items like chopping boards or platters should go along the side of the rack so they don’t get in the way of the spray arms.
So, now that you’ve loaded your dishwasher properly, you can pop in some detergent, select your programme, and put your feet up while your appliance takes care of all that hard work for you!
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