Sears Knowledge Center

How to Properly Load your Dishwasher

There are many ways to load your dishwasher, and there are more efficient options than just your personal preferences. It's important to be mindful of how you organize your dishware on the racks before running a cycle so you can protect your dishes, maximize space and run your dishwasher less often. Knowing how and where to load certain kitchen items can also help ensure that the water stream and suds reach and clean every piece of dishware to perfection. Below are some tips, tricks and techniques for loading your dishwasher.


Pre-rinse when necessary

Not all dishes need to be pre-rinsed, and some dishwashers can remove food even after it has hardened and dried. You'll need to get to know your dishwasher and its capabilities to determine the best settings. As you use your dishwasher more often, you'll learn which foods require you to rinse and soak your dishes before loading. When you pre-rinse, it's best to do it immediately after your meals so excess food doesn't have the chance to stick and harden. That way, you can avoid heavy scrubbing on dishes before loading them into the dishwasher.


Load large items on bottom

Pots, pans, and large bowls should always face open-side down for a better clean and to ensure that they don't fill up with water and prevent a full dry. Larger pans like skillets can sit on the dishwasher's side on the far back or outer edges of the bottom rack outside of the tines.


Use tines to align dishware

Use the tines to hold your plates, and make sure dishes face inward and downward so the water stream reaches every surface. You'll also want to avoid placing large pots in front of plates for optimal cleaning.


Load small items on top

Cups, glasses and bowls should all be placed downward on the top rack. Fit your cups in between tines instead of over them to maximize space. Tupperware and anything plastic should also go on the top rack, as the heat can melt and warp plastic items on the bottom. Some utensils, like serving spoons, spatulas and long pieces of cutlery can prevent the water from reaching every part of the top rack when placed in the cutlery basket. Instead, these items should be placed horizontally on the top rack in between tines. 


Fill your cutlery basket

Utensils should be placed conveniently in compartments in the cutlery basket. Distribute silverware evenly amongst compartments to separate soiled surfaces and ensure that they all get cleaned. Putting the same type of utensil in the same bin often causes them to nest in one another and prevents an all-around clean. Instead of dishwashing sharp knives, always wash them by hand to prevent blades from dulling after multiple washes.


Make sure breakables aren't touching

You might feel satisfied if you can fit all of your dishware in one load, but the vibration during a running cycle can cause fragile dishes to break if they're piled on top of one another. Keeping them separate will ensure that they are safely placed in your dishwasher.


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