You might have read in The Sunday Times yesterday that on average, more than 40% of couples argue over loading their dishwasher. Whilst this may not come as a surprise (and to many will sound familiar), appliance manufacturer Bosch have come up with a Tetris-style game to ‘teach’ people how to load a dishwasher.
Having tried out this ‘Dishwasher game’ I’m in no way convinced it will actually teach people the best practice for loading a dishwasher…But it does highlight the seemingly bizarre fact that 40% of us are struggling with this run-of-the-mill task, when it really shouldn’t be difficult! I place myself firmly in this category given I grew up with a Dad and brother constantly complaining over the way my mum and I attempted to load our dishwasher; And my Dad would hasten to reposition every plate, cup, bowl or fork either of us ever added! This is a grievance which has continued long into adulthood, except it is now my husband who berates me for my poor dishwasher stacking skills!
Does how you load a dishwasher matter?
Given it is such a widespread grumble, I have today taken the time to fully research how you should load a dishwasher. In doing so I realised what I had been missing, or just didn’t care enough to notice all these years, which is the reasons why it matters that you load a dishwasher correctly! So as an apology to the men in my life, and in the hope it will save the same old argument among others, here are the “do’s and don’ts” for stacking a dishwasher- and why getting it right matters!*
* Please note you should always follow your manufacturer’s recommendations when loading your dishwasher.
How to load a dishwasher: “The Do’s”
- Always check the intended items are dishwasher approved and safe. This will prevent chips or breakages. Dishwasher-safe plastics should be placed in the top drawer to prevent warping.
- Scrape off excess food before putting anything in the dishwasher, to avoid large pieces of food waste causing blockages.
- Place cups and glasses within the top drawer. These should nestle between the prongs (tines) rather than sit on top of them, otherwise the prong can leave a water mark. Cups and glasses should also be placed upside down and at an angle so that the water spray will clean them inside and out, before running clear of them.
- Glasses should not touch one another otherwise they can chip or break.
- Stack plates by size and facing the same way; facing the centre will get them cleanest.
- Breakfast, soup and dipping bowls should be placed in the top drawer at a downward angle and with space between them. The bowls at the back should face forwards, and bowls in the front should face backwards to allow clear water flow in and around them. Larger bowls such as mixing bowls should be placed within the lower dishwasher drawer.
- Large kitchen utensils should be laid horizontally on the top rack. This is the best place to avoid them falling through the rack and obstructing the dishwasher’s spinning spray arm.
- With the exception of sharp knives, cutlery should be stored in the basket with butter knives blade side down, whilst forks and spoon should be varied. Whilst the ‘business-end’ facing downwards is a safer option, forks can damage and split the plastic base of the cutlery container, and so general advice* is to vary the mix. This also avoids forks and spoons from nesting together, a feat which prevents them being properly cleaned.
- Where possible set your cycle to 60 degrees. This is the optimum temperature for the best results (though this varies between manufacturer so you should check the recommendations within your appliance manual.
- After a cycle, empty the bottom drawer first to avoid drips from the top drawer.
How to load a dishwasher: “The Don’ts”
- Load a dishwasher, and don’t run a half-empty cycle. Running a full dishwasher is more economical and will save on water and electricity costs.
- But also don’t overfill it. This includes stacking items such as bowls or pans on top of each other. This will block water flow and your dishes will come out dirty.
- You should scrape off excess food, but don’t rinse the plates before you load a dishwasher, unless you aren’t putting the cycle on straight away. Otherwise it is simply a waste of water.
- Do not put crystal glasses, cast iron or ceramics into the dishwasher as there is a risk of damage.
- Don’t load a dishwasher at random; think about what you’re doing…This is the crux of the problem as people (like me) tend to complete the task on autopilot and without really thinking about how their doing it!…Or what might not work if they don’t do it right!
Load a dishwasher safely
**As discussed, how to load a dishwasher has long been a bone of contention among different members of the same household. But one factor that should never be compromised is the user’s safety. This is of most importance when it comes to loading a dishwasher with knives and cutlery. Knives with the blade facing upwards in a cutlery basket, and where the dishwasher is left open, represent a lethal trip hazard.
Fortunately casualties of this nature are an extremely rare occurrence. But even if they don’t cause harm to people, down-facing knives and forks can easily damage the basket they are contained in. For such reasons newer dishwasher models such as those by Siemens Neff and Bosch have produced a replacement for these baskets in the form of a cutlery tray above the top drawer. This VarioDrawer offers a tidy yet safe place for each and every item of cutlery, as well as other everyday kitchen utensils and small dishes.
Optional extras for dishwashers
Neff, Siemens and Bosch appliance manufacturers also offer VarioFlexPlus rack/basket systems for dishwashers, which include a height adjustable top basket, and foldable plate racks in the top and bottom baskets. These solutions provide more space for loading, along with additional stability for your dishwasher’s contents. Finally, you can safeguard your glassware with optional extras such as secure holders. All of these options are intended as safe, convenient extras which will make loading a dishwasher easy to do right… and hopefully reduce the number of household arguments in the process!
Please note that LWK Kitchens cannot supply appliances separate from a kitchen furniture order, but we will gladly offer further advice and information on choosing and using a dishwasher, or else any other appliance. Please feel free to email or call us on 020 7536 9266 if you have any questions.