Any dishwasher owner will tell you how great dishwashers are at saving time and effort, and many will agree that this appliance is a staple in any kitchen. And while dishwashers are beneficial and can save time, effort, water and money in the long-run, some of us may not load our dishwashers properly, and we may not therefore get the most out of them.
This guide will educate dishwasher users on how to load a dishwasher sufficiently, offering tips and guidance to get the most out of this essential appliance. These methods can help save room, and can allow the dishwasher to clean dishes to the best of its ability.
- Scrape off any food debris
Before loading the dishwasher, it’s important to remove any large bits of food debris (leftovers, bones, rice, peelings or corn-cobs etc.) by scraping them into the bin or garbage disposal unit.
- Pre-rinse dishes, but only if the cycle isn’t running just yet
Pre-rinsing is only necessary if your dishwasher isn’t cleaning them as efficiently, or if you’re not running the cycle straight away. You don’t want dishes to sit around for hours as the food can harden, making it more difficult to remove, and it can create an unpleasant odour.
However, many argue that detergents actually work better when they have stuff to remove, and pre-rinsing is believed to waste more than 6,000 gallons of water per household each year.
- Securely fit the plates into the bottom rack slots
Make sure the plates are facing inwards so the spray can reach them and clean them, and the slots are measured so that each plate can be cleaned efficiently, so don’t try to place plates in between the slots.
- Place pots, pans and deeper dishes on the bottom rack, making sure they’re faced down
Pots, pans and deeper dishes should be faced down so that the insides are cleaned effectively.
It’s important to know your limits and not try to overload them, or they won’t clean properly.
Some people prefer to wash pots and pans by hand if there are too many to fit in the dishwasher.
- Chopping boards should be placed on the outside of the bottom rack
If there’s room in the plate slots then chopping boards can be placed there, but if not they should be slotted on the outside of the bottom rack standing up.
Some chopping boards aren’t designed for dishwasher use, and some can be damaged by the heat, which is why some people prefer to wash them by hand.
- Put all cutlery into the cutlery basket provided
Dishwashers provide a basket especially for cutlery, and here they should be placed handle-down with enough space between them for the water to distribute evenly. There are different compartments for knives, forks and spoons, and many have a specific section for teaspoons.
- Longer utensils and sharp knives should lay down flat on the top rack
Sharp knives can become a hazard when faced up in the cutlery basket, which is why they may be best laid flat on the top rack. It’s advised that you hand wash good kitchen knives to prevent damage, especially if they have wooden or laminated handles.
Likewise, larger utensils such as spatulas or ladles can block the spray and interfere with the dishwasher’s features, so they should also be laid flat on the top rack.
- Place any bowls, mugs and glasses on the top rack
The top rack is designed so that bowls, mugs and glasses can easily be slotted face down. This allows the insides to be cleaned effectively, and it also means that they can drain well.
- Also put any plastic items or Tupperware on the top rack
The heat from the dishwasher could melt plastic if placed on the bottom rack, which is why it’s important to slot them onto the top shelf faced down. This also allows them to drain just like the bowls, mugs and glasses.
- Fill the soap container with a detergent of your choice
Whether you prefer tablets, powder or liquid detergent, you must fill the allocated container before. Some dishwashers have 2 soap containers, but it isn’t always necessary to fill this one as well.
Unless your dishes are very dirty, you might be better off just filling one of the containers, or using a lower, equal amount in both. This will make the detergent last longer.
- If your dishwasher has a rinse agent feature then fill this part with the rinse agent until you reach the marker
Some dishwashers are fitted with a feature for rinse agents such as vinegar or ‘Jet-Dry’, and this can be found out in the dishwasher manual or labels. However, this feature is generally unnecessary if your water is naturally soft anyway, or if you already use a water softener.
- Close the dishwasher door and following your specific dishwasher’s instructions to run the cycle
After you’ve closed the soap container, you can now close the dishwasher door and begin your cycle. Dishwashers are different, and the instructions depend on your make, but there’s usually a dial to select the cycle type and a start button. There are often different cycles to choose from, but users often just select a ‘normal cycle’.
- Make sure your items are dishwasher-friendly – Some materials such as wood, stainless steel or cast iron cannot be put in the dishwasher, so it’s important to check labels first.
- Don’t overload your dishwasher – If the dishwasher is jam packed, then nothing will clean properly as the spray won’t be able to reach everywhere.
- Don’t stack items – Stacking dishes will prevent them from being cleaned properly, and the spray won’t be able to reach them
- Don’t place fragile, breakable items next to each other – The vibrations from the dishwasher can cause friction, allowing them to break easily.
- Only pre-rinse if you need to – If you’re about to run the cycle anyway, you don’t need to pre-rinse the dishes.
- Some suggest running hot water into your sink before running the dishwasher cycle – Although dishwashers heat the water up well, they may run better and clean more effectively if the water is already hot.
- If your sink has a garbage disposal, it might be wise to run this before running the dishwasher cycle – As many dishwashers drain into the same pipe as the sink, it’s important to clear that pipe. If you don’t have a disposal unit, you could use a strainer to catch any debris.
- Don’t stock up on detergent – While dishwasher detergents are good, they need to be reasonably fresh, and it’s advised that you only buy 2-months-worth at a time.
- Store your detergent properly – Detergent should be stored in a cool, dry place, otherwise it can get clumpy and start to deteriorate.