Are you loading your dishwasher all wrong? This is the right way, according to experts

Cutlery up or down? Tetris-like precision or just chuck everything in? What's the right way? All is revealed…

Is there a right or wrong way to stack the dishwasher? As we all think our own particular way is best, this simple task can lead to countless after-dinner rows and secret re-stacking sessions after the rest of the family has gone to bed.

We ask expert Charles Bernstein at Hotpoint to offer a professional opinion on how to load the dishwasher for optimum cleaning results.

Related: Is the viral dishwasher tablet hack damaging your washing machine? – We ask the experts

Given that Charles is the Category and Trade Marketing Manager for Dishwashers, we trust that he knows the 'correct' way...

How to load the dishwasher for best results

silver kitchen cabinet silver dishwasher and wooden flooring

(Image credit: Hotpoint)

'Loading your dishwasher correctly is paramount to ensuring that it is able to work effectively. As overfilling or placing items in the wrong location, and at the wrong angle, can result in poor wash results and items not drying by the time the programme has finished,' Charles explains.

'When loading the dishwasher, it is important that items are separated properly. As opposed to being piled on top of each other, to allow the spray arms and jets inside the dishwasher to effectively target all areas. '

'What’s more, it is always important to ensure that there is nothing obstructing the spray arms – which will prevent them from rotating freely. For example a long spoon, the handle of a frying pan, or an oversized plate.'

Interestingly he advises, 'Mixing cutlery, instead of grouping the same types together, is recommended as this will make it easier for the water to reach all areas.'

'In addition to this, cutlery should be alternated with some handles placed upwards and some placed downwards. It is vital that all items loaded into the dishwasher are placed in the right angle, to ensure that they are washed and dried effectively.'

'If items such as cups and bowls are placed vertically into the dishwasher, water will collect inside and they will remain wet after the cycle is finished.'

What goes on the top rack of a dishwasher?

dishwashers inside with cups and plates

(Image credit: Hotpoint)

 'Items such as cups and glasses, as well as small bowls, are best placed on the top rack of the dishwasher. When it comes to long kitchen utensils, such as spatulas and serving spoons, these are most effectively cleaned when loaded at the side of the upper rack.'

He goes on to say, 'What’s more, to protect dishwasher-safe plastics, they should always be placed on the top rack of the dishwasher, away from any heat sources.'

What goes on the bottom rack of a dishwasher?

dishwashers inside plates and spoons

(Image credit: Hotpoint)

'Larger items including plates, serving bowls, pots and frying pans should be placed on the bottom rack of the dishwasher,' Charles explains.

'With items such as dishwasher-safe chopping boards and serving dishes placed at the back and along the sides, to ensure that water can flow freely and reach all areas of the appliance.'

'Items such as containers, bowls and cups should all be placed face down, and the same goes for heavily soiled items, which are always best loaded on the bottom rack, as water pressure is higher in this part of the appliance and therefore has a stronger cleaning capacity.'

Related: Are we vacuuming all wrong? Leading experts reveal how to get best results

'Research shows 71 per cent of dishwasher owners admit they run the appliance when it is not fully loaded•.

'Not only does this lead to a higher consumption of water and energy than washing a full load, it costs users more in electricity bills. As a result, dishwashers that offer specialised programmes to target certain areas of the appliance are a significant advantage in the home.

Charles stresses 'dishwasher manufacturers provide details of any special loading instructions inside the instruction manual, therefore it is important that this document is referred to.'

1 Source: GfK Eurisko Usage & Habits study (IT, UK, D, FR) Nov. 2015


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.