What your dishwasher stacking says about you

Cutlery up or down? Tetris-like precision or just chuck everything in? The dishwasher debate rages on…

Is there a right or wrong way to stack your dishwasher? According to experts at Birmingham University, the answer is yes.

The problem is that we all think our own particular way is best, leading to countless after-dinner rows and secret re-stacking sessions after the rest of the family has gone to bed.


Here, we take a (not-so) scientific look at what our dishwasher stacking techniques might reveal about human nature.

The 'just-chuck-everything-in' approach

Who wants to spend their life doing boring chores when you've got a machine that'll do it for you? Just-chuck-everything-inners are full of the joys of life, so when it comes to stacking dishwashers, they just want to get it done as quickly as possible then get on with having a nice time, thank you very much.

Pros: It takes next to no time to get the dishwasher loaded.

Cons: Your washing up won't get properly washed up, which means you'll spend more time on the task in the long run, either hand-washing half of it or running it through the cycle again – an unforgivable crime against energy efficiency!

Worse still, if you're just shoving things in willy-nilly, you won't be able to fit as much in as you could, which means you're wasting even more energy. Think of the environment and your electricity bill!

The 'everything in its right place' approach

You have a methodical mind that gets a kick out of things being orderly and efficient. For you, tackling the dishwasher is a Tetris-like puzzle game, in which the winner manages to fit in as much as possible while ensuring that everything comes out undamaged and sparkling clean.

Pros: Heavily stained items like sauce pans or egg yolk-encrusted plates are more likely to come out clean if you place them on the bottom rack near the most powerful jets. Delicate items like glasses are less likely to get damaged if you place them further up. And that's not to mention the immense satisfaction of a job well done.

Cons: You may not be able to put the dishwasher on as soon you need to if you're patiently waiting to slot in that final piece in the puzzle. Also, does it really matter if small plates and big plates aren’t stacked neatly on separate sides of the dishwasher? They’ll come out perfectly washed either way. Let it go!

The 'cutlery down' approach

You're a safety-conscious soul who cares about the wellbeing of others. You would never dream of leaving a knife facing upwards. What if the person unloading the dishwasher got cut??

Pros: Risk of cuts is reduced to zero and you won't have to touch the eating end of the cutlery when you unload, which is a big bonus for germophobes.

Cons: The water is less able to circulate if the dirty ends of the cutlery are packed in side by side, so chances are you’ll have to rewash some of it.

The 'no-pans' approach

You treasure your possessions and like to keep them in tip-top condition. You may well be a keen cook, and the idea of your precious chopping knives going through the dishwasher and getting all rusted up fills you with horror. Other items that purists wouldn't dream of dishwashing include wood, china, crystal, cast iron and non-stick pans.

Pros: Your kitchenware will stay pristine for longer.

Cons: You’ll have to wash a lot of things by hand which, let's face it, is pretty tedious when you could just shove them in a magic cupboard that washes things for you.

The ‘no-rinse’ approach

You're a trusting person who has absolute faith in other people to do what they say they are going to do. The same applies to technology – but there your faith may be misplaced. Waterproof cameras have revealed that the water jets in many dishwashers are erratic at best, so if you put a crusty shepherd's pie dish in your dishwasher without rinsing it first, you can probably expect to see most of that pie still on the dish after the cycle’s ended.

Pros: Super-fast stacking speed.

Cons: You’ll end up hand-washing bits of food off everything – not just the offending unrinsed item, but also the things it's contaminated. Plus someone will have the delightful job of picking bits of manky old food out of the dishwasher filter when it gets clogged up.

Of course there's one important issue we haven't addressed yet, and that's who refills the dishwasher salt and rinse aid?

But that's a whole other battle, which we'll get round to settling just as soon as we've agreed on who last replaced the toothpaste or changed the toilet roll…

Millie Hurst
Senior Content Editor

Millie Hurst was Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home from 2020-2022, and is now Section Editor at Homes & Gardens. Before stepping into the world of interiors, she worked as a Senior SEO Editor for News UK in both London and New York. You can usually find her looking up trending terms and finding real-life budget makeovers our readers love. Millie came up with the website's daily dupes article which gives readers ways to curate a stylish home for less.