I pride myself in maximum efficiency when it comes to loading dishwashers, so much so that I’m sure I could beat the records in those dishwasher commercials where the see how many dishes they can fit. With most new models, they can handle being jammed packed full and still be able to clean all of the dishes well, but for those of you with lower end and older models, that’s not quite true. After living with an older, less expensive model dishwasher, I’ve learned a few tricks to load the dishwasher so all of the dishes come out clean, on the first wash.

  1. Do not overload the dishwasher
    Unfortunately, older and lower end dishwashers cannot handle every single dish you own in one load. The dishwasher really does need the space between each dish to clean effectively.
  2. Leave a 1-2 inch gap between dishes
    For a long time I figured I just needed to rinse my bowls really well to get them clean in the dishwasher. False, I just needed to provide more space in between each one to allow water and the dish detergent to do their magic.


    There’s about a one inch space between each bowl since I put them in every other tine.

  3. Cups go between the tines, not over
    In the top rack of the dishwasher, the tines are space so that most cups, even wide-mouthed ones, will fit between the tines so you can have two rows next to each other.
  4. Dishes should face toward the middle
    Typically in older and lower end models, the sprayer is in the middle and the water sprays out towards the walls of the dishwasher. With all of the dishes facing the middle, the water is able to hit the eating surface of the dish better, washing away the food you’re trying to get off.


    The tines are designed to encourage placing the placement of the dishes towards the middle.

  5. Mix the silverware and place handle up
    If you’re trying to be efficient by putting all of the spoons in one spot, forks in another and knives all by themselves, then your silverware might not get clean on the first try. Why? As these like items like to stack nicely in the drawer, the same thing will happen in the dishwasher. Mix the silverware together and they won’t stack so water can flow around them freely. And placing them handle up will allow you to grab them by the handle so you don’t grab and immediately dirty up the eating end.
  6. Wash regular dishes and large dishes separately
    This means washing your mixing bowls, casserole dishes and large pans in their own wash. This way you can get the dishes you eat off clean first, removing the majority of the dish clutter. Plus, this allows for your big dishes to get the most amount of space and water flow around them. Potentially this can also allow you to do two loads instead of three mixed loads.


    Taking out the rack and placing large pots in by them selves allows for better water flow. P.S. Some pots and pans are not dishwasher safe, like mine. Don’t tell my husband, I might sometimes put them in when I don’t want to hand wash them.

  7. Take the silverware bucket out
    If you’re just washing big dishes and no silverware, take that bucket out of the dishwasher to allow you to stick another dish in or to allow the existing dishes a little extra room.

These tips took me a while to assemble as I became frustrated with the state of my dishes, but now they come out sparkling clean every time. A few other tips to make you dishes come out clean on the first try is to clean your dishwasher periodically, food and grime build up can stop your dishwasher from cleaning efficiently. I would also make sure you are using the right kind of detergent for your dishwasher, some liquid detergents can clog certain machines and others require the tablets only. Check your user manual for your machines specific soap requirements.

How do you load your dishwasher?


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26 Responses to How to Load the Dishwasher {so all of the dishes come out clean}

  1. Great tips Angela – I’m passing this onto my family. Finger’s crossed they listen!

  2. Lillace Christianson says:

    Hi, Angela! Great tips! I’ve also found that using less detergent helps a bunch. I use one to two tablespoons in the regular cup, depending on the load, and about a teaspoon of detergent in the extra cup. Dishes come out clean without the cloudy spots. Hope your new year is going beautifully!

  3. Michelle says:

    Oh my goodness! Can’t believe I came across a blog post about dishwasher loading. My husband absolutely hates the way I load the dishwasher. It’s a family joke. Thanks for sharing. I am going to forward your post to him. 🙂

  4. Kat Ryan says:

    What a great post!! I just printed this out and gave to my oldest (who’s job it is to fill the dishwasher). I am not the only one that has to fill it a certain way. The only thing that I do differently, is that I wash my silver eating side up. This way nothing can get trapped in the tub where we will be putting it in our mouths. HOWEVER, my silver is in the door, and has a flip down side, so you still pick it up by the handle.
    Thanks so much

    • Thank you! I’m quite flattered that you printed this out for your oldest child. I put some of my large mixing spoons in with the silverware and put them handle down, because that’s the only way they’ll fit and I want to make sure all of the dead food is removed.

  5. I need to show this to my husband! I know I shouldn’t complain since he does load the dishwasher of his own free will, but I always have to go behind him! Great tips 🙂

  6. Great tips. I’ll be passing along these tips to my oldest son, our resident dish washer. Hopefully, he’ll listen to you. I found you at Yesterfood’s Treasure Box Tuesday

  7. Take the silverware bucket out–genius! Our dishwasher drives me crazy; it seems to resist efficient loading on purpose to drive me crazy 😉

    • Thanks Gretchen. I take the bucket out to unload the silverware and that’s when it finally dawned on me to take it out for larger dish loads. I hope this helps your crazy dishwasher. 🙂

  8. Danielle says:

    Hey thanks for the tips!

  9. you are brilliant … I KNEW the cups were supposed to go between the tines – you will help me win the ongoing dispute! don’t you think the people who design dishes and the people who design dishwashers should consult each other periodically?!?

  10. Me and the husband always argue on this. great tips now i can prove i’m right. Thanks for sharing at The Weekend Retreat!

  11. […] my Husband will be so happy to see a post about How to Load the Dishwasher by Angela Says.  He truly believes there is a science to this and normally won’t even let […]

  12. Sara says:

    Thanks for the tips. My dishes are always coming out dirty :/

    I would love to have you hop over and share with us at Tell Me About It Tuesday!

  13. […] Credit: (Top Left) Sunshine Ceramics // (Top Right) Angela Says // (Bottom) Mom 4 […]

  14. George @ Dishwashers guide says:

    I totally agree!

    What an amazing guide, Angela. 🙂

    You’d never believe how many people are loading the dishwasher the wrong way!

    I get emails every week from people asking why their dishwasher is inefficient – and this is 90% of the times the cause (improper loading).

  15. Ben chris says:

    Loading the dishes is a very important task in the dishwasher. If you didn’t load the dishes in the washer properly it will harm your dishwasher badly.

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