How to Load a Dishwasher – and Why It Matters


clean-dishwasher-naturally-800x800Are you one of those people who think it really doesn’t matter how you load a dishwasher? For us thrifty, time-conscious perfectionists, it does matter – though we would never disown a friend or divorce a spouse over it.

No, I’m not advocating the unique loading system in the picture to the left. While I don’t have a Scripture text to support my “dogma”, this may be a helpful post for someone out there who needs moral support in their dish washing fetish – or to someone who wonders why they are always eating on washed dishes with sterilized food particles firmly stuck on.

Over the years we’ve had lots of house guests; for meals, for overnights and for extended periods of time. I enjoy offering hospitality that includes food – either snacks or a full meal. And I always appreciate it when my guests offer to help clean up after the food – well, maybe not “always”.

You see, I have very definite ideas for the proper way to load a dishwasher and very good, well-thought-out reasons for those loading procedures. My concept of proper dishwasher loading takes into consideration efficiency, thrift, hygiene, and longevity for my tableware. Let me share some of my dishwasher processes.

       Rinsing Food-encrusted Dishes

Rinse the dishes before loading. It doesn’t matter if it’s done under a running faucet or in a water-filled sink, if you are concerned about your water bill. There is nothing worse than finding food stuck on a dish or an eating utensil after the dishwasher has been run, I don’t care how sterilized they are. Somebody had that fork in his mouth. That stuck-on gravy was served 4 days ago.

A friend suggested that I skip the rinsing and run all loads on the pots-n-pans cycle. But feeling there is a reason for the various cycles on a dishwasher – such as preserving the colorful design or the glaze on your stoneware or your best china – I didn’t take her advice.

       The Loading Process

I always load from the back to the front of the top rack. There are several reasons for this. 1. The top rack of my dishwasher will come off the track on the back end if I load the front end first, and it’s a real hassle to get it back on track. 2. It’s easier to see how full the rack already is without having to pull it all the way out. So, the rack wears better and my loading time is faster. 3. I don’t have to search for a place to fit the last cup in, if I load from back to front on the top rack.

Allow enough space around the dishes to insure full coverage from the water spray mechanism onto the dishes. Don’t load dishes on top of other dishes if you want them clean (this is especially important if you don’t take time to rinse them first.) Also, load dishes in a way that allows them to drain well on the inside part where the food or beverage is to be served. You don’t want to serve dishwasher detergent with your meal because the dish was not rinsed or drained properly. I have discovered detergent scum on a dish, cup or bowl that was loaded near the detergent dispenser on the bottom rack, and positioned so that it could not be rinsed and drained well.

Don’t wash wooden spoons, wooden bowls, etc. in the dishwasher, particularly if the item is made of fine wood, or has a finish on its surface. Don’t wash things on the bottom rack that may melt by being near the heating element, such as those made of soft plastic. Our hot water is very hot, and so is the heated-drying element.

Loading the dishwasher well also facilitates the unloading process. For instance, I separate knives, forks and spoons in the utensil rack which makes a faster job of unloading into the utensil separators in the drawer where they are stored. (I also separate forks, knives, and spoons by size in the drawer to make table setting at meal times easier and faster.)

I wash dishes on the “hi- temp” setting and allow them to air-dry to save on electricity.

       Partial Loads

I don’t run partial loads – the dishwasher has to be full. Running a half-empty dishwasher uses more water.  If you pay for town water it will affect your pocketbook; if you have your own well, it could deplete your water supply in a dry season. Partial loads must be done more often, which results in more electricity for running the washer, more fuel for heating the water, and more work for the septic system (unless you are on the town sewer system – which might involve a wastewater charge).

By the way, I only use dishwasher (and laundry) detergent that are safe for our septic system; the natural bacteria in the septic is not destroyed – hence, better to break down the waste that ends up in the septic holding tank. This also results in fewer visits from the septic waste removal truck.

       Unloading the Dishwasher:

Unloading the dishwasher is also by design. I always unload the bottom rack first to avoid splashing water that may have settled on the cups, glasses, or bowels which were washed on the top rack. In this way there is less towel-drying of the things on the bottom rack, which usually have drained well from the washing process.

Because I do not use the “hi-temp dry” setting, I do a quick wipe on surfaces that might have accumulated water.  To avoid any bacteria growth that could develop on stacked wet surfaces, I don’t put dishes on my shelves with water on them.

By the way, make sure to change your dishtowels often and hang them so that they dry thoroughly between uses.

You might think I’m being picky about my dishwasher routine, but I hope you have picked up some pointers on efficient use of the dishwasher. (Or perhaps you have decided to use paper plates and plastic ware for all your meals?)

We all need to care for this planet which God created, preserving its resources for future generations. And we all need to be good stewards of the material blessings in our possession. Happy dishwashing!

©2013, Marcy Alves

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About Marcy

I love my Father-God. Together we are walking through a season of my life where I am standing with him against cancer. He is my strength and trust. As one of his daughters, my passion is to share his love with others in practical, everyday illustrations and insights.

Posted on August 22, 2013, in Follow Me, Humor, My Journey and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Terri Schreffler

    Living alone I don’t run my dishwasher too often. Therefore I’ve gotten creative and test some things. I humor myself when there is extra space and wash things I put in the recycle. Eg: mayo and peanut butter jars, pickle jars and believe it or not…styrofome. I’ve washed the ones that come home from the resturant and just plain plates. If those plates weren’t dented from use they could go back in the package, they look so clean. I wash them on the bottom rack, too and I air dry everything. I hardly ever use the pots and pans cycle. The thing I do differently is the silverware. They go in heads up, but I keep them separated from each other so they don’t “spoon.” I enjoyed your blog. Hugs.

  2. Thank for the article, Your article help me alot.

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