Dishwashers make cleaning up after meals convenient. No more quarreling over whose turn it is to wash the dishes, and no more squabbling over dirty dishes left in the sink. The dishwasher makes easy work out of dirty dishes, and cleans them with very little effort on your part.
However, the way you load a dishwasher matters. Plates and bowls need to be facing a certain direction for a thorough, proper cleaning, and same goes for utensils, cups, and other dishes. A properly loaded dishwasher ensures your dinnerware is void of all dirt and grime as the machine can wash these dishes without hindrance. Here's how to load a dishwasher:
How to Load a Dishwasher
Most dishwashers have two racks: a top rack and a bottom rack. Some may even have three racks, which is the top, middle, and the bottom rack. Nevertheless, different dinnerware goes into different racks as they will undergo different levels of care in the machine.
The top rack is where the utensil basket is, so it is where the utensils go to get cleaned properly. Spoons and forks should be placed with the functional side up, while placing knives facing downward. Avoid crowding the utensils, and keep a short distance between them for the soap and water to run through.
Small bowls, mugs, cups, and oddly-shaped dishes also go on the top rack. Place them facing downward, with their bottoms up. Doing so will allow the jet of water to reach through all your dishes on the top rack.
If your machine has a middle rack, then this is where you can place moderately-sized items: bowls, mugs, and jars. Some dishwasher models with a middle rack will only have the silverware basket as the upper rack, dividing the usual contents of the top rack into a utensil rack and a middle rack.
The middle rack can clean large utensils as well, and is perfect for washing stainless steel cooking utensils like tongs, cooking spoons, stainless steel spatulas, and the like. Cup saucers and small dessert plates can also go on the middle rack.
The bottom rack is where heavier items go. Dishwasher-safe pots, pans, plates, and large bowls go into this rack. However, you must be careful not to block the spray arm of the machine. These rotating spray arms shoot jets of water from the water heater onto your dishes, cleaning them in the process. Blocking them can damage your dishes.
The bottom rack is also where you place heavy baking dishes, flat pans, and more. Make sure you angle the dishes bottoms up, where water cannot pool in the concaves of your dishes. At the same time, make sure the water can access every side of your plates and dinnerware so it can properly clean your dishes.
For plates and other flat dishes, make use of the dividers in the racks to keep your dishes standing upright. This will give your machine the best angle to get your dishes cleaned evenly and properly. Angle the plates on their side!
Do's and Don'ts in Loading a Dishwasher
- Do arrange your dishwasher load properly. You don't want to end up opening the dishwasher after a full cycle, only to find food bits stuck to the plates, and streaks of hard water stains or soap scum on your utensils.
- Do optimize your dishwasher cycle. Dishwashers take a lot of energy to clean your plates, so optimize each cycle by loading it up with an appropriate amount of dishes before using. If you're only washing one or two dishes, consider hand washing them instead.
- Do hand wash wooden items and nonstick cookware. They have no place in your dishwasher as they may warp, melt, or disintegrate. Wash these by hand instead.
- Do use dishwasher detergents. Regular dishwashing liquid will make a bubbly mess, and dishwasher-safe cleaners are meant to clean dishes without creating too much suds to overflow the machine.
- Do not rinse dishes prior to placing them in the dishwasher. Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to rinse your plates before placing them in the dishwasher. Remove the large chunks of food, and wash away!
- Do not place flimsy plastic containers in the dishwasher. Unless the plastic is dishwasher-safe, placing flimsy plastic items in the dishwasher may shrink or melt them, depending on the material. This is most true for a dishwasher with a heating element or for hot water cycles.
- Do not place fragile sets in your dishwasher. Unless the dishes are labeled dishwasher-safe, it is best to wash your fine China by hand instead.
- Do not wash sharp knives in the dishwasher as these may dull, as well as pierce through other dishes. They may also scratch the dishwasher door when improperly loaded into the machine.
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