It’s an age-old debate in households around the country: how to best stack the dishwasher.
By Erin Bennett
Product test writer
Different designs, manufacturer advice and the shapes and sizes of dishes mean there isn’t a 100% correct way of stacking a dishwasher. But, for peace in your household, there are some golden rules you should follow.
The golden rules
Water needs to be able to reach your dishes to clean, so here’s how you can help it:
put heavily soiled items in the bottom basket
place items so they face towards the centre of the dishwasher
don’t stack items on top of one another
make sure spray arms can move freely.
Here's how to stack your dishwasher:
1. Glassware, mugs and large cooking utensils
This is a good place for your drinking glasses and mugs. Most top baskets have dividers to
keep items from knocking about in a wash to prevent chipping and
cracking. Larger cooking utensils, such as spatulas and tongs, can
also be laid flat in the bottom of this basket.
2. Plastic containers
Generally, the top basket doesn’t get as hot as
the bottom, so plastic is less likely to warp. Make sure your plastic
containers are facing down so that they don’t have water pooling in
them after the wash.
3. Tall items (such as wine glasses)
Most dishwashers let you drop this basket down so you can fit taller items, such as wine glasses.
Top tip: To help your dishes dry, leave the dishwasher open for a few minutes after washing to let water evaporate.
4. Don’t nest plates
Use the tines (the prongs) to keep plates separate. This prevents damage and lets water in for cleaning (but it
isn’t the end of the world if your dishes lightly touch).
Many dishwashers have folding tines in the lower basket so you can fit in oddly shaped or large dishes, such as pots and
Place your plates in the bottom rack (unless they’re delicate
or prone to chipping). Stack from the middle outwards as it helps
7. Heavily soiled items
To ensure really dirty items – such as
crockery, pots, and chopping boards – get the best clean, place them
towards the centre back of the bottom basket. This tends to be the
warmer part of the dishwasher with a more intense clean.
Top tip: Empty the bottom drawer first so you don’t spill any water from the top basket on to dry dishes below.
8. Cutlery tray
Some dishwashers come with a cutlery tray (a shallow
drawer above the top basket with dividers to prevent cutlery
nesting). You can also place larger cooking utensils such as tongs,
spatulas here. If you’re comfortable washing your kitchen knives in
the dishwasher – as some knives can be damaged this way – they’re
best placed in the cutlery tray so that they’re separated from other
utensils and don’t become dull.
9. Cutlery basket
There is one simple rule to follow with cutlery – the
pointy end goes down. To prevent accidental stabbing, place the
pointy end down and handle up, including forks. Spoons can be placed
either way and mixing direction helps stop them nesting.
You don’t need to pre-rinse dishes before placing them in the dishwasher, but do scrape off food scraps. Dishwashers often have a rinse cycle as part of their wash, so if you pre-rinse you’re just wasting water. If you think your dishes aren’t clean enough without rinsing, then next time you wash, use a more intense wash cycle or try a different detergent.
What not to put in your dishwasher
Leave these items aside for hand washing:
Non-dishwasher safe items
Crystal and fine glassware
Wooden cooking utensils and chopping boards
Utensils with wood or bone handles
Copper pots and pans
Wash cycle top tips
Every dishwasher has different wash cycles/programmes. When we test dishwashers, we test on the default or “normal” cycle, which is what the machine uses when first turned on. Here are our top tips for wash cycles.
If you have a full, heavily soiled load, then the intense or “deep
clean” wash or a pots/pan cycle are a good option, but beware this
may use higher temperatures, so leave your plastic items for the next
load so they don’t warp.
If you want to save water and power, check if your machine has an
autosensing mode. This cycle is often a better choice than eco modes,
as it only uses as much water and energy as necessary for a good
clean. But be wary of eco modes, these can save water and energy but
often at the expense of time and temperature.
If you don’t turn your dishwasher on every day and want to avoid
smells, check if your model has a rinse cycle you can use between
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