The American Cleaning Institute (ACI)

Loading the Dishwasher

Dishwasher full of dishes

Ideally, there shouldn’t be a right way or a wrong way to clean – as long as someone is actually cleaning! But, many a fight has been had over the proper way to load a dishwasher. So here are some handy tips to keep the dishes clean, and families intact.

  • For dishwashers made in the past 10 years, simply scrape off food. You do not need to rinse. This wastes water. Many dishwashers have a "quick rinse" setting that will take the place of rinsing in the sink (and, again, save water.)
  • Don’t overload the dishwasher. Make sure the dirty part of every dish, bowl, plate and glass has a clear path to the sprayer arm.
  • It’s safer to put knives and forks head down in the cutlery bin, but they get cleaner head up.
  • Speaking of cutlery, don’t "nest." Meaning, don’t put spoons with spoons and forks with forks. Mix them up so they get cleaner.
  • Load dishes along the back and sides so that they face the middle of the dishwasher.
  • Glassware, coffee mugs and plastic ware should go on the top rack. There is higher water pressure on the bottom which could break some glasses, and the water on the bottom is higher temperatures, which could melt the plastic.
  • Empty the bottom rack first so that any water that pools in the glass and cups bottoms doesn’t spill onto the dry dishes.
  • Always load glasses and mugs upside down.