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Best Way to Load a Dishwasher

Lucy Schaeffer/Demand Media

Forget arguments over whose turn it is to take out the trash, mop the floor or change the litter box. Instead, resolve to finally settle that spat over how to correctly load and organize the dishwasher. "My husband and I have long disagreed over the rights and wrongs of this kitchen appliance," says Lisa Haisha, organizational expert and personal consultant. Ultimately, though, Haisha — who methodically organizes everything in her house from her light bulbs to kitchen gadgets — says that "practicality and common sense are key," so listen up and get dishwasher savvy.

Lucy Schaeffer/Demand Media

Plates Go On the Bottom

Plates, no matter their size, should go into the slots in the bottom section of your dishwasher. "Face them toward the center and if they lean at all, lean them inwards and downwards," says Haisha. Each plate deserves its own row. Double stacking plates between rows can cause them to stick together, reducing their exposure to the water stream.

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Stack Bowls on an Incline

There should be enough room between each bowl for the cleaning solution and water to reach inside. To create this space, stack your bowls on a downward incline. Leave about two to three inches of space between each bowl and adjust as necessary if you discover they aren't getting adequately sprayed. Mixing bowls and other large bowls aside, always place bowls on the top shelf.

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Cups, Glasses and Mugs Go On Top

If you drink out of it, it should go on the top shelf. That includes martini glasses, coffee mugs, juice cups, tea cups, shot glasses and even goblets, should you own any. "Place the cups and glasses in the top section of the dishwasher facing down so water will spray upwards into them," says Haisha.

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Keep Plastics On the Top

The water emitted from your dishwasher is very hot. Even if plastic dishes — such as reusable containers — are approved for a dishwasher, it's best to keep them on the top rack. "Placing plastic items in the bottom rack could cause them to warp," notes Haisha.

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Loading Pots, Pans and Large Items

Always check to make sure a pot or pan is dishwasher approved. For example, cast iron should never go in the dishwasher, nor should ceramic pieces. Glass, on the other hand, has received the all-clear. Haisha says to place approved pots, pans and large bowls on the bottom facing sideways and angled downward.

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Silverware Loading Tips

Sharp knives aside, place silverware with the stems on the bottom and "mouths" facing up "so the water has more time to wash over them," says Haisha. Also avoid placing all of the same type of silverware in one container. "It’s best to space them out in different containers so they don’t press against each other and block water from surrounding them." Large silverware and serving utensils should rest horizontally on the top rack.

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When to Rinse Before Loading

"According to high efficiency dishwasher manufacturers, you can scrape the food off your dishes, but you don’t have to rinse them," says Haisha. Ultimately, she recommends using your best judgement. If you don't think high powered hot water will wash the food away, it's best to rinse a little bit before loading the item.

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Never Overstuff Your Dishwasher

It may seem smart to stuff as much into a single load as possible, but doing so often results in unclean dishes. Many times, the food residue is cooked into the dishes and is that much harder to remove. Save yourself time by never overstuffing. "The spacing the dishwasher manufacturer created to divide the dishes should be adhered to," notes Haisha.

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