What's the right way to load the dishwasher? Experts solve couples' biggest dishwasher debates.

Some couples say there's a whole lot to fight about when it comes to the dishwasher. Cleaning professionals share the correct way to load those dirty dishes.

When it's time to load the dishwasher, what's the best way to do it? Experts weigh in. (Photo: Getty)
When it's time to load the dishwasher, what's the best way to do it? Experts weigh in. (Photo: Getty)

Even the best relationship can be stressful. You and your partner may argue about where to live, how to manage finances or issues related to schedules and family commitments. But often, household chores are an unexpected source of conflict. And, it's not just about who will complete tasks like taking out the garbage or cleaning the bathrooms, many couples are fight about an unexpected topic — the correct way to load the dishwasher.

Whether one person is overcrowding the dishwasher, putting items in the wrong spot or sticking items that don't belong in the dishwasher at all into those racks, there's a whole lot to fight about when it comes to the dishwasher.

The dishwasher debate

Lisa Richards, owns New York City hair salon RPZL, and says she and her husband, Chris, have ongoing debates about the rules of the dishwasher. "When Chris is home, he takes care of all the dishes but I like to micromanage," she admits. "Chris puts everything in the dishwasher — maximizing every inch and organizing kitchenware by size. The forks, spoons and knives have to be together in the same direction, so he can fit every dish in the dishwasher before he runs it."

This time-consuming method bothers Richards, who likes all dishes to be clean and put away before she goes to bed each evening.

"Chris wastes so much time putting items in the dishwasher," she explains. "I like to put a few dishes in where I see fit, run it after each meal and put it away before we start making another meal. Chris thinks I'm wasting money with this strategy, but I think he's wasting time, so which is worse?"

Travis Paul Martin is a publicist whose partner moved in with him several months ago. "One of the first things he did that annoyed me involved the dishwasher," he tells Yahoo Life. "One day, I loaded some things into a relatively empty dishwasher and came back later to a totally rearranged dishwasher — and for no other reason except that he thought he had a better way."

"He wasn't trying to make room for something else," says Martin, "he just thought he had a better way. It's so silly that, in a world where there are major issues like gun control, this still made my blood boil."

Dancer Sam Quinn, says he and his boyfriend fight over the best way to load the dishwasher "constantly."

"We had a half-sized dishwasher when we were living in NYC, and now that we live in Boston we have a full-sized dishwasher, which brings extra room for extra arguments," says Quinn. "Examples of our heated debates: which direction to place forks, knives up or down, size and order of dishes and how and where to place wine glasses and Tupperware."

The correct way to load the dishwasher

Loading the dishwasher is a lot like making the bed or doing laundry: Everyone is going to have their own way of going about it and their own method that works for them. Still, there are some things that are just right or wrong when doing this chore. Agree to load the dishwasher correctly and you and your partner may fight less and have cleaner dishes.

Everything really does have its place

It's important to load your dirty dishes in the most logical places throughout your dishwasher. "I like to place larger items on the bottom rack, with smaller items on the top," says Leanne Stapf, chief operating officer at The Cleaning Authority.

Jill McMeekin is a household management content creator and speaker who founded J. Ryan Solutions with the goal of helping others manage household tasks. She agrees everything does indeed have its proper place in the dishwasher. "The top rack should contain things like lightweight plastic lids, plastic cups, Tupperware and water bottles," she explains. "The bottom rack should be reserved for heavier duty items like dinner plates, casserole dishes and cutting boards."

A guide to loading the dishwasher

When loading the dishes into your dishwasher, consider this guide to what goes where.

  • Silverware: "Spoons and forks should be loaded into the dishwasher with the handles facing downwards," says Stapf. "Then, place knives into a separate section to avoid scratching any other utensils."

  • Dishes: As a general rule of thumb, always make sure to leave enough space in the dishwasher for water to move freely. "You'll want to avoid overstuffing the area," says Stapf. "I recommend placing bowls towards the back of the top rack of your washer. Then, add mugs and glasses to the same rack." Stapf says to make sure everything is angled slightly downward (especially bowls) so they can wash, rinse and drain properly.

  • Food processors, appliance parts and InstantPots: Check to make sure your specific item is dishwasher safe. If it is: "Always add these items to the top rack of your dishwasher," Stapf says.

  • Dish sponge: Adding your sponge to your next dishwasher load can help sanitize the cleaning tool and remove germs and bacteria. For best results, Stapf says, "make sure to place your sponge on the top rack and place your dishwasher on its heated dry setting."

What should stay out of the dishwasher?

A big part of the dishwasher debate is knowing which items you can (and cannot) load into the dishwasher. McMeekin and Stapf weigh in on some hotly-debated items and whether or not they're truly dishwasher-safe.

  • Knife sets: One important rule of thumb is to never put your good knives or cookware in the dishwasher. "It will cause these expensive items to wear out quickly," warns McMeekin. "When in doubt, take the handwashing route."

  • Wood or bamboo kitchen items: Never add your favorite wooden cutting board to that dishwasher load. "Prolonged exposure to moisture and heat in the dishwasher can cause the wood to warp, crack or split, so you'll want to avoid placing these items in your dishwasher," says Stapf.

  • Rubber or plastic kitchen items: "High heat combined with dishwasher detergent may result in a mishap, potentially changing the shape of the cookware," says Stapf. To be on the safe side, you may want to hand wash these items as well.

  • Another pro tip: Always make sure to read product labels to ensure what you're placing into the dishwasher is, indeed, dishwasher safe.

Don't forget: Your dishwasher needs to be cleaned, too

Just like your car needs maintenance, so do your home appliances. Don't forget to maintain your dishwasher and clean the filter. :It won't matter how you load it if you don't get the gunk out of there," McMeekin says.

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