How to load your dishwasher
By Aaron West
Watch our video guide to find out which dishes should go where and what to do with large items so you can make the most of your dishwasher.
In this article:
- Top dishwasher loading tips
- What's the dishwasher safe symbol?
- What is dishwasher safe and can go in?
The way you load your dishwasher can make a big difference to how efficiently it cleans your dishes, especially bigger items and those covered in tough-to-shift grime.
To make sure you end up with a perfectly clean load of dishes every time, take a look at our dishwasher loading guide video above and find out below which of your most-washed items are dishwasher safe.
See our shortlist of the best dishwashers.
1. Scrape plates, no need to rinse
Knocking off lumps of leftover food before loading the dishwasher will give it best chance of getting everything clean. But most dishwasher programs will pre-rinse your dishes, so you don’t need to.
2. Face the middle
3. Don't overload your dishwasher
Leave spaces between dishes and cutlery for the water and detergent to spread around the dishwasher. Sticking to the spaces provided in the dish racks and cutlery baskets is a good idea.
Overloading your dishwasher (as in the image below) will make it more difficult for your dishwasher to get everything clean.
4. Mix up plates and bowls
5. Bowls always face down
It sounds obvious, but never place bowls upright. Water will just collect in them, meaning they won't clean properly.
6. Large items at the back and sides
Load large items, such as baking trays or turkey platters, at the side or back. This will make sure they don't get in the way of the flow of water and detergent, preventing other dishes getting clean.
7. Use adjustable racks for large items
Most dishwashers now have adjustable top racks. This is really useful for fitting in large items or long-stemmed wine glasses, but it isn’t always obvious that you have one at a glance.
To check if your dishwasher has an upper rack that can be lowered or raised, look out for a lever mechanism on the sides (as in the image below).
Some also use a runner system that requires the basket to be removed and the runners to be adjusted.
8. Roasting trays on the bottom rack
The best way of cleaning away baked-on food from roasting trays is to load them in the lower rack – this is where the water pressure and temperature is highest. Some dishwashers have a separate spray-head for heavy-duty jobs like this.
9. Cups and glasses up top
If you drink out of it, it should go on the top, facing down. Put glasses along the side supports if possible, as the water jet isn't so powerful here. Cups and mugs can go in the middle.
10. Safeguard your plastics
Plastic items also go on the top rack. The temperature is lower here, so there's less chance of them warping or becoming misshapen in the heat.
12. The key to loading cutlery
The reason your cutlery doesn't always get clean could be because like-for-like items are sitting too close together, meaning there's no space for the water.
This issue, known as nesting, can happen when spoons lean into each other. To solve this, place some upright and some facing downwards, so that water can rinse over all surfaces.
The exception to this rule are knives. It's safer to just load them pointy-side down.
There's no standardised symbol to say whether a piece of crockery, glassware or plastic is dishwasher safe. But two of the most commonly used symbols are pictured above.
Many items are dishwasher safe in the top rack only. This is because the top rack cleans more gently, and at a lower water pressure than the bottom rack, so more delicate items will be safer there.
If an item is dishwasher safe in the top rack only, it should state it on the sticker at the bottom, or on the box it came in.
If you're not sure, it's better to be safe than sorry and wash it up by hand.
|Item||Dishwasher safe or not?|
|Aeropress||Dishwasher safe on the top shelf|
|Avent bottles||Dishwasher safe on the top shelf|
|Baking trays||Not dishwasher safe (unless it's stainless steel)|
|Bamboo cups||Dishwasher safe|
|Bobbles bottles and cap||Dishwasher safe|
|Bodum double wall glasses||Dishwasher safe|
|Brita water jug and filter||Not dishwasher safe|
|Bronze cutlery and flatware||Not dishwasher safe|
|Bubba mugs||Not dishwasher safe (unless entirely made of stainless steel or Tritan plastic)|
|Chilly’s bottles||Not dishwasher safe|
|Circulon Bakeware||Not dishwasher safe|
|Circulon Pans||Dishwasher safe|
|Copper pots and pans||Not dishwasher safe|
|Dr Brown's baby bottles and nipples||Dishwasher safe on the top shelf|
|Duplo||Not dishwasher safe|
|Emma bridgewater||Dishwasher safe|
|Enamel dishes||Most are dishwasher safe, but check the label|
|Enameled cast iron||Not dishwasher safe|
|Fine bone china||Dishwasher safe on a delicate/gentle/glassware program|
|Gorilla super glue||Dishwasher safe|
|Green toys kids toys brand||Dishwasher safe|
|Hydratem8 bottles||Not dishwasher safe|
|Keep Cups||Dishwasher safe on the top shelf|
|Kilner jars and lids||Dishwasher safe|
|KitchenAid stand mixer glass bowl||Dishwasher safe|
|Lock and lock plastic containers||Dishwasher safe|
|Mason jars and lids||Dishwasher safe|
|Medela bottles||Dishwasher safe|
|Melmac or melamine plates or dishes||Not dishwasher safe|
|Munchkin 360 bottles and cups||Not dishwasher safe|
|Nalgene bottles||Dishwasher safe on the top shelf|
|Nonstick pans||Not dishwasher safe|
|Nordic ware||Not dishwasher safe|
|Nuby sippy cups||Dishwasher safe on the top shelf|
|Nutribullet blades and cup||Dishwasher safe on the top shelf|
|Oven shelves or racks||Dishwasher safe|
|Pet dishes||Most are dishwasher safe, but check the label|
|Pewter||Not dishwasher safe|
|Plastic takeaway containers||Dishwasher safe|
|Polycarbonate||Dishwasher safe up to 60°C|
|Pressure cooker lid||Not dishwasher safe|
|Pressure cooker pot||Dishwasher safe|
|Printed or sublimation mugs||Dishwasher safe|
|Royal doulton fine china||Dishwasher safe|
|Royal Doulton glasses and crystal||Not dishwasher safe|
|Royal Doulton plates||Dishwasher safe (apart from the giftware, or silver, nickel, stainless steel and aluminium plates)|
|Sigg bottles||Not dishwasher safe|
|Silicone baking pans||Dishwasher safe|
|Silicone ice trays||Dishwasher safe|
|Silver or sterling silver dishes or cutlery||Not dishwasher safe|
|Slow cooker dish or crock pot||Dishwasher safe|
|Smiggle bottles||Dishwasher safe on the top shelf without the lid|
|Sophie the giraffe||Not dishwasher safe|
|Stainless steel||Dishwasher safe|
|Stove and hob burners||Not dishwasher safe|
|Swell bottles||Not dishwasher safe|
|Tefal actifry bowl and lid||Dishwasher safe|
|Tefal cookware||Not dishwasher safe|
|Tommee tippee bottles and teats||Dishwasher safe|
|Tupperware||Dishwasher safe (unless it was made before 1979)|
|Wooden chopping boards||Not dishwasher safe|
|Yeti mugs, tumblers||Dishwasher safe|