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How to Use A Dishwasher

Updated on September 30, 2012
Dishwasher: Bottom Rack, Bottom Spray Arm and Detergent Dispenser
Dishwasher: Bottom Rack, Bottom Spray Arm and Detergent Dispenser | Source

How to use a dishwasher correctly depends upon the type of the dishwasher that you have. There are many different brands of dishwashers with different designs available on the market. However, the basic principle still apply to all of them. There will be specifically designated places for plates, bowls, cups and utensils. Using a dishwasher to clean your dirty dishes will definitely free up your time to do other things. Before I used to hand wash the dishes because I felt the dishwasher couldn't clean the dishes as good as if you washed the dishes by hand. But washing by hand all the dishes every single day had become too time consuming with three young kids in the family. My husband suggested for me to give the dishwasher a try, at least once in awhile to lighten my workload. I remembered the first time I used the dishwasher, I had no idea of how to load a dishwasher properly with all the dirty dishes that came in different shapes and sizes. But now after more than a year of using a dishwasher, I find that a good dishwasher can do a good job if you know how to use the dishwasher correctly. It is important to load a dishwasher properly and to use good dishwasher tablets as well.

How to Load A Dishwasher

Before loading any dish into your dishwasher, always remove large particles from the dishes and other items first because they might clog the drainage.

Soak the dirty dishes that has been left out too long and you can't remove the dried particles easily. You should be able to remove the particles after few minutes of soaking them.

Load the large dishes at the bottom rack of the dishwasher. Place the plates accordingly into designated slots. I find it works great when I place the plates and bowls in the same directions for the same set of slots.

If you have bowls that are deep, try to skip some slots so that the bowls won't be blocking each other when the water comes in.

Pay attention to top spray arm that is located underneath the top rack. Make sure no dish or cooking utensils at its level. Or they will block the top spray arm when it needs to spin and shoot out water.

Spacing out the utensils in the cutlery basket. Make sure they are not overlapping each other.

If you use scissors to cut food and want to wash them in dishwasher, open the scissors and let them sit on the divider of the cutlery basket.

Load small items such as cups, glasses and small bowls on the upper rack. Long cooking tools and knives should lay flat in the upper rack.


Keep things that are too delicate and easy to break out of the dishwasher.

Remove all the plastic or paper labels from your new dishes because these labels can come off during the wash and might clog the drainage.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bottom Rack of A DishwasherUpper Rack of A DishwasherRemoving Food From A BowlSkipping A Slot When Loading A Deep Bowl.  Although some people like to load their dishes facing center, I find it works fine having the dishes facing one direction.  Just follow the direction of the slots.Fill the Back of Rack FirstUsing Bigger Slots for Larger and Deeper BowlsUsing Bigger Slots for Larger and Deeper BowlsUsing Bigger Slots for Larger and Deeper BowlsPlacing Large Plates At the SideDo Not Place Anything That Might Block the Upper Spray Arm From SpinningPlace Long Cooking Utensils Flat on the Upper Rack of A DishwasherDo Not Position anything That Might Collect WaterPlace Dishes and Pots Side Way or Face DownLoad All the Small Items Such As Cups on the Upper Rack of A DishwasherNever Stack Anything in A DishwasherAlways Place Them Apart So That The Water Can Get ThroughMake Sure That You Remove All Labels Before WashingA Jar Without Label Is Safe To Be Wash In A DishwasherYou Can Wash Your Grill Plates In A DishwasherJust Make Sure the Dirty Side of the Plate is Facing Side Way or DownA Full Load of Dirty Dishes
Bottom Rack of A Dishwasher
Bottom Rack of A Dishwasher | Source
Upper Rack of A Dishwasher
Upper Rack of A Dishwasher | Source
Removing Food From A Bowl
Removing Food From A Bowl | Source
Skipping A Slot When Loading A Deep Bowl.  Although some people like to load their dishes facing center, I find it works fine having the dishes facing one direction.  Just follow the direction of the slots.
Skipping A Slot When Loading A Deep Bowl. Although some people like to load their dishes facing center, I find it works fine having the dishes facing one direction. Just follow the direction of the slots. | Source
Fill the Back of Rack First
Fill the Back of Rack First | Source
Using Bigger Slots for Larger and Deeper Bowls
Using Bigger Slots for Larger and Deeper Bowls | Source
Using Bigger Slots for Larger and Deeper Bowls
Using Bigger Slots for Larger and Deeper Bowls | Source
Using Bigger Slots for Larger and Deeper Bowls
Using Bigger Slots for Larger and Deeper Bowls | Source
Placing Large Plates At the Side
Placing Large Plates At the Side | Source
Do Not Place Anything That Might Block the Upper Spray Arm From Spinning
Do Not Place Anything That Might Block the Upper Spray Arm From Spinning | Source
Place Long Cooking Utensils Flat on the Upper Rack of A Dishwasher
Place Long Cooking Utensils Flat on the Upper Rack of A Dishwasher | Source
Do Not Position anything That Might Collect Water
Do Not Position anything That Might Collect Water | Source
Place Dishes and Pots Side Way or Face Down
Place Dishes and Pots Side Way or Face Down | Source
Load All the Small Items Such As Cups on the Upper Rack of A Dishwasher
Load All the Small Items Such As Cups on the Upper Rack of A Dishwasher | Source
Never Stack Anything in A Dishwasher
Never Stack Anything in A Dishwasher | Source
Always Place Them Apart So That The Water Can Get Through
Always Place Them Apart So That The Water Can Get Through | Source
Make Sure That You Remove All Labels Before Washing
Make Sure That You Remove All Labels Before Washing | Source
A Jar Without Label Is Safe To Be Wash In A Dishwasher
A Jar Without Label Is Safe To Be Wash In A Dishwasher | Source
You Can Wash Your Grill Plates In A Dishwasher
You Can Wash Your Grill Plates In A Dishwasher | Source
Just Make Sure the Dirty Side of the Plate is Facing Side Way or Down
Just Make Sure the Dirty Side of the Plate is Facing Side Way or Down | Source
A Full Load of Dirty Dishes
A Full Load of Dirty Dishes | Source

How to Use Dispensers for Detergents and Rinse Agent

Most of the dishwashers have the dispensers on the door. They are mostly labeled for your convenience. Just follow the instructions for the amount of dishwasher powder or liquid, and rinse agent. It would be simpler if you use dishwasher tablets which would be just one tablet for each load of dishes.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Placing A Dishwasher Detergent Tablet into the Dispenser Closing A Dishwasher Detergent Dispenser After Putting in A Dishwasher Detergent TabletAdding in Rinse Agent into the DispenserClose the Door After You Have Add in the Dishwasher Detergent and Rinse Agent
Placing A Dishwasher Detergent Tablet into the Dispenser
Placing A Dishwasher Detergent Tablet into the Dispenser | Source
Closing A Dishwasher Detergent Dispenser After Putting in A Dishwasher Detergent Tablet
Closing A Dishwasher Detergent Dispenser After Putting in A Dishwasher Detergent Tablet | Source
Adding in Rinse Agent into the Dispenser
Adding in Rinse Agent into the Dispenser | Source
Close the Door After You Have Add in the Dishwasher Detergent and Rinse Agent
Close the Door After You Have Add in the Dishwasher Detergent and Rinse Agent | Source

Dishwasher Detergent that Works Best

After testing a few different brands of dishwasher detergents, I found that Finish dishwasher detergent works the best so far. I especially like the Finish tablets. It very easy and simple to use. It also dissolves well and cleans well. I only use the Finish rinse agent once in awhile, but the glasses are spotless even without the rinse agent. I have been using it for about a year now, the only complaint I have is that it leaves small white spots on non stick cookware.

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    • kittyjj profile image
      Author

      Ann Leung 4 years ago from San Jose, California

      Marcy, I know a lot of people like to load their dishes facing toward the center. But I find loading the dishes according the slot design works great too.

      Thank you for the vote up!

    • kittyjj profile image
      Author

      Ann Leung 4 years ago from San Jose, California

      mactavers, loading the dishes from the back also helps reduce the time of heavy pressure on the dishwasher door. Thank you for your kind words!

    • kittyjj profile image
      Author

      Ann Leung 4 years ago from San Jose, California

      Carol777, good to know this hub is helpful to you. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

      Very nice tips, Kitty! I also learned that we use far more dishwashing detergent than needed. One of the major cleaning elements of a good dishwasher is the force of the spray jets, so we can get by with a fraction of what we think we need. I usually load mine with all dishes facing toward the center, since that's the direction the spray comes from.

      Voted up and up!

    • mactavers profile image

      mactavers 4 years ago

      Good tips here. Too many people load from the front and always have to reach across dirty items. Also, I think putting silverwear items handle down helps to clean them better.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      This was very helpful and I admit to being lazy and careless here. This really does make a lot of sense and I am glad I stopped by to read it. Voting UP and sharing.