One Professional Organizer’s Tips for How to Load the Dishwasher

How to Load the Dishwasher
Seana next to an open dishwasher

Loading the dishwasher can be a household task fraught with contention, as differing opinions clash over the most efficient and organized method. Admittedly, there is no single “right” approach. Nevertheless, there are some basic principles that I believe make the process simple and effective. I don’t write this post lightly, as I know I might get some strong reactions. However, for those who might be looking for some tips, or who might benefit from having a neutral/third party perspective, I thought I’d share one professional organizer’s tips for how to load the dishwasher.

In this short little video, I’m sharing a few tips for your consideration.

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Do you have a strategy for loading the dishwasher? What’s your best tip for getting this task done?

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22 thoughts on “One Professional Organizer’s Tips for How to Load the Dishwasher”

  1. It seems simple enough, but it’s amazing how many different ways there are to load the dishwasher. I liked seeing how you do it and your reasons behind the method.

    Our dishwasher has a basket AND that top third pullout shelf (like yours) for flatware. I mostly use the basket. We load the silverware and by placing like-with-like. It makes unloading easier if the spoons or forks are beside each other. When we have an event with lots of people, I use the top rack for the overflow silverware. Again, we load it with like next to like. It makes unloading go more quickly.

    As far as rinsing, I always do. I don’t like it if food chunks reside in the dishwasher.

  2. Ha! This is one of the advantages of living alone, not having to discuss or agree on how to load a dishwasher. My method isn’t precisely the same as yours, but close enough! And I had to laugh at your hesitation to document it, LOL.

  3. Wonderful. I also have a very specific way to place plates and utensils in my dishwasher. I realized that if you don’t remove any excess food, you have to set the dishwasher on the longer time, as the quick wash will not do the job. Also, removing any excess food, will have the dishwasher last longer same goes for the sink disposal.
    I love that extra drawer for utensils, much nicer than the basket.
    Janet Schiesl recently posted…Opening EnvelopesMy Profile

    1. The whole pre-rinsing thing is controversial, but I want to do what makes my life easier. And not having to crawl into my dishwasher and fish out food bits is definitely easier!

  4. Great video. My husband would love this post. =) The dishwasher loading is super important to him.

    In our dishwasher, we have to face the plates toward the center.

    We must put the utensils in the center because our dishwasher has a water bottle cleaner on the side.
    I love our third drawer, too. We start from the front and work our way back since the drawer needs to be pulled out when loading it, and family members may not have enough time to do that.
    We have an issue with small glasses falling over when sliding the drawer in after loading. So, we had to meet on where to place the small glasses so they don’t fall. =)
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…DIY Food Storage Bag HolderMy Profile

    1. I love that you had to have a meeting on what to do with the small glasses. Some people think this is crazy, but I think this is what makes household chores easier. Just get together and talk it through, right?

  5. Great dishwasher tips! I do many of the same things as you, Seana. No controversy in my house. My husband and I load the dishwasher the same way. One thing I haven’t done before is your 2 sponge method. I think that’s a great idea and will adopt it.

    1. Nice when everyone in the household can be on the same page. This isn’t always the case! The two sponge approach just gives me peace of mind.

  6. Since I am the only one loading the dishwasher on a regular basis, I do it the way that makes sense to me. I like to load like items with like items because it makes it easier to unload and put the items away.
    However, if someone is at my home and loads the dishwasher, I am happy with whatever way they do it because it saves me the hassle.
    Having said that, when my younger son (in his 50s) was last here he deliberately pulled my chain by saying, “And I will put the cast iron skillet here”. I believe that was followed by my statement, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out if you put my cast iron into the dishwasher.”

    1. I heard of a young bride who received a well-seasoned cast iron skillet as a gift from a relative. She put it in the dishwasher, not knowing. Sad day!

  7. Wow! I always tell a story about unloading my dishwasher. 🙂 I hated to do it so I timed it. It took FIVE MINUTES. I always remind myself of that when unloading. Butt WHO KNEW there were actually pro tips for loading. I have decided that it is not worth it to ask my family to load like I do, as I am very picky.
    I just go behind them and correct them. Gotta pick your battles. Thanks for the tips. 🙂
    Pam Holland recently posted…How to have less stress and more joy this holiday season!My Profile

    1. Isn’t that so interesting? When we time the chore, we realize how little it might actually take us. I feel that way about making the bed up with fresh sheets – not my favorite. I think I even wrote a post about it LOL!

  8. Fun post idea! I’m in a group of professional organizers who started Zooming on Friday nights early during the pandemic and we’ve kept it up. Somewhere along the way, we switched from random chatting to formal discussions with planned topics, but even those veer off into tangents, and one night, we spent more than an hour talking about dishwashers — how to fix and maintain them, how to load them, how to clean them, and how to make them clean dishes better. We still joke all the time about how we imagine nobody else could believe we’d talk that long about dishwashers. I can’t wait to share your post with them!

    I was particularly intrigued by your dishwasher, as it’s so different from my (bare bones, apartment) dishwasher. It’s just got pokey-uppy things and a side basket for silverware. No top shelf, and none of your swoopy, curvy things. I’m also impressed with how uniform your stacking is, and that you stack from rear to front. Maybe it’s because I live alone, maybe because not much that I have matches, but beyond stacking things toward the cupboards in which they get put away (so mugs on the right, glasses on the left), and (by necessity due to the way the “pokey-uppy” things are laid out, plates perpendicular to bowls, mine doesn’t look very orderly.

    But I absolutely must scrape/rinse all the food (and melted butter or cheese) off dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. I only need to use it a couple of times a week, and the idea of dried food sitting that long makes me queasy. We singletons have a different dishwashing life. 😉
    Julie Bestry recently posted…52 Ways to Say NO to a Request So You Can Say YES to Your PrioritiesMy Profile

    1. This one is much easier if you live alone. I’d have no issues if it were just me. For some reasons, this tends to be one of those things that people sharing a kitchen tend to argue about.

      I do LOVE my dishwasher. It is awesome.

  9. Loading the dishwasher is a big deal in families. While there is no RIGHT way to do this, focusing on speed and ease of unloading to create a system makes the most difference.

    I agree with your strategy and that is what we do in our home. Fortunately, we all agree on the strategy! We do group items together for better cleaning and also ease of unloading. It is easier to put away items that are in the same category.

    1. That’s so true, Ellen. So much easier to grab a series of plates and put them away. Bonus if you can have your drawers and cabinets near the dishwasher!

    1. Wow! i guess if you using your dishwasher only periodically is one way to avoid conflict, right? I do think that if everyone can agree to one approach, the whole process will work better, no matter the approach!

  10. I have been criticized for rinsing my dishes first because the instructions said not to. There is a sensor that goes on first to determine how dirty they are and reacts accordingly. However since we are only two people we don’t run it as often and if food is left on the dishes it begins to smell in just a few hours-so I rinse off any heavy or congealed food first and that works. I load mine pretty much as you suggested though I don’t have the third layer for silverware. Good subject-rarely addressed.

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