How to Load a Dishwasher the Right Way

Make the most out of your dishwasher with these simple tricks.

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Why is the dishwasher the most divisive space in your home? Whether you share it with roommates or family, there’s no doubt you’ve had some kind of argument about how to load the dishwasher. Maybe you’re passive and move the bowls and cups to the “right” spot yourself, or you’ve entered the stage of your relationship where you tell your partner they’re doing it wrong.

Influencer and “everyone’s grandma” Babs Costello, aka @brunchwithbabs, took to TikTok to settle the matter once and for all. This is how to load a dishwasher the right way.

How to Load a Dishwasher Correctly

“Bootcamp” Babs shows us how to load a dishwasher properly instead of tossing everything in willy-nilly, and you can bet we’ll be using these tips all the time.

  • Gently load fragile items like cups, dishwasher-safe plastic and small bowls on the top rack. Stick these items between the prongs, not over.
  • Nestle large, bulky utensils, like spatulas and whisks, between the rows of bowls and cups.
  • Durable items, like plates and large bowls, belong on the bottom rack. Face them towards the center so the spray arm can clean every item. (Speaking of cleanliness, keep your dishwasher sparkling with this Affresh dishwasher cleaner.)
  • Utensils go both up and down. Face knives down for safety, and load forks and spoons upright.
  • Before running the dishwasher, make sure the spray arm hanging from the top rack is unobstructed.

P.S. These are the best countertop dishwashers for your kitchen.

Tips for Loading Your Dishwasher

Besides loading them up properly, there’s plenty of other stuff you can do to make sure your dishes come out sparkling clean.

  • Scrape food off dishes, but don’t rinse them—the detergent will adhere to the bits.
  • Wash your good knives and wooden utensils and tools by hand. Make sure you’re handwashing dishes properly, too!
  • Use those top-rack prongs to support extra-delicate items (think wine glasses). Secure them with the stabilizer, aka that weird thing jutting out of the side. When washing wine glasses, lower the top shelf before closing.
  • Add a ball of aluminum foil to the dishwasher—specifically, to the utensil basket—for shiny silverware. The foil will interact with the chemicals in your dishwasher tablets and dishwasher detergent to remove streaks and grime.
  • Place pots and pans at the front of the bottom rack.
  • It’s tempting, but don’t overcrowd—this gives the spray less room.

Dishwashers aren’t just for flatware and utensils! Check out this list of items you didn’t know you could clean in the dishwasher. Or check out Bab’s latest hack that teaches viewers how to degrease sauce.


Sarra Sedghi
Sarra Sedghi is a Birmingham-based writer and editor specializing in food, travel, and history. Her work has appeared in Allrecipes, Atlas Obscura, Eater, MyRecipes, Polygon, and Tasting Table. She excels at narrative writing, and received her MFA in Narrative Nonfiction from the University of Georgia in 2017.