How to load a dishwasher

How you load a dishwasher can have a big impact on how clean you get your items.

Scrape off as much surface food as possible and place larger and dirtier items on the bottom rack with cups, glasses and less soiled items on the top rack. There is no need to pre-rinse items. This just wastes time, water and energy, plus the detergents need something to work on, or else they may leave deposits on items.

Load plates and glasses so they aren't touching and put cutlery in the special basket, handles facing downwards, but taking care with knife blades, or use the special racks provided on the top shelf.
These items can be washed in a dishwasher, with the following guidelines:

  • Glassware - Any ordinary glassware and ovenware such as Pyrex. Do not wash lead crystal glasses unless they carry a "dishwasher safe" label. It may be best to hand wash patterned glasses as they can be faded over time.
  • Tableware - Most everyday crockery is safe. Bone china usually has under-glaze decoration and should be safe. Avoid antique or hand-painted and over-glaze decorated items. If in doubt, check with the manufacturer.
  • Cutlery - Most cutlery is made from a form of steel and are normally suitable for machine washing. However mixing them in the same wash can mean that they can become tarnished. Silver cutlery and cutlery with wooden or bone handles are better washed by hand, although some tablets claim to offer 'silver protection'.
  • Plastics - Check whether they are dishwasher safe and do not place in the lower rack, where the heating element may affect the plastic during drying.
  • Pans - Stainless steel is ideal for dishwashers. Cast iron and aluminium pans are best washed by hand. Although pans with non-stick coatings may be suitable for the dishwasher, many people prefer hand washing as they believe it prolongs the coating's durability. Woks should not be washed in the dishwasher as it can cause rust and removes the 'seasoning' that wok owners try to cultivate. They should not be washed with washing up liquid but can be cleaned in a soda crystals bath.
  • Always wash cast iron and wooden handled items by hand. Wooden items don't get very hot and are prone to warping or cracking.
  • Although plastic items are fine for the dishwasher, they don't tend to dry as well because they don't get as hot as metal or crockery.

For some more tips on using a dishwasher, look at the top tips at the bottom of the 'Daily Use' page.