Loading the Dishwasher Wrong Could Leave You With Spotted Dishes — Here’s How to Fix It

Make your dishes sparkle with these tips.

By Toni Gasparis
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8 Common Household Items You Can Sanitize in the Dishwasher (1:48)

Most of our daily tasks don’t require much thought. Things like showering, eating, and using the bathroom are second nature by now, but what if we told you there was a more efficient way to do everyday activities you’ve forgotten about? Correct Me If I’m Wrong… is DoctorOz.com’s new series about improving even the most mundane tasks you tackle on a daily basis so you can live happier and healthier. 

Dirty dishes are one of the most complained about chores. I actually have a friend who’d prefer cleaning a toilet over doing the dishes. And while I think that’s a little over-dramatic, doing the dishes can be tedious — so thank goodness for dishwashers. But did you know there’s a right way to use the dishwasher? Turns out it takes a little more finesse than just shoving everything in and hoping for the best. This is important to know because loading the dishwasher wrong can actually leave you with spotted, and sometimes even dirty, dishes.

If you do have a dishwasher, make sure you’re using it right to ensure less work for yourself and minimal handwashing. Lifestyle expert and dishwasher-loading aficionado, Martha Stewart, visited The Dr. Oz Show to set the record straight on the best way to load in your dishes, and gives tips for how to use your dishwasher effectively.

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The Proper Way to Load a Dishwasher

Some people rinse dishes before loading them in the dishwasher, some wash dishes entirely before loading, and others throw in dishes caked with food without a second thought. But the key, according to Stewart, is organization.

Starting from the top and moving down, you want to make sure you reserve the top rack for glassware. Stewart recommends putting the glasses on an angle instead of over the tines. This will prevent any spotting when they’re being washed and dried.

Turning your attention to the bottom rack, line up the plates and stack your pots and pans close to, and facing, the water spray unit (usually located in the bottom of the dishwasher, towards the center) which will ensure clean dishes every time.

“You don’t want your spoons spooning,” says Stewart in reference to the utensil caddy. In order to make sure all your forks, knives, and spoons get clean, alternate between handles up and handles down so all utensils are separated.

Should I Pre-Rinse?

Is it really necessary to clean your dishes before putting them in a cleaning appliance? According to Martha Stewart, it’s a good idea. “I always pre-rinse,” says Stewart, “that way I don’t have to clean the grate.”

But don’t panic: Pre-rinsing does not mean that you should wash your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher — no soap is needed or required before they go in. However, it does mean you should rinse all dishes to get the food off before placing them in the racks. This step will not only ensure clean dishes, but also a clean dishwasher. If a lot of food gets stuck in your dishwasher grate, over time, it will begin to smell. Then you’ll have to dedicate more time to cleaning out the soggy old food sludge from the dishwasher (and no one wants to touch food sludge).

Is There Anything I Should Never Put in the Dishwasher?

“I never put my knives, wooden spoons, or rubber spatulas [in the dishwasher],” says Stewart. The reason for this is dishwashing could ruin them and cause knives to rust, wood to crack, and spatulas to become misshapen. Stewart also says that cast iron, most non-stick pans, and aluminium should be hand washed as well.

Always check the bottoms of dishes, pans, and tupperware to make sure they have the “Dishwasher Safe” seal. If not, leave them out.

What Else I Should Know?

Make sure to not let dishes sit too long before putting them in the dishwasher. If food dries onto the dishes (think soup ring residue, dried egg yolk on a fork, and crusty salmon pieces on a plate), it’ll be a lot harder for food residue to be washed off during the cycle.

If you’re running out the door and don’t have time to put things in the dishwasher, at least let them soak in the sink to avoid food residue.

A little pre-dishwasher effort can go a long way. These recommendations will make sure you minimize the time spent hand washing dishes and maximize the capability of your dishwasher.

Related: 

Using the Treadmill Wrong Could Be Why You’re In Pain After a Workout

How Martha Stewart Gets Rid of a Red Wine Stain 

Martha Stewart Shows Dr. Oz How to Fold a Fitted Sheet

Article written by Toni Gasparis