How to Use a Dishwasher

Washing the dishes can get quite annoying if you live in a large household that uses a lot of utensils and plates every day. If you want to get the job done without going through the hassle and time, you should buy yourself a dishwasher.
The problem is, if you’re unfamiliar with a dishwasher, you might be slightly confused about how to properly load and operate it.

Step 1: Scrap of Food Bits and Rinse the Plates

A lot of first-time users throw dirty plates directly into the dishwasher. Not only will these dishes still come out unclean, but they’ll also shorten the dishwasher lifespan and make it prone to breaking down with time.
The first step of using the dishwasher is to give the plates a quick rinse under the water to scrape off as much food remains or sauces as possible. The plate doesn’t have to be wiped clean, but it needs to have as little solid food as possible.

Step 2: Familiarize Yourself With What Goes and Doesn’t Go with Dishwasher

Not all utensils and cutlery are dishwasher-safe. Always make sure that whatever you load into the dishwasher is compatible to avoid running into problems.
The easiest way to do this is by checking the utensils catalog and see if they’re dishwasher-safe.
To help you with that, here’s a quick look at some of the items that you shouldn’t add to the dishwasher:
  • Nonstick utensils (unless stated otherwise)
  • Expensive and delicate china and porcelain dishes
  • Some materials, such as wood, copper, sterling silver, aluminum, and cast iron
  • Fragile glass items
  • Knives

Step 3: Load the Washer’s Bottom Rack

For clearer visibility and judgment, you need to work your way from the bottom up while loading the dishwasher. At the bottom rack, start loading larger items, such as pans, bowls, and large plates. Flat items are placed at the back and sides while pots and pans are added in the center. Ideally, the utensils should be flipped upside down to face the spray nozzles or water jets of the dishwasher.
Make sure that you don’t overlap the dishes so that they’re not blocked off from the sprayers and jets. If you don’t mind adding precious metals like silver in the dishwasher, avoid placing them close to stainless steel because they can react together at high temperatures and moisture.

Step 4: Load the Washer’s Top Rack

The top rack is typically reserved for smaller items and utensils, such as small plates, water bottles, cups, mugs, and wine glasses (avoid placing expensive ones in the dishwasher)
Similar to the bottom rack, make sure that all items are facing the water jets and angled accordingly.
For taller glasses, make sure that they’re placed in a way that prevents them from tipping over or breaking as the dishwasher starts working.
As for silverware, there should be a dedicated basket that is designed to house them. Depending on the model of the dishwasher, this can be found either at the top or bottom.
An important tip here is to make sure that plastic items are stabilized because they’re much lighter than other items, so they can fly off as soon as the machine starts, causing other utensils to break.

Step 5: Add a Suitable Detergent or Soap to the Dishwasher

Now that you’ve successfully loaded all the dishes and utensils into the dishwasher, it’s time to load in the detergent or soap you’re going to use.
It’s essential to make sure that you use dishwasher detergent that is compatible with the model that you use. Additionally,
A good tip here is to use liquid detergents instead of powder and pods. This is because the powder doesn’t spread as easily and may leave dry flakes. Also, pods are quite expensive without having a significant increase in efficacy.
Check the loading basket for the suitable amount of detergent for your dishwasher, which is typically between 2 to 3 tablespoons of dishwasher detergent.

Step 6: Select the Proper Wash Cycle

With everything in place, all that’s left to do is to set the wash cycle according to what you’ve loaded. Here’s a quick guide that you can use to determine the suitable cycle:

Lightest Cycle

This should always be your go-to cycle whenever possible. What’s great about this cycle is that it uses as little water as possible compared to other cycles.
Also, it’s typically the fastest cycle, so you can get the job done quicker. This one is usually suitable for a load of small dishes that you use consistently without any large pots that require longer cleanup time.

Normal or Standard Cycle

Every dishwasher has a normal or average cycle that is suitable for everyday tasks. This one is ideal if you fill up the dishwasher with lightly soiled dishes that don’t require a long or powerful wash

Heavy-Duty Cycles

These are usually the most powerful ones. They consume the maximum amount of water and electricity and usually take a long time. Always reserve these cycles for heavily stained cookware and dishes that won’t clean up with any lesser mode. Once you’re settled on a cycle, press “start”, and enjoy your time as your dishwasher gets the job done!


This wraps it up for today’s guide on how to use a dishwasher properly. As you can notice, the whole process is quite easy and it should take you long to get the hang of it.
Although this guide will typically help you work your way through different types of dishwashers, some brands and models may have unique designs and features that work in a different way, so you may want to adjust some steps according to your own dishwasher.
Ideally, you should always give your user manual a quick skim for any special cautions and warnings that you need to be aware of before starting your dishwasher for the first time.