How to Load your Dishwasher for Clean Dishes Every Time

[Disclaimer: We have partnered with Maytag to bring you this post. All opinions are our own and are not influenced by Maytag. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog!]

The dishwasher is actually a pretty controversial appliance in our household. Specifically the loading of the dishwasher. Rinse before? No pre-rinse needed? Bowls in the top rack? Bowls in the bottom? Should you hand wash pots and pans? Seriously…so many differing opinions on the BEST way to get your dishes clean!

clean-dishes-maytag-dishwasher-kitchenI’ve always been a pre-rinse kinda gal and I usually keep big kitchen items (pots, pans, casserole dishes, etc) out of the dishwasher. I’m not sure why, but it’s just a habit I’ve gotten into.maytag-dishwasher-6

But since getting our new Maytag dishwasher, I’ve changed my tune a bit. I researched best practices for loading dishwashers (lots of interesting findings from The Institute of Home Science) as well as for my specific model. Here are my findings…

7 Tips for Squeaky Clean Dishes

how-to-load-silverware-dishwasher1. Don’t Nest Silverware: Essentially silverware should go into the machine in various ways so they don’t “nest” together (which is kinda like spooning). If they nest, then they can’t get fully cleaned. Instead, don’t group like silverware. Put spoons with forks and be sure to point some spoons down and some forks up instead of placing them all the same way. This will create variety so they all get super clean!rinse-aid-dishwasher

2. Rinse-aid is a Must: Another tip that I haven’t always followed in the past, but apparently it really is a must if you want spot-free dishes. I usually just buy a big bottle, fill it up all the way, and then monitor it every month or so to make sure it doesn’t get too low.detergent-packet-dishwasher

3. Try High-Quality Dish Packets: We’ve typically been a liquid dish soap household, but ever since getting our new Maytag dishwasher we’ve converted to the little packets. It’s what was recommended for our particular unit and I’ve found that it really does make my dishes extra clean. It’s been found that they reduce residue and they’ve really worked well for us!scraping-food-into-sink

4. Scrape, but Don’t Pre-Rinse: Finn has always been a scraper…and I’ve been a pre-rinser. And I used to yell at him for putting super dirty dishes in the dishwasher, because with our old machine they would never ever come out looking very clean.clean-dishes-maytag-dishwasher-kitchen

Now with our new dishwasher (& its super powerful motor!), there is no need to pre-rinse. In fact they say you’ll save water if you just scrape off big food chunks and then load up your dishes. If we leave any food on the plate, the chopper in the dishwasher disintegrates the food particles so they don’t recirculate in the wash. Think of all the time (& the dry hands!) we will all save by doing this!tupperware-dishwasher

5. Put Dishwasher-safe Plastic Up Top: We use a lot of tupperware (don’t look at our tupperware drawer though…it’s packed to the brim!), so there is some in just about every cycle we run with our dishwasher. First, make sure your tupperware is dishwasher-safe. If it is, put it on the top rack in the middle facing down towards the sprayer!clean-dishes-plates

6. Top vs Bottom: Cups, bowls, and big utensils go up top. Pots and pans, large dishes, and plates go on the bottom. As a bowl on the bottom girl…I need to change my ways!distilled-white-vinegar

7. Keep your Dishwasher Clean: Again, another tip that I need to do a lot more often. Our dishwasher never gets too dirty, but film does build-up after lots of cycles. To combat that, just put 2 cups of white vinegar in a cup on the bottom rack and run a normal cycle without detergent. This will help remove white spots and film in your appliance!

The exterior of our dishwasher is fingerprint resistant stainless steel (amazing, right?!) so I barely have to wipe it off because it always looks clean & shining. But for the few times I do wipe the outside down, I simply wipe it down with a damp cloth and it looks as good as new in no time!  clean-dishes-cupboard-kitchen

Armed with those 7 tips, I’m vowing to make the most of my dishwasher and get the cleanest dishes possible. Now I want to know…are you particular with the way you load your dishwasher? I feel like everyone has their own way of doing it in their house! Would love to hear!

P.S. This is our final post with Maytag. I officially gave you all the scoop on all of our new appliances over the past 6 months. If you’re shopping for new ones, I’d definitely recommend checking these ones out because I’ve been really happy with each of these new pieces.  Also, May is Maytag month so there will be some great deals heading your way soon!





  • Maggie

    Hi Casey! Great tips! Where are your white dishes from?

    • Thanks Maggie! They’re from Crate & Barrel. Here’s a link to the exact collection.
      We got them for our wedding and absolutely love them years later! Can’t go wrong with white.

  • Erin

    we just got white plates from crate & barrel. and let me tell you – BEST decision ever. things just look prettier on white plates. but we have colorful bowls! So i’m one lucky girl cuz my husband does the dishes — mostly. however, we basically only run the dishwasher once a week, so i feel weird if we don’t pre rinse. But its not like we scrub it down, but it still gets somewhat of a rinse.

    • Love white plates! So classic, you really can’t go wrong. Wow, so amazing that your husband does ALL the dishes. Can’t even believe you only run it 1x per week. That’s amazing!

  • Those are helpful tips! I have been having some issues with our dishwasher which is only 3 years old, and wonder if the vinegar trick would help. I have poured vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher and run it without dishes but didn’t notice a difference. I am curious about the cup of vinegar trick. Can you elaborate a bit more on that? Do you use like, a coffee mug, filled with vinegar on the bottom rack? When we bought our house 4 years ago, we did a complete kitchen Reno, and my rookie mistake was installing the dishwasher too far away from the sink. It made sense estetically but has impacted the functionality of the dishwasher, plus loading is a pain because we scrape and rinse the dishes in the sink and then transfer them into the dishwasher which is on the other side of the kitchen. You know what they say about hindsight!

    • The vinegar really helps with buildup! I usually just do a bowl in the top rack filled with vinegar, or a cup on the bottom filled with it. Then I’ll run a hot cycle. I think the water kinda mixes in with it and it gets rid of grime and musty odors. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

  • shawnna griffin

    Hey girl- love the tips!

  • Pam

    Great Tips. Thanks for sharing. Will definitely try the vinegar.

    • Thanks so much Pam! Definitely let us know how it goes.