Has anyone ever cited misloading of the dishwasher as grounds for divorce?  

Umm ……. especially as there continues to be Mexican wave of dishwasher dramas in households up and down the land, so if not already, it just may be on the horizon! 

Love it or hate it, the dishwasher is a piece of kitchen kit here to stay and widely seen as a must have gadget to replace the marigolds and numerous arguments over who is washing up!  And let us not forget it is an excellent place to successfully hid dirty dishes or even clean ones to achieve instant clear worksurfaces or for those occasions when someone makes an unplanned visit. Yes, it is true, Mrs Bouquet is never too far away, and no one wants to give the impression they live like pigs. 

Or perhaps it is an unnecessary evil and the root cause for more arguments?  

So, what can the art of stacking or slacking where is comes to a dishwasher tell you about human behaviour?  

Have you ever noticed how badly other people stack the dishwasher or is it you who is regularly accused of not being competent enough to do the deed correctly?   

Without sitting down and studying the instructions (who has got time for that?), do we know how to get the best results by packing and stacking appropriately, should it be knives up or down? Who hasn’t occasionally stabbed themselves during the unloading stage?  So, is it handles up and blades down to avoid injury? What about forks? Is it forks down for safety, but up for the best results?  or in fact do we know how to use it really? Can we with confidence say we can load and operate this piece of machinery designed to make our lives easier?  

Or is it really about dishwashers at all? As the dishwasher could merely be a metaphor. For everything. Too deep? However, to stack or not to stack where it comes to a dishwasher tells you some deeply profound findings about human psychology, and ones that might have a much broader relevance beyond dishwashers.  Having a barney about the layout of the dishwasher can be a symbol for many things like having a sense of power, giving your partner the finger, or just wanting to follow your own rules

Do you ever rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher? As this could be classed as your biggest dishwasher crime, the correct procedure is to just scrape and go and not waste water.  By rinsing you are quashing a water-efficient dishwasher, let us not forget the whole point of these things are to get rid of dirt. 

Perhaps you stack bowls one behind the other?  Oh no, mistake number two, and this unspeakable behaviour even has been given a name: shadowing. Shadowing is a huge problem especially with deeper bowls and larger items as the water cannot get in to clean the dishes properly.  When you start analysing what you have been doing or not doing you realise the majority of the population are at fault! 

The big question is do dishwashers have to be stacked correctly or can it be down to freestyling and everyone doing their own thing? At the end of the day, does it matter? 

So, are those people who choose to rearrange the contents of a dishwasher being hostile or genuinely trying to help?  Are they trying to get one over on you or wanting to share their knowledge? 

I am still confused about those who feel that it is their role in life to come along uninvited and then loudly both in voice and actions begin to arrange the contents of the dishwasher in specific symmetrical patterns and orderly fashion.  More so as before they arrived the dishwasher was ready, ready for the off, the powder was just about to be placed into the appropriate hole, a washing cycle had already been planned and yet everything comes to a halt because of an OCD member of the family (namely my husband) who decides at the eleventh hour to take it upon himself to rearrange the dishwasher. 

Is he being a DORF, which stands for a Dishwasher Organising Rearranging Fairy (similar to the fairies that come and clean the house whilst we sleep) or because you are wide awake and now being ushered and pushed out of the way with accusations flying that the stacking has been carried out by a small child, is he more like a DDOFDTASAIAPUITK a Dishwasher Destroyer of Free Dishwashing Techniques and simply an Interfering Annoying Person Unwelcome in the Kitchen.  Although challenging to pronounce I can guarantee for me, it is always the latter. 

Is this act of supposed kindness and consideration classed as A) hostility (as in, he is trying to relay a clear message that I didn't do it right), B) meddling C) mental illness, D) just being obnoxious, E) lack of things to occupy his time (BFBM- Big Fat Boredom Moment) F) Control Freak G)none of the above which then lends to other more dark and sinister rationale being concluded. 

However, the rationale for me getting so het up and angry by this act of pretend helpfulness dressed up as doing me a favour I was just about to push the button and now he is pressing mine for the wrong reasons!  I was fine and then within a few moments I feel like squeezing him into the dishwasher! 

There is nothing more infuriating than someone undermining your ability to do anything especially when it comes to stacking a variety of items within a small space which doesn’t take Einstein to work out that certain items go into the top shelf leaving others to house the bottom and we don’t need a map or drawn diagram to work out what the cutlery basket is for. 

In our particular dwelling there are two types of dishwasher stackers excluding my good self which fall into either the obsessive or the unwilling.   

The obsessive is my husband and the unwilling are my children/teenagers/young people/old enough to know better who choose to ignore the dishwasher completely and opt to stack any dishes in the sink along with anything else that requires cleaning (sometimes they don’t even make it as far as the sink and just sit on the counter waiting patiently). The worse case and most frequent scenario is when discarded mugs and glasses become invisible to the naked eye and both children/teenagers/young people/old enough to know better then suddenly without notice contact mug & glass blindness which can easily then escalate into cupboard and fridge blindness (a whole new subject not to be bogged down with at present and detract against the plight of the dishwasher stacking predicament we originally and so often find ourselves in – BTW there is a piece on cupboard blindness called Behind You). 

Teaspoons in their world appear to be totally exempt from any civilised dishwasher protocols as apparently, they self-clean in the sink.  As for any more challenging shaped utensils or perhaps bowls which sometimes can prove to be a tricky conundrum to solve in where to place them for the best, they are usually flummoxed by this beyond comprehension and therefore just walk away emerged in mobile phone activity. 

To these inexperienced verging on virgin dishwasher users even opening the dishwasher door can prove to be both hazardous and tiring.  If on the rare occasions they manage to achieve this task, they quickly retreat if the front of the dishwasher looks full not bothering to check out the rest concluding it must be full once again taking solace in snapchat or Instagram. 

During these frustrating times, I too am judgmental where it comes to the dishwasher but instead of rolling my eyes, making huffy puffy noises and exhaling like a pig with asthma, I opt to offer to share my pearls of dishwasher wisdom not that they stay around long enough to listen or appreciate them! 

But on the other end of the scale when dealing with the obsessive, my husband who seems to be under the impression he is an expert in the field of dishwasher stacking and without my knowledge has taken a degree on how to do this, prefers not to choose the nice approach on viewing what he describes as a disaster zone accusing me of bringing small children into the house to carry out this particular chore!  Instead he is more than comfortable with being over critical whilst pushing me out of his way as he sets about anally rearranging plates, cups and cutlery and not without telling me I have no idea and repeating that he just couldn’t stand by and watch as though I had been doing brain surgery incorrectly!  His ultimate insult with a patronising ‘let me show you how it’s done’ and that is where all interest is lost and I step away from the dishwasher, the rude man and take a leaf out of my children/teenagers/young people/old enough to know better books and walk away to locate my phone!

But we are not alone more than 40% of couples fight about how to stake dishes and normally not only is it stupid but its because each one has their own style yet there is always one in the partnership that seems to think he is right (sorry long suffering husbands out there). 

So, what is the solution?  Well one of the dishwashers has a Tetris style dishwashing game which should put back the fun and take away the arguments and of course there has to be a commonsense approach when it comes to this chore.  Of course, there are obvious things to do and not to do and if we all follow the guidelines then what can go wrong? 


  • Wait until full before using – sounds bleeding obvious (is bleeding obvious!)
  • Know what the top and bottom racks are for; Use the top rack for items such as bowls, mugs, and glasses, as well as large silverware and utensils. The top rack is also where you should place dishwasher-safe plastics, to prevent them from warping. Bottom rack: Plates, large bowls, pots, and pans should go on the bottom. Put the biggest pieces to the sides so they do not block the sprayer.
  • Place and angle any curved dishes like bowls with the dirtiest surface downward.
  • Scrape off large pieces of food
  • Empty the bottom shelf first to prevent unnecessary dripping
  • Use powder – less expensive than tabs and just as effective
  • Put your spoons facing up, forks facing up and knives facing down
  • Check that all spray arms will spin freely without hitting any surface
  • Clean your dishwasher regularly
  • Mix cutlery, instead of grouping the same types together
  • Keep your rinse-aid dispenser filled to make sure everything dries streak-free.


Do not

  • Rinse the plates before you put them in the dishwasher – you water waster!
  • Overcrowd, make sure there is enough room in-between plates
  • Lay large pots and pans face down. Big items should be loaded on their sides, not face down.
  • NEVER block the detergent dispenser with a large item. If the dispenser does not open fully, the dishes will not get clean.
  • Face everything in the same direction. Water sprays from the centre so you want the dirtiest part of your plates pointed toward the spray.


Items You Should Never Put in The Dishwasher

  • You may be tempted to save time and throw the whole kitchen sink into the dishwasher. However, some items will get damaged by sitting through cycles of harsh soap and extra hot water.
  • Cast iron: Putting cast iron pans in the dishwasher will destroy the coating and cause them to become rusty.
  • Delicate pieces: Avoid loading anything that could break easily, such as crystal or china
  • Non-stick pans: Even though many non-stick pans claim to be dishwasher safe, repeatedly exposing them to the hot water and detergents will break down the coating. It is best to hand-wash these.
  • Wood utensils and cutting boards: Avoid putting any wooden items in the dishwasher. “Wood is porous and cannot sustain the amount of water that a dishwasher uses to clean.
  • Sharp knives: Any chef will tell you that sharp knives are to be hand-washed. “A dishwasher exposes them to too much water and shortens their lifespan.
  • Fine metals and finishes: “Certain finishes such as silver or enamelled items should be hand washed only, as the heat and detergents can ruin the finish
  • Anything that is not dishwasher safe: It may seem obvious, but always check dishes to be sure they are safe for dishwashers. Some items, such as certain plastics, are not.

 Happy Dishwashing!