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Should you load your dishwasher with the silverware up or down?

The best way to load flatware into a dishwasher is a hotly debated topic in many households. Whether you like your knives, forks, and spoons facing up or down, the goal is washing dishes so everything comes out clean and dry every time. As the appliance experts, we went ahead and did the research for you. There's a reason this debate is so confusing.

The best way to load your dishwasher varries from model to model. No wonder households can't seem to agree! If you feel inclined, you can always reference the manual for your exact dishwasher. The manufacturers will spoon feed the right method for your model.

As the appliance experts, we want to put a fork in the ground on this debate. Today’s dishwashers do a great job of cleaning. Whether you are a ‘points up’ or ‘points down’ loader is widely a matter of preference. From our experience, as long as you don't crowd the basket, you will get clean flatware every time.

Newer models are built to clean your dishes and utensils regardless of how you place them in the racks. Soil sensors shine a laser at your dishes at several points over the cycle, checking for food particles. When the laser senses clean dishes, the cycle time will end.

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Most dishwashers come with a silverware basket. Most baskets go on the lower rack, yet some models keep it on the door for extra loading capacity on the lower level. Since cutlery baskets are portable, you can move them from the dishwasher to your silverware drawer for easy loading and unloading.

Whirlpool Silverware Basket

If you like to load your cutlery 'points up,' you'll love that many newer models come with a lattice-like plastic covering that makes it easy to load as each utensil gets its own slot. The separators will prevent nesting of silverware. Loading your flatware with the points facing upward is the best way to avoid crowding in the cutlery basket. Just make sure to avoid sharp edges when loading and unloading the basket. It’s recommended to load sharp knives with the points facing down.

If you like to load your cutlery 'points down,' then you will want to remove the lattice-like plastic covering that comes with your basket. Loading your dishwasher with the points down is ideal for safety as you only touch knives with the handles. 'Points down' loading is also thought to be more hygienic as you won't handle the part of your spoons and forks that will eventually go in someone's mouth. The downside is crowding. So, if you have a lot of flatware to wash, make sure you spread it out evenly in the basket for best results.

Samsung dw80r5060ug stainless flush handle dishwasher

A three rack dishwasher is an excellent solution for households that can’t resolve this age-old debate. Many dishwashers include a third rack for extra capacity. You can do away with the cutlery basket and keep your flatware at waist-level for more effortless loading and unloading. This top-rack is especially useful for cleaning sharp knives and cooking tools.

Bosch 300 Series Stainless Dishwasher SHX863WD5N with Cutlery Rack

Although it seems like a lot of work to line up your flatware in neat little rows, you will love how clean everything comes out. Plus, putting your utensils away is easier than expected. The third rack pulls out to waist-level (so no more bending over to get that basket). As long as you keep all the silverware handles going in the same direction, you can quickly grab a handful and start sorting.

Many brands will ship with both a cutlery caddy and a third rack so you can decide how you want to load your dishwasher. Again, today’s dishwashers perform so how you load your silverware is still a matter of preference.

There's no wrong way to load your dishwasher per se. But you want to make sure to consider your safety and the durability of your items to avoid accidents. Although broken utensils are rare, we always recommend hand washing valuables.

For best drying performance, and to avoid water marks, make sure to add rinse aid to your dishwasher. Depending on how often you run it, most households refill the rinse aid dispenser every 10 days. When you notice wet dishes at the end of a cycle, you know it’s time to refill the dispenser.

After the cycle is completed, it’s a good idea to wait for your items to cool down before unloading. When unloading the dishwasher, it is best to start with the silverware basket. Doing so will prevent water droplets from falling on your silverware from the upper rack. Avoid leaving your completed load in the racks for days at a time. It’s uncommon but rust spots can appear on flatware if left unattended in the dishwasher for too long.

miele touch to open dishwasher

The best way to avoid rust is to make sure your flatware is dishwasher safe before running a cycle. If you are concerned about washing a particular item in the dishwasher, make sure you do your research. Dishwasher rated items should be fine. To avoid melting, some plastics might be rated ‘top rack only’ to reduce proximity to a heating element under the lower rack. Avoid placing acrylics, bone-handled utensils, iron, pewter, brass, bronze, tin, and wood items as they can crack, warp, stain, or rust.

Recommendations by Brand


  • Place knives and sharp utensils with their handles up and forks and spoons with their handles down. If large or oddly shaped items are loaded in the silverware basket, be sure they do not nest together.

  • You can place each knife, spoon, or fork separately into the spoon stands in the basket’s covers to prevent chipping and discoloration. Using the basket covers is optional but recommended. Samsung does not specify points up or down, however the illustration in their user manuals suggest that they recommend knives point down, and other utensils stems down.

  • LG
    Load sharp knives with the handles up to reduce the risk of cuts. For best cleaning results, use the top separators in the basket when loading silverware. The separators will prevent nesting of silverware.

  • GE
    Place flatware in the removable silverware baskets. Sharp objects, such as forks and knives, may be placed with the handles facing up, to protect your hands. For the best wash performance, place other items such as spoons with the handles facing down. Avoid allowing items to nest together, which may keep them from being properly washed. When loading, distribute items evenly in the basket. The silverware baskets may also be used for small items, such as measuring spoons, baby bottle nipples, plastic lids, or corn cob holders. The silverware basket covers can be closed to contain small items.

  • When loading silverware, always place sharp items pointing down. Mix items in each section of the basket with some pointing up and some down to avoid nesting. Spray cannot reach nested items. Use slots in the covers and suggested loading patterns to keep your silverware separated for optimum wash.

  • Do not mix silver and stainless to avoid damaging the silver finish. Mix items in each section of the basket with some pointing up and some down to avoid nesting. Water spray cannot reach nested items.

  • Many Miele models ship with the third cutlery rack and the cutlery basket is offered as an additional accessory. When loading the cutlery rack, line up flatware horizontally on its side. To make unloading much easier, cutlery should be grouped in zones, one for knives, one for forks, one for spoons, etc. If you add the cutlery basket, Miele recommends knives and forks should be placed with the handles upwards in the basket for safety. However, cutlery placed handle down in the basket will come out cleaner and drier.