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So You Think You Know How to Load a Dishwasher

6 lessons from a visit to an appliance manufacturer’s research lab

Written by Sally Finder Weepie

Talk about a teaching moment.

I’m standing beside an open LG “QuadWash” dishwasher in the company's research and development lab in suburban Chicago. It’s packed full of dishes. Most of them are in the wrong place. Because, it turns out, I have a thing or two to learn about loading a dishwasher—and other household chores. Learn from my mistakes with these tips from the lab. Because, as you can see, they do a lot of research—and a lot of dishes—here to provide the answers you need when it comes to household appliance use.


1. Place pans and bowls on their sides

Don’t be like the person (namely me) who always thought you were supposed to put the soiled side down. You can get a heck of a lot more dishes in if you slot them upright, like plates, on the bottom rack—and they’ll get cleaner if the dirty side is facing the water source, which is typically in the center of the machine.

2. Clean the filter on your dishwasher regularly

Filter? Yeah, turns out that most of today’s dishwashers have filters to trap food particles. You should clean them once a week—or at least once a month, rather than once a lifetime—to get the best performance from your washer. Unless you still own a grinder-type dishwasher. They work kind of like a garbage disposal, chopping up and washing away food waste. They’re also loud. Chatting with guests after dinner could escalate into a shouting match even if you steer clear of the political football du jour.

3. You really don’t need to pre-rinse

The fierce debate on that topic can end. Today’s dishwashers have soil-detection sensors built in. They take a look at the water, see how dirty it is, and adjust the cleaning spray accordingly. So save some time—and some water: Just scrape off any large globs of food waste and let the dishwasher take it from there. And on a related note, did you know that a dishwasher uses way less water than washing dishes by hand? Truth. 

4. Treat your stemware to a spa day

Got wineglasses? Tall wineglasses? No worries. It’s perfectly OK to load them into the dishwasher rather than washing by hand. Just tilt them sideways a bit and tuck them into the stemware holders on the upper rack. The dishwasher won't damage them. And it's fine to lay them at an angle. Don’t put them on the bottom rack, though. The cleaning spray there could get a bit too intense. Also, if you want spot-free Chardonnay, buy dishwashing detergent with a rinse agent. It’s worth the money. Finally, speaking of detergent, pods are great—they offer just the right amount of cleaning muscle.

Which takes us to the laundry room and another type of cleaning. 

You thought you had laundry piled to the ceiling. Here at the lab, they really do. And after doing all those loads of washes, they have some suggestions.

5. Stop using so much detergent

A measly 2 tablespoons of HD detergent will get your load of clothes clean. Pour in a capful, and you’re just sending your money down the drain—not to mention coating your washer with slime. And, contrary to urban legend, just like massive amounts of detergent, an agitator isn’t going to get your clothes any cleaner. But, research shows, it probably will shorten the life of your clothes when compared to washing in a front-loader.

6. Bonus factoid: The average home refrigerator is opened 56-67 times a day

Yeah, mind-blowing, right? That’s why LG developed its Door-in-Door and InstaView technology. People can take a look-see in the fridge without opening the door. And when they decide on a snack, they can open just the small door, not the entire fridge. Hello, deliciously refreshing drink. Good-bye, insane electric bills.