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Wednesday, October 25, 2023

What's Your Dishwasher-Loading Protocol?

If you use an automatic dishwasher, and it's more than just yourself in your household, how do you go about loading the dishwasher. If you hand wash dishes, I get it. Sometimes with just one or two people, hand washing makes more sense.

We all try to get value for what we spend, right? So fitting as much as will actually get clean into an automatic dishwasher only makes sense, saving both water and energy.

With that in mind, do you prefer to have household members add their dishes to the dishwasher as they use them, or do you prefer to be the one loading the dishwasher and ask members to stack dishes in the sink or on the drainboard area of your counter?

I ask because every time the dishwasher is getting near to full, enough to run a load, I have to pull out about a third of the items and reload those to make more fit. In my house, we all add our dishes as we use them. But I sometimes think it would be more efficient if I asked everyone to stack dishes in the sink. Then when I had time, I'd load it all as tightly as is reasonable. 

The way we've set up dishwasher chores in our household is the other 3 people take turns unloading the dishwasher, while I always finish loading it, getting as much in a possible, then start it.

If I asked my family to stack dishes in the sink, I actually think they'd like that. So I could load everything how I see fit, while making them happy. But that would also mean that dirty dishes would be out for the most of a day.

I also use the dishwasher for mixing bowls, casserole dishes, cutting boards, and some pots and pans, so it's more than just plates and glasses, which because they are of one pattern will tessellate well.

Anyways, what are your thoughts on loading the dishwasher? Do you prefer to be the one who does the loading? Do you work to make as much fit in as possible, or is that not a priority to you?

Tell me what you think.


  1. When the kids were little I used my dishwasher every single day and only once per day. I don't even remember who loaded it but I know once in a while I needed to fit more things in so I would rearrange but how they got into the dishwasher I can't remember. These days, I use my dishwasher once in a great while. Maybe once a month and that is only to make sure it runs properly. We mostly wash dishes by hand since we're just two of us and we don't make many dirty dishes throughout the day.

    1. Hi Alice,
      I can picture myself hand washing dishes when my daughters move into their own places, then using the dishwasher when we have guests for meals. That's a good idea to run the dishwasher about once a month, not only to ensure it runs properly, but in my area, to clean it out and deter mold.
      Thanks for sharing.

  2. I load the dishwasher. No way would I have my husband do it. I run the dishwasher every other day and things must fit to do that. He'll help clear the table and put dishes in the sink.

    1. Hi Cheryl,
      That's me in our house. I know how to make things fit in order to maximize space and ensure things get clean.
      Thanks for sharing what you do in your house.

  3. I prefer that we load dishes as we use them rather than have them sitting there cluttering the counters or sink. We often run two loads, especially if I'm doing any meal prep (for us or the dogs) chores or extra cooking and baking during the day. The kids (three still home) take turns unloading. They each have two assigned days of the week when they are responsible for unloading the dishwasher and then doing dishes after dinner (we still have plenty to hand wash). On Sundays, my husband and I do that. My husband is actually the person who comes along and rearranges the dishwasher even after me, even though I think I do it quite efficiently myself. I try to remind myself if I get irritated at this that at least he is helpful around the house.


    1. P.S. I was able to comment today! For the last couple weeks or so, I haven't been able to and never could figure out why. Assuming it was on my end somehow as I could see comments from others. I've written out comments at least three times prior and wasn't able to get them to publish.

    2. Hi Cat,
      Something I didn't consider -- many kitchens don't have the counter space to stack dishes and cook for the next meal. Our old kitchen had very little counter space. there's no way I could have allowed dishes to sit there and still have space to cook. And you're right, leaving them until later would make the kitchen cluttered. I like your attitude about your husband's help. I agree, it is better to encourage husbands to help and put our own pride aside occasionally.

      I don't know why some of us (including me) can't always comment on my blog. It's frustrating. I wish I knew how to prevent this. Thanks for continuing to try, though.

  4. We just keep the dishes in the sink and I load it all at once. I have a very deep sink so it’s not that big a deal. Dirty dishes just don’t bother me lol. I usually load it during the afternoon and then top it off either while cooking dinner, or after we eat. I run it every day or two.


    1. Hi Diane,
      This is what I'm considering -- asking family to stack dishes in the sink, then I could load the dishwasher likely just before I cook dinner. It would save me time rearranging everything.
      Thanks for sharing what you do.

  5. Oh, you have hit on one of my trigger issues! :) Mostly I have family stack dishes on the countertop after a meal and I load them, since I try to fit them in as efficiently as possible. However, if I'm not around for a few meals (at work or whatnot), my husband loads the dishwasher. I almost always end up rearranging it afterwards to both fit in more items as well as to ensure things get properly washed. I fully recognize that this is an area where I am pretty anal, and that I haven't allowed my kids to learn much about loading dishwashers, but I can't seem to stop myself from doing it that way. :)

    1. Hi Kris,
      I can relate. There are a few areas that I really didn't allow my kids to learn from their own experience. I've tried to change that in recent years. So you could always switch things up now or over breaks when your son is home, too.

      While I appreciate when my family helps with the dishwasher loading, I really do think I get more in while still having everything get clean. Perhaps you and I simply have more experience loading dishwashers efficiently.

      Thanks for sharing what you do in your house.

  6. Two of us..I load..that let's me do it My Way after each meal. Probably revealing way too much about!

    1. Hi Linda,
      I love how you capitalized My and Way! Yep, I'm a bit guilty of that too. Especially as I've been the primary caretaker of the home all of these years, I have developed specific ways to do various things. And it's hard to let go of this mindset.

      Thank you for sharing.

  7. We got a new dishwasher last year, and it took a little time until I figured out how to load it to get everything clean. I have been known to reload things to achieve that now. I personally would rather have dirty dishes in the dishwasher than in the sink even if I have to rearrange. I learned an important lesson several years back. My son was home for the summer, and it was his job on certain days to cook and clean the kitchen. As I watched him load the dishwasher, I realized that what he was doing was more efficient than my way. I used his method after that. Sometimes it's good to have a fresh set of eyes. :)

  8. Lynn from NC Outer BanksOctober 26, 2023 at 6:38 PM

    I'm also the dishwasher rearranger. My husband puts dishes in but I frequently move them about for maximal efficiency and capacity. When my family first got a dishwasher, it was my chore. I've loaded dishwashers since I was 12, so I'm an expert and can fit way more in than others! Now that it's just the 2 of us, we run the dishwasher about every third day, so I do lightly rinse-not wash-them prior to loading. I do tend to go on and load them after eating so they don't crowd the sink or counters. I like the dirty dishes being out of sight!


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