Yes, It Matters Which Way You Point Utensils In The Dishwasher

The dishwasher is one of the greatest conveniences of modern living, although some folks take it a little too far. Take a stroll through the back alleys of the internet, and you'll discover all kinds of bizarre kitchen "hacks" like washing potatoes in the dishwasher and, even weirder, making dishwasher-cooked fish. These are each terrible ideas in their own right, and besides, a dishwasher is useful enough as it is. Just be sure you heed Real Simple's warning not to put any wood, copper, or fancy knives in there, and you should be A-okay.

Loading the dishwasher can be like a real-life game of Tetris. After a particularly demanding recipe or a large dinner party, you're faced with the challenge of fitting every dirty item you can in betwixt the washer's racks and prongs. Everyone thinks they know the best way to optimize that precious space, and if you've ever tried doing dishes with another person, there's a good chance you wasted half of your time arguing over what goes where. No dishwashing issue is more contentious than whether you should point utensils up or down, but we're going to settle that debate right now.

Handles up

While it ultimately comes down to your own preference, the consensus among kitchen appliance makers and the professional cooks who use their equipment is that utensils should be loaded in the dishwasher with the handles facing upwards. As it turns out, the reasoning for this is pretty straightforward. GE Appliances notes that this wisdom is most applicable to knives and forks because you don't want to stab your hands with the sharp edges when loading or unloading.

But safety isn't the only reason why you'd want to place your utensils sharp-side down in the dishwasher. It's also a matter of hygiene. Martha Stewart explains that you should remove silverware from the dishwasher by the handle so your fingers don't come into contact with the part that's going into someone's mouth later. Not to judge anyone's hands, but you probably don't want to risk passing germs along to a newly-cleaned soup spoon.

Avoid overcrowding

Although many would agree placing utensils with their handles up is the most practical way to load a dishwasher, NBC notes that some may insist that forks and spoons should go in handles down in order to expose the eating surfaces to the most  water pressure possible. However, Lifehacker says you shouldn't have to worry about your utensils getting the right level of cleanliness if you evenly distribute the silverware among the compartments of the utensil rack. If you pile all the spoons and forks in the same compartments, they will crowd one another (like they do in the silverware drawer) and block water from reaching the whole surface. Instead, mix spoons, knives, and forks together in equal proportion and you'll end up with silverware that's sparkling clean.

Of course, if you still have questions, it never hurts to consult your dishwasher's manual for instructions on how to best load your utensils.