How to Load a Dishwasher Top Rack? A Comprehensive Guide

Dishwashers are one of the most hardworking home appliances. They do the heavy lifting in our kitchens daily and work overtime during holidays and gatherings. However, even the best dishwashers won’t do the job if loaded improperly.

Overfilling the machine and placing platters and cutlery in the wrong spots are common mistakes that can leave grime on your place settings at the end of a wash.

This article provides a detailed guide on properly loading a dishwasher top rack, ensuring that your dishes come out clean every time.

How Does the Top Rack of a Dishwasher Work?

The top rack of a dishwasher is designed for lighter, delicate items such as glasses, cups, and dishwasher-safe plastic items. The dishwasher’s water jets are positioned to clean the items placed on the top rack effectively.

The top rack is also usually further away from the heating element, making it safer for plastic items that could distort from the heat.

Understanding Your Dishwasher’s Top Rack

The top rack of a dishwasher is typically designed with rows of tines (prongs) where you can hang mugs, cups, wine glasses, and water bottles upside down. There may also be smaller spaces for small bowls and plates.

Some dishwashers have special compartments or holders for extra tall utensils or fragile items.

Step-by-Step Guide to Loading the Top Rack

Here is a step-by-step guide to loading the top rack of your dishwasher:

  1. Placement of mugs, cups, wine glasses, and water bottles: These should be placed upside down along the sides of the top rack. This allows the water jets to clean the inside of these items effectively.
  2. Positioning of small bowls and plates: These should be placed between the tines on the top rack. Ensure they are secure and won’t move around during the wash cycle.
  3. Loading extra tall utensils: If your dishwasher has a special compartment or holder for tall utensils, these can be laid on their sides in this area.
  4. Loading fragile items: Items like cups, dishwasher-safe plastic, and small bowls should be placed carefully on the top rack. Avoid overcrowding these items as they increase the risk of breakage and obstruct water flow and detergent.
  5. Placing bulky utensils: Large utensils, like spatulas, spoons, and forks, can be nestled in the larger spaces on the top rack.

How Do You Load a Bosch Dishwasher Top Rack?

Correctly loading a Bosch dishwasher top rack can help ensure your dishes come out clean and undamaged. Here are some tips:

  • Adjust the Rack: Bosch dishwashers often have an adjustable top rack. You can raise or lower the rack to accommodate different sizes of dishes. Grab both sides and pull up or push down to adjust the frame.
  • Place the Right Items: The top rack is ideal for lighter, delicate items such as glasses, cups, and dishwasher-safe plastic items. Ensure that these items are placed facing down to allow the water jets to clean them effectively.
  • Avoid Overloading: Overloading the dishwasher can prevent water and detergent from reaching all the dishes, leading to less effective cleaning. Make sure there’s enough space between each dish or utensil.
  • Use the Third Rack: Some Bosch dishwashers have a third rack, perfect for bulky or odd-shaped items. This rack can also be used for long utensils and small cups or bowls.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Loading the Top Rack

When loading the top rack of your dishwasher, avoid these common mistakes:

Overcrowding Items

This increases the risk of breakage and obstructs the flow of water and detergent. If dishwashers are overcrowded, the detergent and water can’t circulate to clean your dishes thoroughly—and some may not even get cleaned at all. It’s recommended to separate large loads or hand wash some items.

Trying to pack every dirty dish at once may defeat the whole purpose.

Incorrect Placements

Plastic Items

These items should always be placed on the top rack. Especially put away from any heating element, which can distort the thing.


Dishes should always go on the bottom rack because it’s specifically designed to hold them. Packing plates on the top can interfere with how other items fit and are cleaned.

Glasses or Mugs

When you’re getting close to a full load, it’s hard to resist filling a few stray glasses wherever they fit, but the upper rack is designed specifically to clean glasses and cups. Place glass and dishwasher-safe plastic cups face down, so water can reach inside.

Bulky Utensils

Serving spoons and spatulas made of plastic or metal should be placed flat on the top rack. Some dishwashers even have a separate rack designed explicitly for utensils. Just keep them out of the utensil basket since they could block other utensils or dishes from getting properly cleaned.

Non-Dishwasher-Safe Items

The hot water could melt or warp plastic containers, crack wooden spoons, and discolour gold flatware. Plus, putting nonstick cookware through the dishwasher can cause its coating to break down and flake off.

Using the Same Setting Repeatedly

Dishwashers are more high-tech than ever—but most people still only use the “Default” setting for every wash. That means the proper thing you should do is get out the old instruction manual and figure out the best setting for every type of wash, whether large platters with caked-on leftovers or fragile wine glasses.

Remember, the key to a well-functioning dishwasher is not just about how you load it but also about understanding its features and using them correctly.

Causes of Bad Dishwasher Top Rack Loading

Improper loading of the dishwasher top rack can lead to dishes not getting cleaned properly. Here are some common causes:

Blocked Spray Arms

If the spray arms are blocked due to bad dishwasher top rack loading, it will be the main reason for not getting cleaned effectively. The spray arms spin and shoot water at high pressure to clean your dishes. If large pots or pans obstruct them, they cannot do their job correctly.


Overloading the dishwasher can prevent water and detergent from reaching all the dishes, leading to less effective cleaning. Make sure there’s enough space between each dish or utensil1.

Incorrect Dish Placement

Dishes should be loaded facing down for the water jets to clean them effectively. If dishes are placed in the wrong direction, they may not get cleaned properly.

Maintaining Your Dishwasher’s Top Rack

Maintaining your dishwasher’s top rack is crucial for optimal performance. To keep the performance of the top rack, you should consider the following things.

  • Ensure the top rack is correctly positioned: It should be pushed entirely inside the dishwasher to work perfectly.
  • Avoid Running Multiple Appliances at Once: It can reduce the water pressure in your dishwasher.
  • Inspect the Water Supply Hose: If the water supply hose is damaged, it could result in a significant pressure loss.
  • Clean the Water Inlet Filter: Over time, the water inlet filter might become, reducing water pressure on the machine.
  • Check the Spray Arm Seal: If the seal is damaged, it could result in low water pressure.
  • Clean the Spray Arm: If the debris and dishwasher residues block the tiny holes, it prevents the spraying of enough water to clean the dishes on the top rack.
  • Check the Circulation Pump: The top rack will not clean properly if the circulation pump fails to force pressurized water through the spray arm. One clear sign that the circulation pump is on the fritz is loud bumping noises from the dishwasher.
  • Proper Loading and Detergent Use: Improperly loading the machine or using too much detergent can lead to dishes on the top rack being only partially cleaned or streaky.

How Do You Load a 3-Drawer Dishwasher?

Loading a 3-drawer dishwasher properly can help ensure your dishes come out clean and undamaged. Here are some tips:

  • Bottom Rack: The bottom rack is typically used for larger and heavier items like pots, pans, and plates. These items should be placed at an angle facing the dishwasher’s centre for the best cleaning results.
  • Middle Rack: The middle rack is ideal for smaller items like bowls, cups, and glasses. These items should be placed facing down to allow the water jets to clean them effectively.
  • Top Rack or Third Drawer: The top rack or third drawer is perfect for utensils and small, lightweight items. Place these items face down on the rack, leaving enough space between each utensil to allow soap and water to reach all surfaces.

Remember, every dishwasher model is different, and it’s always a good idea to refer to your dishwasher’s user manual for specific loading instructions.


Properly loading a dishwasher top rack is crucial for achieving clean, undamaged dishes. To get sparkly clean items out of the top rack of the dishwasher, mainly understanding the function of the top rack is highly important. Following a step-by-step guide to packing it, avoiding common mistakes, and maintaining the rack, will help to optimize your dishwasher’s performance. Whether you have a standard dishwasher or a 3-drawer model, these tips should help you get the most out of your appliance.

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