Dishwasher Loading Debate : Utensil Edition
November 25, 2011 3:19 PM   Subscribe

Which direction should the silverware point when you put it in the dishwasher?

There's an ongoing debate in my household regarding the placement of silverware in the dishwasher.

I prefer them business-end-up, because I feel like there's more room for water and soap to cleanse the utensils. My boyfriend thinks they should be handle-up, I guess because they're easier to grab once clean? Oh and because they don't risk re-contamination since you don't have to touch the food-handling end with your hands. To me, though, it seems like all the food particles have a slimmer chance of getting washed away when the dirty part of the implement is touching the little plastic dishwasher basket.

So what say you, MeFites? Which way do your forks/knives/spoons/etc. get clean most efficiently? (I have seen threads regarding plate-stacking preferences, but I didn't see any about silverware.)
posted by masquesoporfavor to Home & Garden (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Mine are always pointed up (for the same reason as you), though I have not done any double-blind studies to confirm that this is optimal.
posted by selenized at 3:21 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Knives down, everything else up. Knives down so you don't risk getting stabbed when reaching for a clean spoon in the middle of the night and everything else because why wouldn't you want the messiest part to get the most water?

As far as easier to put away, a friend loaded my dishwasher for me once and she separated all the utensils. So, when I went to unload, I grabbed a handful of teaspoons, and then a handful of forks, etc., it was a nice little surprise having them already sorted for me. Only saved me 20 seconds of time, but it was nice. Maybe you could do that for boyfriend every now and again to make him feel better about being wrong.
posted by myselfasme at 3:25 PM on November 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I try to put them handle-up to prevent any kind of careless grabbing-of-sharp-things. If your dishwasher is fully functional, both schemes should produce equally clean utensiles.
posted by muddgirl at 3:26 PM on November 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


If both ends of a piece of silverware aren't getting clean, there is a design problem with the appliance. Are you saying the bottom part of a plate you've place next to that silverware holder isn't getting clean?
posted by tomswift at 3:38 PM on November 25, 2011




I'm with muddgirl. Down, always, to keep hands from coming in contact with the eaty parts.
posted by cyndigo at 3:38 PM on November 25, 2011


The utensil caddy of my dishwasher has small little holes to separate all of the standard utensils and forks/spoons only fit handle side down. Sharp knives go in point down.
posted by rhapsodie at 3:42 PM on November 25, 2011


If both ends of a piece of silverware aren't getting clean, there is a design problem with the appliance. Are you saying the bottom part of a plate you've place next to that silverware holder isn't getting clean?

Well in all honesty our dishwasher is pretty far from top-of-the-line. It's a behemoth on wheels that we have to roll over and hook up to the sink. I apologize if I wasn't clear--plates are not a problem. I meant, it seems dirtier, to me, to put the part of a fork that is covered in food pointy-end downwards, where it will be touching the silverware basket, and so may not get completely clean because parts of the fork will be touching parts of the basket, making the food unable to be washed away because it's trapped. Wow that was a lot of words.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 3:43 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just bought a dishwasher. The instructions show knives handle-up, everything else handles-down.
posted by vorfeed at 3:45 PM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's another vote for handle-end down, except for sharp knives.

And I don't put the same utensils in the same compartment because when I tried it, the spoons 'nested' during the washing process, and came out noticeably unclean.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 3:47 PM on November 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


As far as easier to put away, a friend loaded my dishwasher for me once and she separated all the utensils. So, when I went to unload, I grabbed a handful of teaspoons, and then a handful of forks, etc., it was a nice little surprise having them already sorted for me. Only saved me 20 seconds of time, but it was nice.
I always assumed this would cause the areas where the utensils were nestled together ("spooned" if you will) to not get very clean due to no surface being exposed.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 3:47 PM on November 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


@myselfme: In my experience, grouping by utensil can lead to "nesting" and unclean utensils.
posted by tdischino at 3:49 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pointy parts down for knives; handles down for other items.

That said, I dump the basket onto a clean dishtowel before putting them away to inspect them, and to sometimes give a rub and a polish with a tea towel to make them shiny before putting them away. So then I don't have to worry about what I touch with my bare hands.
posted by peagood at 3:52 PM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Handles of everything up.

Past the knife-stabby concerns, why someone would want to touch the eating surface of dirty forks and spoons while loading them and then contaminate them while unloading is beyond me.

As an added bonus, you don't have to do the mental sorting necessary to execute a handles sometimes up, sometimes down strategy.

Also, ask your boyfriend.
posted by asuprenant at 4:08 PM on November 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


they don't risk re-contamination since you don't have to touch the food-handling end with your hands

This is reasonable if you keep the inside surface of the basket clean, but I don't think I know anybody who does that. I'm not the type who's just going to assume that the inside of a dishwasher is clean enough to eat off of.
posted by rhizome at 4:16 PM on November 25, 2011


EVERYTHING should be handle end up.

just as you would not want some schmo dishwasher/server at a restaurant touching the "mouth part" I don't want you touching the utensil part going in my mouth at your house.
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 4:25 PM on November 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


In our household it's all business ends up. It's significantly faster to sort at the end when you can instantly recognise a fork from a spoon from a knife. The handles all look the same otherwise. Being occasionally pricked with a steak knife when not paying attention is a small price to pay!
posted by birch effect at 4:37 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I organize them handle-side down. It seems to make more sense for drying - water drips downward, and all else being equals, drier is (stays) cleaner. That probably doesn't matter if you're letting the washer go through a full heated dry cycle, so maybe it's a holdover from before I had a dishwasher.
posted by WasabiFlux at 4:48 PM on November 25, 2011


Random mix. Minimizes the chances of spooning and forking in there.

The extra sorting at the end is just sorting you saved loading them, so it evens out.
posted by ctmf at 4:52 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Handles down, business end up, for the same reason surgeons put their hands business end up after scrubbing-so that any trace of germs runs down the handle, instead of from the handle to the business end. And as for touching them when putting them away- I always wash my hands first.

However, in reality I don't recall a single case of someone dying because they ate with silverware that had been washed wrong end down, whichever end that means to you.
posted by MexicanYenta at 5:09 PM on November 25, 2011


I have always done a mix. An old boyfriend of mine insisted this was the only way to ensure they were clean and to reduce the chance of them nesting/spooning with each other.
posted by Pork n Beans at 5:15 PM on November 25, 2011


We have a utensil basket in our dishwasher and it is designed in such a way that the business ends of the utensils must face up.* As my hands are already dirty from doing the dishes, I don't have an issue touching dirty utensils. And as for touching them once they're clean, we always, always wash our hands before we unload the dishwasher, so we're touching clean dishes with clean hands.

*but I have always loaded them this way.
posted by cooker girl at 5:24 PM on November 25, 2011


This is solely the decision of the person who is responsible for UNLOADING the dishwasher.

Any lazy bum can put their one dirty fork in the dishwasher. The person who is willing to unload the machine for everyone's benefit gets to decide if they want to deal with stabby, mismatched utensils.

OP, do you unload? If so, you get to decide how the utensils are loaded.
posted by 26.2 at 5:36 PM on November 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


It doesn't make a lick of difference as long as they don't nest, so this would be a good one to concede to your boyfriend. Then bank the goodwill for the next dispute.
posted by Kwine at 6:31 PM on November 25, 2011


utensil part up, handle down, except for knives.

I wash my hands before emptying the dishwasher, so no worries about contamination. i also tend to put the basket above the utensil drawer and take everything out in groups by their necks, so it's even less concern for me.
posted by batmonkey at 7:11 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Random mix, handles down, with the exception of stabby things.
Wash hands before unloading the dishwasher.

This is how God wants it done.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:51 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I put handles down because when you do the opposite, the tines of forks etc, get caught in the holes and makes it more difficult to cram more silverware in as opposed to all handles down. Also, they can sometimes get bent if it's the cheaper stuff.
posted by getmetoSF at 9:03 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the child of the mechanical engineer who designed one of the first utensil baskets in the industry:

Handles up, always for everything.

Why would you want to touch the dirty part when loading or contaminate the "business" end when unloading.

This was the designer's intent, you are free use it anyway you want.
posted by mygoditsbob at 10:58 AM on November 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


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