My husband and I are constantly arguing over the best way to stack the dishwasher. Is there a right way? Send help.

I don’t know which side of the argument you’re on, Stacks, but I can tell you this: there is a right way. Here goes.

First, and this might seem obvious, but bear with me: heavy items go on the bottom. This is to avoid breakages, but also because you want to keep the top, which tends to have more tines (ie those poky-outy bits), for smaller items that need more structure. So: pots, pans, trays – these all go at the bottom. When you’re putting them in, be sure you don’t place anything over the detergent outlet: this can interfere with how much soap can be accessed.

Second, smaller items at the top. Cups, mugs, glasses and bowls all belong up here. Make sure they’re set on an angle so that water can drain off the tops. Pooling dishwasher water isn’t exactly known for its purity.

Third, cutlery – stack it properly. The useful side always faces up (ie the tines of a fork, the blade of a knife) so that they can be cleaned properly. When you’re doing this, though, be sure that spoons and forks don’t “nest” with one another, as they won’t get clean this way. The best way to avoid nesting is to mix up your cutlery so you don’t have a square of just forks, or just spoons.

For maximum water spray coverage, place the dirty sides of your dishes inwards – the centre is where the action is. If you’re not using the dishwasher straight away, pre-rinse your dishes. It helps.

Never place items on top of each other, of course – there just won’t be room for the water and detergent to do its thing.

And take heed of the stuff you should never put in the dishwasher in the first place – cast iron pans, good-quality knives, crystal glasses. Dishwashers are fantastic, but they essentially work like sandpaper, blasting your dishes with hot water and soap until the dirt falls off. Delicate items should be kept far away from them.

When you’re unloading, be sure to remove everything from the bottom shelf first, so that if there’s any water remaining on items on the top shelf, it doesn’t spill on the bottom.

And finally, consider storage: your detergent will go clumpy if left in a humid place (ahem, under the sink) so keep it in a cool, dry place.

I hope you win the argument.

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