Expert reveals whether you should put your cutlery up or down in the dishwasher

An expert has revealed which way round your cutlery should face in the dishwasher to ensure it is properly cleaned.

Ashley Iredale, a product reviewer for Choice, says knives and forks should always point down when placed inside a dishwasher cutlery basket.   

Mr Iredale explained the three reasons why cutlery should point down, and his expert tips for stacking your machine correctly. 

A dishwasher expert and product reviewer at Choice has revealed why you should always have your knives and forks facing down (stock image; pictured incorrectly)


Does your cutlery point up or down in the dishwasher?

1. It’s safer

Ashley’s first reason for pointing your knives, forks and spoons downwards is that it’s safer than having prongs and blades facing up.

‘The last thing you want to do is get your clean knives and forks dirty again by bleeding all over them because you stabbed yourself reaching into the tub without due care and attention,’ Ashley told Choice. 

He added that while you’d have to be ‘especially aggressive’ to do damage to yourself with a spoon, forks can cause as much harm as knives when they’re turned upwards.

2. It’s easier to unload

Ashley’s second argument for cutlery facing down is that when they face in that direction, they are easier to grab and unload directly into your cutlery drawer. 

‘It’s not a huge deal – you’re savings seconds [this way], not days, but hey, the whole point of a dishwasher is to save time and effort in the kitchen, so every little bit counts,’ he said.

Ashley Iredale from Choice (pictured) said it's safer to have cutlery pointing down, it's easier to unload and it means fewer germs and smudges

Ashley Iredale from Choice (pictured) said it’s safer to have cutlery pointing down, it’s easier to unload and it means fewer germs and smudges

3. It means fewer germs and smudges

Lastly, the dishwasher expert said downwards is the correct direction, because it means you’re avoiding touching the ends that you eat with.

‘Your fingers are covered in germs and bacteria, so obviously you want to minimise touching any surface that’s going to come into contact with your food if you can,’ Ashley said.

He added that holding the handles also helps because it means you’re less likely to smudge the shiny blades – which is bad news if you have guests over. 

But does cutlery wash better facing upwards?

Why should your cutlery point down in a dishwasher?

1. It’s safer

2. It means fewer germs and smudges

3. It unloads easier 

Ashley said that while there is an argument for cutlery facing upwards insofar as it helps with the washing, the difference is minimal and it’s not worth the ‘risk of injury’.

Instead, you should follow his expert stacking tips – so that you know how to stack your dishwasher correctly. 

1. Avoid cutlery ‘nesting’ together

To avoid cutlery ‘nesting’ together, Ashley said you should never stack like with like.

Instead, mix up forks, knives and big and small spoons in the one basket so the water and detergent can circulate better for cleaning.

2. Avoid chef’s knives altogether

Secondly, Ashley said you should never put chef’s knives in your dishwasher – because they are made of high carbon steel, which can corrode in a dishwasher or even dull the razor’s edge.

He recommends you always wash such knives by hand.

3. Ditch the wood 

What are Ashley’s top tips for packing a dishwasher?

1. Mix up forks, knives and spoons in the one basket to avoid ‘nesting’ – so the detergent and water an circulate better.

2. Do not put chef’s knives and wooden spoons in the dishwasher ever.

3. Put your bigger utensils in the top dish rack, like long knives and chopsticks. Make sure they don’t interfere with the machine’s cleaning arm. 

In the same way that you should never put your chef’s knives in the dishwasher, Ashley said so too should you ditch your wooden spoons and chopping boards in the dishwasher.

He said there is one main reason for not putting in wooden items.

The detergent will eat away at the wood, while the heat and moisture will caue it to ‘warp and split’.

Again, simple soap and water and a hand wash will do.

4. Put bigger utensils in the top

Any bigger utensils – whether they’re long knives or chopsticks – should be stored in the top dish rack.

However, you should make sure they don’t touch the dishwasher’s cleaning arm. 

Ladles should face open side-down to avoid water pooling in them, while tongs should be at least partially open to avoid food getting stuck in them.

5. Cutlery basket versus tray – which wins?

Lastly, Ashley tackled the question of whether a basket or a tray is best – and he said that from an expert point of view, it makes no difference. 

‘I’m a basket man,’ he said.

‘I find loading and unloading each item individually in the tray is a time-consuming chore, and the cutlery tray also reduces the height of other items you can put in the dishwasher.’