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Dishwasher Loading Tips: Silverware Handles Up or Down?

The question on whether the handles of eating utensils should go up or down in the dishwasher is the kitchen version of whether toilet paper should roll over or under – everyone has a preference.

Many say that the rationale for handles down is that during the rinse cycle, the water would run down to the handles and not leave water spots on the eating surfaces of the utensils. There are also those who worry that the eating surfaces would be standing in dirty dishwater, or collect food particles if the handles were up. Ewww!

Knife blade up, handle down in dishwasher basket
Handles down, but sharp pointy end up...

Those who vote for handles up believe that it’s the only way to remove the silverware without spreading germs from your hands to the eating surface. It’s also definitely the safest way to load knives, especially sharp ones. No one wants to admit they lost a knife fight to a dishwasher! I personally hand wash my sharp knives, but that’s what I was taught to do when I was growing up. Handles up is also probably the safest if you have kiddos helping load and unload the dishwasher – little hands can potentially be injured if they are accidentally stabbed by the pointy ends of forks and knives.

Handle up, and hands protected from stabby end...

GE Appliances actually provides information about proper silverware loading in their appliances, and they recommend handles up for all utensils, unless the silverware basket is overloaded, in which case they recommend that spoon handles be placed down. They also recommend that the different types of silverware be mixed within the basket to prevent nesting (which probably contributes to food being trapped between utensils).

You can avoid this entire debate in one of two ways: wash and dry the silverware by hand or get a dishwasher with a separate silverware tray where the utensils are placed horizontally rather than vertically. There is however, a very popular alternative, which is to eat out at a restaurant and let someone else worry about loading and unloading the dishwasher!

Which is your preferred method?

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