Cutlery up or down? We solve the great dishwasher debate

It’s the age-old argument that can fire up family members and divide offices – should your cutlery point up or down in the dishwasher? Leave your thoughts below.


"Another common argument for putting knives pointing up is that water will run down and off the blade when drying, and not leave blemishes.

Ash concedes this can be an issue with cutlery facing downwards, especially with cheaper, harsher dishwasher powders. He advises quickly polishing off water or rust spots with a tea towel or soft cloth. Again, he says, putting knives up isn’t worth the safety risk."

If you are going to have to use a tea towel then you may as well have the cutlery pointing upward to get a better clean and not leave water stains. Just use the tea towel to remove the cutlery from the rack. Then there is no contact with the cutlery, and you don’t need to polish.

I would never put good quality chef’s knives into the dishwasher anyway. Other than that, I agree with placing other sharp equipment point down for safety. Most cutlery isn’t sharp enough to go through a tea towel so can be point up.


We use the cutlery tray in our dishwasher, and as we clean all food traces off everything before it goes into the dishwasher, we have no rust or stain problems and the dishwasher does not smell bad.

We mainly use it so as to sterilize everything.

I would never put a good knife into a dishwasher again after the alloy rivets in a cook’s knife corroded away.


Totally agree with the points meltam makes about putting the cutlery into dishwasher cutlery basket with the business ends up (and the handles down).

When handwashing in the sink and then putting cutlery into the drainer basket it is the other way around for a few reasons:-

  • different temperature and detergent regime for washing by hand (with respect to water stains)
  • the person who picks the cutlery up to dry it will have the teatowel in one hand and use the other hand to pick the cutlery item up by its handle in order to dry. It is far too awkward to pick the knife or fork etc up by the pointy end with the teatowel and then turn it around (and swap hands for the teatowel) to dry it.

Maybe the confusion over which end up in the dish washer is from people applying their past handwashing and drying training?



A great topic, but not a universal one.

Bosch, Miele, and others.

In a F&P drawer style DW We tended to fold down the upper cup rack and lay the sharp knives flat. The sharp edges tended to leave over time fine cut marks in the plastic cutlery basket if point down. Point up there was always the odd misjudgement when loading in extras later in the day.


Do you think your dishes and cutlery are sterile when you use them? Why is that good? Is it worth the effort and extra water etc?


We don’t. To each their own.

With only one tank for our water that comes from the sky anything really dirty gets wiped with a paper towel. Pre-rinsing just wastes water and sends more food waste to the grey water grease trap that could go to the bin or compost instead.

It’s a great question.
Time X temperature X tablet chemistry?
Possibly not to operating theatre standard!

Everything we wash by hand or in a DW when dry gets put away. I’ll own up. Guilty! My hands handling the clean cutlery and glasses and crockery are never sterile. But then neither is anything else I touched in the home in the previous ten minutes.


Bosch dishwasher has cutlery tray and items are laid out horizontally in supports similar to above photo. It takes minimal time to get used to this system. Like items are together (a little time to stack when dirty) and it’s very easy to grab like things to put away after the wash. Doesn’t matter if blade up or down because they are easily handled by the - wait for it - handles :grin: so no safety issues. I would not go back to a vertical cutlery system.


I run the pot scrub cycle every time - but then I have enough duplication to ensure the dishwasher is loaded to the gunnels every time also - always comes out clean with no blemishes and never smells. Some of my cutlery is too big to go blade down, but its always blade down first choice if it fits - sharp knives I put laying down in the top rack. I clean the filter once every few months, ‘whether it needs it or not’ :rofl:


Having been stabbed several times by sharp objects pointing upwards, I’m a points down campaigner :frowning:


Many manufacturers of sharp kitchen knives recommend not putting them in the dishwasher at all.


Re: dishwasher sterilising dishes: No hope that it does this. Sterilisation needs to be done well above the boiling point of water, say 120 degrees for half an hour. That’s why the dentist puts all the instruments into the autoclave after using them. Furthermore, it isn’t necessary!

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Amen. Furthermore they will be contaminated as soon as they get into the cupboard on on to the table.

Here are CHOICE’s latest tips and tricks on how to load your dishwasher for effective cleaning and maximum load.


FWIW many dishwasher racks do not lend themselves to mixing up the sizes of plates. To the left they may be spaced for dinner plates; to the right for dessert plates or saucers. One can intersperse dinner and dessert plates on the left but not on the right because of tang spacing. Depending on the numbers of plates and the rack in question it can be impractical to mix up the sizes while still maximising the number of items in a wash.


I totally agree with you! The diagram is just a guide to help those who are in need, even though they may not have the same set up. I don’t have a double stacked dishwasher but I found the “mix up the size of plates” tip to be very helpful and will be using that method next time.


Our Miele doesn’t have a cutlery basket but an upper shelf to place forks, spoons etc. The recommendation for these shelves it to ensure that spoons are concave down to prevent water pooling in the spoons during the wash cycle, leaving the spoons as a place to catch food fragments.

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