Well, like anything, it depends on who you ask. If you ask, say, my parents, you load them pointy-side-up to make sure they get cleaned thoroughly, and if you poke yourself or get bloody knuckles, it’s your own fault for not looking when you open the dishwasher. We don’t really expect you to take their word for it, though, so we did a little research. Here’s what we found.
Like most of us, the experts are pretty split. Start Cooking, WikiHow and ABC News all argue for points facing up, arguing that a) many washers have utensil slots that won’t even allow you to put them in any other way and b) it provides more of a guarantee that they’ll be washed. (WikiHow also points out that super-sharp knives should actually be hand-washed, because the dishwasher can dull them.)
On the “points-down” side, we actually find most dishwasher manufacturers. As NBC News reports:
Almost all dishwasher manuals, manufacturers’ websites and company spokespeople agree on one thing. Load knives with blades down to avoid injury. As the GE appliances website says, handles up and blades down “protect(s) hands.” Representatives of LG and Bosch also told NBC News knife handles should be handles up and blades down to prevent cuts.
That advice is echoed on GE’s website, which says that we should:
Place forks and knives with the handles up to protect hands [. . .] Place spoon handles down if there is an unusually large load of silverware or utensils in the basket. Otherwise, place spoon handles up also.
While we suspect that the dishwasher manufacturers are also worried about liability, the point – no pun intended – stands that it is safest to put anything sharp facing down and away from you. That, of course, leaves us with the popular argument that they won’t get clean, and can often leave to “nesting,” where utensils get stuck together and don’t get clean as a result.
Do BOTH. The best way to load your utensils in the dishwasher is to mix and match points up and down!
Most importantly, this method prevents nestling, so your utensils will always come out clean, and the mix-and-match of spoons, forks and knives in all the compartments should give you enough pause enough that you don’t blindly poke yourself or cause injury. If you really can’t make yourself mix, you have to choose your priority. If it’s safety, or if you have a house full of young children, put the points in down. If it’s cleanliness, points up.
So after all that, the answer is simple: compromise. Sometimes, it really is that easy.