The Hangup with the Dishes


I’ve thought of writing about my problem with doing the dishes for some time. Every time I think about it, I manage to stop myself. Because it’s so ridiculous. And embarrassing. And trivial. And mentally inept. However, then it occurred to me that someone else might have a similar problem and it would be like a public service to write about it.

Or something.

Maybe it would help someone! Make them feel less weird! Or maybe it would help me if you told me you had a similar problem so that I would feel less weird! Or maybe you have no such problem and I’m going to find out how weird I really am.

I’m fragile, please don’t be mean.

I’m not really fragile, but please don’t be mean anyway.

So I decided to write about it in spite of the fact that it’s really weird, mostly because I think it might be liberating! I’ve never told ANYONE about this little problem. Nobody I’ve ever lived with, married, given birth to, no one.

And yet I am telling you, dear readers.

I’m not sure when this little problem started, but I think it was soon after I got married. You know, when I started having to do the dishes all the time. You know that tray or whatever it’s called where you put the flatware? Has all those little spots and you stick the flatware in there? Yeah, that, whatever it’s called.
I’m sure most people just stick the flatware in there however it fits, wherever it fits. Me, no. I can’t do that. I have to put one piece of flatware in each spot. One. In each. Until all the spots are filled up. THEN and ONLY THEN can I put a second or third in the same spot. Now, it doesn’t matter how or where I put the additional pieces of flatware. What matters is that FIRST each spot is filled, in order across the tray, with one piece of flatware. Then the rest can be loaded in willy nilly, who cares.
If I accidentally put two in a spot as I’m loading, I have to pick one piece back up and move it to the next available empty spot.

I’ve TRIED to let myself load the tray willy nilly. I can’t. I CAN’T.

I’m not at all regimented in other ways. In fact, I’m quite distracted and flighty and ditzy. But I’m obsessive about how I load the flatware tray in the dishwasher. Which makes no sense. It’s a temporary situation. The dishes only stay in the dishwasher for a few hours, or until whenever I unload it. No one sees it and no one knows. Even I can’t see it after I shut the door of the dishwasher. IT ACCOMPLISHES NOTHING.

And it’s weird.

And now I have come clean, so to speak.

My name is Suzanne and I have a weird obsession with loading flatware into the dishwasher.

Thank you for listening!


  1. denisestone says:

    haha. i guess there is a little bit of OCD in all of us. me? i have to unload the plates into the cabinet in a particular order. (i don’t have a full set of 8 just partial sets.) so, first comes the blue ones, then the brown ones, then the one beige one, then the two white ones, and lastly the 3 blue ones. i also have to have the light switches when turned off facing the same direction. so if more than one light switch controls one light in the laundry room, i will walk to the other side of the room to turn off the switch so all of the switches are downward when the lights are off. my name is denise and my husband knows i am a little OCD. lol.

  2. CassieOz says:

    You could try (*gasp*) washing up by hand. Y’know in a sink of hot soapy water. With your hands. I guarantee it will cure you of this in no time at all. You’ll be just so pleased to get that flatware off the bench and out of sight that you’ll just shove it in there willy nilly.

  3. Darius.Lander says:

    I have to fill each spot with a set of flatware. One knife, spoon, fork in each before I can then load them with the rest of the flatware. Thank goodness I am not alone in my ocd.

  4. Enraged Bunny says:

    You aren’t alone, and glad to know I’m not alone either! πŸ™‚

    When I load the flatware, I have to put in 1 piece at a time. My pattern is 1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 3, 2, 1, and it continues until I’m out of flatware. Then I move on to the large utensils, like spatulas, whisks, etc, following the same pattern.

    I have a method for loading the rest of the dishwasher as well. Poor Blaze tries his best to help me out, but he’s figured out that if he wants to load the dish washer, he has to sneak and load it when I’m not paying attention.

    If not, I just have to step in and rearrange everything. Though I suspect he lets me catch him sometimes, just because he likes to watch and laugh at me while I’m frantically rearranging everything.

  5. Diane says:

    Wish I had that hang up! lol. I do not have a dishwasher so my hang up is doing the dishes. But I do have an order I do them in. Glasses first then plates, silver ware, then pots and pans. That is when I do them. I would prefer the cleaning fairy to do them but she tends to slack off on her job from time to time. πŸ™‚

  6. brookdale says:

    You’re not alone, dear Suzanne! I have to have all the knives together in the two back spaces, blades down; then the forks and big spoons in the middle two, handles down; then the teaspoons in the front two, handles up. They go in in that order too. It HAS to be like that! The plates, bowls, etc go in their own spaces too. I just think they get cleaner that way.

  7. langela says:

    I have to have all my flatware in, handle down so any dirty stuff drains off the part that touches food. I also have to have one in each spot. If we have so many that I need to add more, it has to be a different type of flatware in the spot so they don’t ever ‘spoon’ each other. Water can’t get both sides clean if it’s ‘spooning’.

  8. lifeisgood/ Melinda says:

    I don’t have this particular cleaning quirk but I had to laugh at the visual. Actually, if you saw my house this morning you would wonder if I had a cleaning “anything” let alone a quirk!! The weather is just too beautiful to be stuck in the house cleaning!
    My daughter’s, however, suffer from your same OCD disorder where the dishwasher is concerned. So, fear not, you are not alone!

  9. patricialynn says:

    I have a similar hang-up, only I don’t have a dishwasher. My dishes have to be in the draining rack in a certain order. Since my back injury, my teenage son has taken over the dishes, and I’ve had to train myself to NOT look at the draining rack. He’ll put a full size plate in there, then a saucer, then another full-size plate, then a pan….I’m wincing just thinking about it. If I actually look at it I end up lecturing, which makes no one happy. So I just don’t look at it.

  10. Linda Goble says:

    My daughter gets upset with me when I fill her dish washer silverware. I just through them in and she separates them in each individual spot. I am like you need to sort them before they go in or when you put them away WHY does it matter…. So how does Morgan do the dish washer, does she have to do it the same way you do?

  11. wildcat says:

    My sweet husband loads the dishwasher all wrong, and if I see it, then I go behind him and “fix” it. LOL I don’t think anyone ever showed him the correct way to do it, so he just puts stuff in there all crazy. He could fit twice as much stuff in there if he would put it in there RIGHT. But he doesn’t think it’s important enough to bother with, so oh well. It’s not a battle I think is worth fighting. I know I am blessed to have a husband who does house work, so I just quietly go behind him and “fix” his loading errors. :yes:

    And I am another one who likes to make sure all of the flatware is distributed evenly in the dishwasher. In my mind, it will get cleaner that way. I also try to mix the silverware types in each holding space as much as I can. Like another poster said, they won’t get clean if same-type silverware are “spooning” while they’re being washed. LOL

  12. Joell says:

    I dont run my dishwasher every single day since it is just the two of us, my problem is that I cant put dirty dishes or silverware in the dishwasher because I dont like the thought of food going all over inside that machine or the thought of icky food just sitting there drived me bonkers so, I rinse everthing with very hot water to clean every thing off, and then I put them into the dishwaser to be “cleaned”.
    Sinnce I dont have that much silverware, I usally end up washing my silverware by hand, since I would run out before the washer is run again.
    Seem we are all normal in our own way—what is normal anyway???

  13. piemaker7461 says:

    Dear Suzanne, I too have “issues” with dishes. My daughter gets so mad at me when I try to get her to load things the “right” way!! I think if we were all more willing to share our struggles and little weird quirks, we would all be more at ease with ourselves and be able to accept others with more GRACE! Hang in there girl you are not alone and you are not weird! (well maybe just the good kind!)

  14. outbackfarm says:

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only OCD person here. My flatwear tray only has 6 spots. And I put all the big spoons in the 1st one, then the little spoons in the 2nd. The 3rd spot goes for small sharp knives while the 4th spot is for butter knives. The the 5th is for the cooking forks and the 6th is for the eating forks. I like it that way. And my daughter, who sometimes puts the dishes and utensils away, can see how I have them. So why can’t she put the dirty ones back in this way? WHY? She just puts them in any which way and then I have to sort them all. MY way, they are already sorted and all I ahve to do is take them out, one spot at a time, and put them in the drwaer. Just like that. It’s a time saver mostly. And I try all I can to make things easier to save time.

    So I don’t think you’re wierd or strange. We all have our own way of doing things. This is yours.

  15. brendaE says:

    Well there is one good thing here – you are not alone in the weirdness of flatware stacking. Good grief! Maybe I’m the weired one – haha – I just throw mine in there as fast as possible and hope for the best. I hate doing dishes even in the dishwasher. Mine always come out clean but no particular order. I mean this in the only the kindest of ways people – laughing as I write – I’m sure I’m more than weird in oh so many other ways but not loading the dishwasher.

  16. mamajhk says:

    i am so glad that I am not the only one with hangups. I,too, load my dishwasher a certain way. All dishes face inward (plates, saucers then bowls(small to large). Silverware tend to go in with handles up and not all together (forks in one and spoons in another) because I, too, don’t think they would get clean. When my daughter and daughter in law load my dishwasher they tend to kick me out of the kitchen or I rearrange the dishwasher. Sometimes we just leave the mess and I do it after they all have left.

    I remember one of the biggest arguments I had with our daughter when she was growing up and helping with laundry. I folded and stacked sheets certain way because they would then fit the space I had. She folded sheets and just stuck them in the space (you know twin and full willy nilly) Well, it all came to a head when she was changing her sheets one day and went through the whole stack trying to find hers.

    One of the funniest things was when she called me one night after work and said I told a trainee “that a job worth doing was worth doing right the first time”then I turned around to see if my mother was standing there. Eighteen years and she finally got it :woof:

  17. falnfenix says:

    oh god, i’m worse than you are about the dishwasher.

    for flatware: i have to put them in alternating holes…so i go 1-3-5-4-2 and so on. large glasses MUST be on one side of the top rack, small on the other. pots must face a certain way. plastic cups must be in a specific row. gladware must be on the top, plates and bowls must be on the bottom.

    and then my other half will come behind me and stick a small pot on the top rack or something equally crazygonuts and i’ll just go insane.

  18. Window On The Prairie says:

    I do the exact same thing. One piece in each hole to start, and then the rest go whereever. I like to think I’m being thorough. That’s what I tell myself anyway. :yes:

  19. Camille says:

    Can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed reading and laughed out loud at everyone’s “true confessions” regarding the dishwasher.

    I swear I seem to share a ‘smidgen’ of everyone’s quirks which could mean I’m really, really OCD….or perfectly normal! LOL. :bugeyed:

  20. Dumbcatluvr says:

    OMG!!! I almost gasped and my eyes bugged out of my head when I saw your Sodoku knife in the dishwasher!!!!!!!!!! Think I have a problem?

  21. cabynfevr says:

    I have no dish washer so it’s not a problem for me! lol If that’s as far as your OCD goes you should be thankful πŸ˜€ My OCD moment (my daughter would say I have many!) comes into play with locked doors and gates… especially the “people” door between the stall and storage area of the barn. I have to check it multiple times to be sure and have started telling myself, OUTLOUD, it’s locked, do not go back and check! Yeah, doesn’t always work πŸ˜•

  22. Jan Hodges says:

    Wow you have a lot of those things in there. I removed some of mine so I had more room for milk buckets and bottles. And I put one on top for little things like bottle caps. (I think your routine for loading the dishwasher makes perfect sense, although I am a slob and put everything into the first one.)

  23. Kristi C says:

    The towels. They have to be folded correctly, or I can’t use them. A bath towel must be folded in half, folded in half again, and in half once more. DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, fold it in thirds and try to put it away. It must be un-folded, refolded and put away before I can then use it. WEIRD!

  24. Jen says:

    When you started I thought you were going to talk about never doing your dishes – letting them pile up until your kitchen is buried. Or your hatred for doing dishes or your love of collecting dishes. This seems so small in comparison. Actually, I do the same thing but probably a little worse. I go behind my family re arrange the dishes the way I think they need to be loaded. But only when they aren’t looking or they get mad & stop helping. Terrible I know.

    I’ve had a hatred of doing dishes since I could walk. I’m the youngest of 5 girls & we each had to take turns with kitchen duty. My mom gave us chores by the week & we’d rotate through dishes, laundry & yard work. All summer long I’d beg & plead with my sisters to trade dish duty for yard work. All winter long I suffered through laundry & dishes. :o(

    Then I got married & didn’t really have anyone to trade with anymore. My husband would go in & start washing when there wasn’t anything to eat out of. Once the baby came & I stayed home I felt terrible not to wash them & forced my self to do them at least every other day. So, when my husband asked me what I wanted for my 10th ann. I shouted – a dishwasher!!. That’s what I got, as well as a short trip. ;o)

    Now we’re married 26 yrs, he keeps my dishwasher going & I keep cooking & washing dishes. It’s not nearly as bad as I thought it was all those yrs ago!

  25. lesliedgray says:

    Don’t feel too bad… I put all of the forks in one section, then the spoons in the next, you guessed it, the knives come next, then the serving pieces… unless I have too much of one thing.. spoons, perhaps, then the overflow just gets stuck in….

  26. mamajoseph says:

    When I saw the title, I was relieved because I thought, “Oh, good! someone else with my hang up!” But, alas, my hang up is not the same and has nothing to do with a dishwasher, since I don’t have one. And THAT is my hang up…I just hate washing dishes by hand!

  27. milesawayfarm says:

    Here’s my confession. You know how we all grew up with woman who made sure very dish was clean and every counter wiped and every drain strainer shiny before they went to bed? And you know how the next generation adopted the “I cook, you clean” rule? Well, the second one my husband never got. And the first one? Well, I just gave up. After all that cooking (and I love to cook) I just want to relax and have a nice meal and then put my feet up. Not spend more time in the kitchen. So in the morning, while the water is boiling for coffee and tea, and while the coffee and tea is brewing (a total of about 10 minutes) I put dishes in the dishwasher, and wash out the big pots and pans, and wipe down the counters, and I’m done. I have not had a clean kitchen when I went to bed in 20 years. Does this make me a bad representative of the female species? Oh, and I’ve been known to spill out and sort the M&M’s in the bag by color, and then eat them until all have the same number, and then eat one from each pile to keep them that way. All is right with the world when the world is at right angles!

  28. Leesa says:

    Well, that is a little crazy but it’s OK. πŸ™‚ I just throw my flatware in any old way, handles down, except for sharp knives those I reverse.
    I spent the first 2 years of marriage without a dishwasher, it was terrible! Then I asked for and received one for Christmas, it was like a Christmas Miracle! lol I have NEVER been without a working dishwasher in all the years since. I believe it saved my life, or at least my manicure.

  29. SpinnersEndFarm says:

    Hmmm. I do that too! If more than one person does it maybe it is considered normal. My husband is worse though; he reorganizes the things I put in the dishwasher (dishes and cups). He says it is to be more efficient but I think it is a control issue….

  30. catslady says:

    I’m not quite as bad (OCD anyone lol) but I prefer to put one knife,one spoon and one fork in each slot. I do it because I think things would clean better that way or at least that’s what I tell myself. If I am in a hurry I don’t do it (I guess there’s still help for me lol). I also put knives and forks down because I bent down one day and almost took an eye out – scared me to death. Anyway, I think we all have some OCD – some of us just have more than others.

  31. bonita says:

    Well, I prefer to place the flatware in the d/w bins, handle first–I think they get cleaner that way. Also, when you need to steal a fork from the d/w (because emptying the dishwasher is, well, rare) you know which utensil is a fork. The problem is my decades-old flatware’s handles are narrow enough to get caught in the holes of the new-to-me d/w’s flatware basket and then get caught in the d/w’s door ridges. Arrrgh. All plates, bowls, etc must face the inside. It’s my version of efficient. Like having all the hangars face the same way in the closet, or folding sheets and towels to fit the shelves they’re stored on. Certainly not weird. [!]

  32. Rah says:

    Okay, I was told to load the dw the way you do, because the flatware needs to be spread out evenly, and that you should not put all of the same thing in one place, like all the spoons together, because they will, well, SPOON–nestle up against each other and not get clean. So if you put a spoon in that section on round one, then the second items should be a fork or knife.

    But the real reason I’m commenting is to shout out @ milesawayfarm, from whom I was obviously separated at birth. Honestly, I thought I was the only person on earth who would selectively eat m&m colors just to even out the categories. And if eating one means you have to eat 5 more to keep things neat, well it’s just the price a woman pays to keep things tidy.

  33. missjane says:

    Suzanne, you are so cute! I only put spoons or forks, or knives in each compartment (one of a kind), so I know how you feel. But I’m probably way more anal than you. Hugs, you always make me smile!!

  34. Joell says:

    I love reading the various comments readers leave on the posts, and I have to say, after reading them thus far on this topic, if I am wierd, I am in darn good company!! :yes:

  35. yvonnem says:

    I do the exact same thing…ha!…we’re both weird! I like to have it all evenly distributed.

  36. wannabeafarmgirl says:

    Lol…I keep trying to sort mine, all the forks together, spoons together etc. We all have our odd points. There must be a method to our madness!

  37. SweetPug says:

    Ha-Ha! Oh that’s funny. I’m no help because I’ve never owned a dishwasher. I have a sink and two hands. πŸ™‚ But if you’re worried about the pattern you have created, reverse it. Do it exactly the same way…but start at the other end. Do it in reverse order. What might this accomplish? It may unwind the procedure in your subconscious and it may not be an issue anymore. “Break the pattern”…Tony Robbins.

  38. mirela says:

    Dear Gah! Not with the silverware, but equally unusual, I have this thing about reading magazines. I can’t start reading them unless I take out all the offers they have inside, sometimes double or triple offers to subscribe. I’m weird like that, but I have to take every piece out before I even consider flipping through the magazine… Less disturbing for me (but more for others) is that I may read the magazine from end to front…Say it if you think I should be committed into a mental institution πŸ™‚

    Well, in case you didn’t get enough info for a diagnosis, I also have to sleep with the bedroom (closet and bathroom, too) door open, as I’m always afraid of running out of oxygen in my sleep. I’m sure you know lots of people who can’t wait to marry me.

  39. whaledancer says:

    What a silly obsession, says the woman who has to take the eggs out the carton in the right order (and who has never had a dishwasher).

  40. Mim says:

    I read somewhere (probably on the internet) that you should load your silverware so that all the spoons are not in the same hole…so I try to load my knives first, hole 1 then hole 2 etc…then I load the forks, then the spoons in the same matter….I also load the silverware with the handles up…I also load my dishes from the back to the front…my husband loads the dishes from the front to the back…. I have tried to teach him the proper way to load the dishwasher but he is a very slow learner..(lol)

  41. WvSky says:

    J KNEW you had a deep dark secret! I’ve spent years trying to figure out what it was, and now we can move on to the less important issues!

  42. UlrikeDG says:

    I load them one in each slot, but I also pay attention to what type of utensil (forks vs spoons, etc), and try to distribute them evenly among the different slots. And, a couple of our slots are larger than the others, so if there’s an odd number, those two slots get the extras first.

    I really wish I could just put spoons in one slot and forks in another and so on, but then they nest together and don’t get clean.

  43. Lois says:

    I grew up with 2 sisters and a brother. My brother never had to do housework or kitchen cleaning but my sister in law says we girls taught him to put the toilet seat down and for that she’s forever grateful so maybe all wasn’t lost on him. LOL! I always washed, dried and folded laundry, my kids put everything away. I did the cooking so they took turns with kitchen duty. Funniest thing ever was when I finally got a dishwasher after the older 2 left home. My youngest and I were trying to make a cake or something and each bowl I pulled out was just a tad too small. When I got the 3rd one, my daughter said “please Mom, don’t dirty up another one”! When I asked why, she said because it’d just be more dirty dishes to wash. I then reminded her the dishwasher would take care of it and she said “oh yeah. I forgot”!

  44. holstein woman says:

    Well this is my opinion: I don’t think any of you are OCD or are weird. I think subconsciously you are loading the load machine is even like in the washer. Remember a balanced load keeps the machine working longer.

  45. BuckeyeGirl says:

    I can’t believe you people! None of ya’ll are NEARLY weird enough to deserve the title! πŸ˜† I won’t even try to outdo anyone else with the weirdness which is me. We’re all entitled to our own foibles, I’m sure not going to cast stones because it hurts when folks pick em up and lob em back at me! :dancingmonster:

  46. Rainla says:


    Why is Snoopy dancing??!!! Because now I know that I AM NOT ALONE!!! For many years I have had to load the silverware exactly the same way – 1 into each section of the silverware holder. But then I have to continue with additional pieces in order for the second round, and then the third, until all is loaded.

    So thanks Suzanne for posting this. Thankfully I don’t seem to have any other OCD-like quirks but this one is annoying enough as it is!

  47. sandrava says:

    Flatware…it can go in any old way! But the thermostat…can never be on an odd number…

  48. dyoung5782 says:

    So noone brought up the issue that I have. Handle down or up? This, I believe, was addressed once upon a time by Dear Abby. I have to have the handles up. Because I feel that with handles down you have to touch the part that someone is eating off of. Yuck! I load my dishwasher in a specific way and have been known to reorganize before starting it (but the way I load it is recommended by the manufacturer-therefore I’m not crazy, right?!) lol.

  49. VikingMiss says:

    Suzanne, you are loading the flatware wrong… handles go down πŸ˜€ Loading the dishwasher is one of those things, I always know when the husband has done it because there are things in the wrong place, or even (heaven forbid!) dishes that I only handwash.

    Anyway, I think a lot of can relate to this post πŸ˜†

  50. JK Newsome says:

    Come up with another, Suzanne, this is good therapy. I have a unique perspective I think, I put them in categories so I can pick up the basket and put them away in their home. We have repurposed a library card catalog file to hold silverware, wax paper ect. My oldest son and his wife argue about the handle up/down thing heavily, She says handle up, so you never touch the food part. But, she also hand washes before machine washing, “the sink is for cleaning them, the machine is for sanitizing them”, says she. ????? My biggest peeve with our kitchen is 900 bowls for two people, storage bowls I mean, and each bowl has only one lid that fits? To me, all storage boils should be color coded, all red bowls go with all red lids ect. but I suppose the companies that sell them make their money on selling the “new” style each month.
    Oh, and High five @ mirela, I do the same thing with magazines, first I take it by the spine and shake out all the loose cards, then read it back to front. πŸ™‚

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