Load the dishwasher’s silverware basket on the counter where it’s out of the toddler’s reach

Well, Marie — it may have taken you ten years to figure out this hack, but I never figured out either one:

A decade ago I figured out that when unloading the dishwasher I should immediately remove the silverware container from the dishwasher and put it on the counter above the drawer. That put the most dangerous things out of reach and I could focus on unloading the rest of the dishwasher. This week (10 years and four kids later) I figured out that to reload the dishwasher, I should remove the silverware container and place it in or next to the sink. That keeps the most dangerous things out of reach as I load everything.

Related: Let toddlers pour beverages over the open dishwasher door


  1. says

    I do this very thing, just for a very different reason — why keep bending over half a dozen times to take everything out of the basket? Lifting it up allows me to put it right next to the silverware drawer, where it takes half the time and energy to put everything away.

    On a more parent-hacky note : What you can let the children load are all the rubber spatulas and wooden spoons they want. There’s no meaningful difference between those and the metal shiny ones, and they still get to help.

  2. mes says

    Definitely a great idea if you have a crawler or a young toddler. As my son gets older (he’s 3.5) and is more interested in helping than in climbing on the dishwasher door, I find that silverware is the easiest thing for him to help with. I don’t put any sharp knives in there, and I load most things handle-up. So as I rinse, I hand him the silverware and he puts it in the basket. When I’m unloading dishes, he grabs a couple utensils at a time and puts them in the drawer for me.

  3. Cassidy says

    My 2 year old loves to help empty the dishwasher. Since I do not want to tell her she is not allowed to help, my husband and I put the knives (handle up) in the back of the silverware basket. When we empty the dishwasher, we take the knives out immediately, then she can help with the rest. That way she can still be independent, but I can keep her safe.

  4. says

    Thank you! My son loves to climb in and out of the dishwasher and put his toys in the silverware basket. Now I can stop one of his habits!

  5. Allen Knutson says

    You say “most dangerous”, I say “least breakable”. I too have a 2-year-old that wants to help, and that’s the part he gets to help with.

  6. Nicole K says

    My 2 year old has been sorting silverware for about six months now. I give him the basket and have him put it all away. We don’t put our special steak knives in the dishwasher so it’s all just standard silverware for him. No danger and he feels helpful!

  7. Nutmeg says

    Weird… see we put stuff in the dishwasher AS it gets dirty, so a spoon here and knife there. So this hack totally seems dumb, but I guess most people don’t do it that way.

    We take all graters etc out of the silverware basket and let the two year old put the silver ware away. It’s not usually right, but it buys me enough time to put the rest of the dishes away.

  8. says

    What a great idea! I have a toddler and day care kids, and one problem I often have comes if I unload the dishwasher right after it stops. All the dishes–and particularly the metal silverware–are very hot. And those little hands can’t wait to grab at it! Somehow it never occurred to me to simply remove the silverware basket so no little hands are grabbing at hot handles.
    We don’t put any sharp knives in the dishwasher (longstanding habit, for safety as much as anything) so I let them help with the silverware if it’s cooled off. But when they’re hot, this will save me from worrying about little hands!

  9. NoonieP says

    Great Idea. When I’m loading the dishwasher, I load the flatware last. As I’m rinsing off the rest of the things and loading, I will rinse the flatware but put it off to the side. I then load the flatware last.

    But I will also give my 18mo old a few spoons to “load” while I’m doing the rest of the dishes.

  10. JenN says

    I think I need to call my mom and congratulate her on being a pioneer Hacker. She always put the cutlery containers at the back of the counter on a dishtowel, because “sometimes the bottoms are still wet, so we’ll leave them to dry while we put the rest away.” (My job was to dry the tops of things so water wouldn’t spill on the floor, or settle on the shelves.) Before she did the cutlery, she’d thank me for helping, and off I went to play.

  11. says

    my inlaws keep a bowl by their sink to soak silverware in. that would be another option for keeping utensils and knifes out of reach until you’re ready to load the dishwasher and start, and it keeps things from crusting on the utensils. it will dull knife blades, though – but i always hand-wash my sharp knives anyway so they don’t set around wet or dirty.

  12. says

    Another thing I do to be safe is to turn all forks and knives down in the silverware basket. Our two-year-old has figured out how to open the locked dishwasher!

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