I don't let anyone load the dishwasher. I'm very strategic about it, and it has lasted us 19 years.

A hand loading a plate into a dishwasher.
Ekaterina Goncharova/Getty Images
  • We've lived in our house for 19 years and have had the same dishwasher.

  • It's so loud but still works perfectly and I'm convinced it's because of how I load it.

  • I actually enjoy figuring out how to get the most out of each load.

Maybe it's the long line of engineers in my family that molecularly imprinted my desire to load dishes with the precision of an Olympic decathlete.

If dishwasher loading were an Olympic sport, I'd be on my way to Paris this summer.

We've had our dishwasher for almost 2 decades

This year will mark my family's 19th year in our New Jersey home. I am surely about to awaken the appliance gods by announcing that the originally installed Maytag Performance dishwasher has been working without incident since the day we moved in with our 2-year-old and 6-week-old babes.

It's so loud. I once answered the phone while it was running, and my friend asked where I was going because it sounded like I was on the turnpike.

I'm convinced ol' May has lasted this long because we are a household of well-trained rinsers. An occasional re-rinse is necessary in the case of, say, traces of dried oatmeal, which are stronger than cement and impenetrable by any inside dishwasher forces. There's no scraping and then depositing directly into the dishwasher with spaghetti sauce or other stray blobs of food over here. I am ready to acknowledge and embrace my kitchen control freak status.

Anyone who's discovered cheese dried onto a fork or spoon after the dishwasher cycle has ended when it's been jackhammer-proofed onto the surface knows what I'm talking about. The commercials for today's dishwashers featuring smiling users cavalierly placing food-covered pots and plates in and letting the machine do the rest trigger me and raise the question, do people really do this?

Does the appliance come with teams of tiny scrubbing hands that magically appear when turned on? And where does all of that gunk go? While I am aware that many of today's dishwashers come equipped with hard food disposer systems that miraculously disintegrate and remove food particles, it seems almost too good to be true.

I will reload after family members have tried to load the dishwasher

Once items have been properly rinsed (anticipating comments about water waste), it's time to load. This is where Olympic competitors in my imaginary dishwasher loading event will put their spatial awareness skills to the ultimate test. My dear and helpful husband, a former fighter pilot who could land a F/A-18 Super Hornet on an aircraft carrier, which has been likened to landing on a postage stamp, does not possess this skill in domestic life.

With regard to the now viral meme which likens partners in dishwasher loading to either a Scandinavian architect or a raccoon on meth, I am, literally, the Scandinavian minus the degree in architecture. My husband is more raccoon-leaning.

I see the prongs of different heights and instinctively understand that the short ones are meant for smaller pieces. The engineers at Maytag designed them this way for a reason, right? I like to load the dishes from back to front. The bottom rack is reserved for large glasses, mugs, plates, and silverware. Small glasses, bowls, cooking utensils too big for the silverware section, and anything plastic go on the top rack.

I enjoy figuring out how to get the most out of each load. My husband takes a much simpler, pile them in with no rhyme or reason approach. I've tried to explain that if you pile things on top of each other, they won't get clean. This logic typically opens me up for a good family roasting. The running joke in our house is that if Dad loads the dishwasher, Mom will inevitably rearrange it.

I marvel at the hundreds of times I've plonked the dishwashing pod under the bottom rack, raised the door, and turned the knob to the "Normal" wash setting before firmly pressing the door closed and hearing her faithfully roar to life.

It's one of life's small luxuries I'm thankful for daily, along with being married to a helpful guy who does his own laundry. I may not be headed to Paris for the games this year, but I will continue to train with vigilance just in case domestic sporting events involving packing skills become a thing.

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