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What do you put on third rack of dishwasher

What is the Third Rack in a Dishwasher For?

Many consider the addition of a third rack to be one of the best dishwasher features. But, if you’ve never had this type of design, you may be wondering what is the third rack in a dishwasher for? A third rack holds cutlery and cooking utensils, providing more space on the bottom rack by replacing the silverware basket. Learn how this helpful feature works, the best loading practices and the pros and cons of what a third rack offers.

Your Questions, Answered: What is the Third Rack in a Dishwasher For and How to Use It

For decades, dishwasher design has consisted of just two racks, with a separate basket for cutlery. However, the addition of a third rack offers several advantages, including improved performance. We’ll answer what is the third rack in a dishwasher for and how to use it so you can decide if this design is right for you.

How Does the Third Rack Work?

A dishwasher’s third rack consists of a sliding tray at the top of the dishwasher tub, above the standard upper rack. What do you put on third rack of dishwasher? The tray contains tines that can securely hold individual cutlery side-by-side. It also enables larger serving utensils to be laid flat on top.

Many third racks are adjustable, enabling you to increase or decrease its height or slide one side away to accommodate taller items below. Some also offer a deeper compartment to better hold ladles, spatulas and small bowls. All are easily removable to enable taller items to be washed with ease on the second rack.

The Best Way to Load a Third Rack

Now that we’ve answered what is the third rack in a dishwasher for, how can you use it to its best advantage? A few simple changes to your loading practices can best utilize third rack space.

These tips detail how to load third rack dishwasher for best results:

  • When loading cutlery and smaller utensils, place one item per slot.
  • Place larger utensils and serveware freely throughout the rack.
  • Arrange small cups and bowls upside down for better access to water and detergent and improved draining.

Do You Still Need a Silverware Basket With a Third Rack?

Larger families or those using numerous utensils may prefer to utilize both the third rack and silverware basket. The third rack can also be reserved for longer, taller utensils or small bowls and cups, freeing up space in the basket for cutlery.

However, a big advantage of a dishwasher cutlery tray vs basket is that it enables the silverware basket to be removed entirely. This maximizes space in the bottom rack for larger items while still providing a dedicated space for cutlery and cooking utensils.

Pros and Cons of a Dishwasher’s Third Rack

Is the third rack in a dishwasher worth it? Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of these designs can best inform your decision.

what is the third rack in a dishwasher for
Image from Bosch

Here are some of the pros and cons of a dishwasher’s third rack:


  • Maximizes space: A third rack increases space below by eliminating the need for a silverware basket, providing more room for plates and cookware. It does this by utilizing previously-unused space above the existing top rack.
  • Improves performance: The third rack’s tines eliminate the nesting that frequently occurs in silverware baskets, leaving cutlery cleaner at the end of a wash cycle.
  • Safely contains small items: Lids, baby bottle caps and small utensils and measuring devices can be safely washed without risking damage or taking up space below.


  • Adjustment required for tall items: Before loading taller items in the second rack, the third rack may need to be adjusted or removed.
  • Not all third racks are created equal: Some racks can’t accommodate cups and bowls, while others can’t be raised, lowered or folded.
  • More expensive: While some brands include a third rack as part of their standard design, others include it only at an increased cost.

The experts at Caesar’s Appliance Sales & Service can answer what is the third rack in a dishwasher for or any other appliance question. Visit us to talk with one of our professionals and browse our inventory of dishwashers for sale!