Few things can divide a household as rapidly and as irrevocably as differing dishwasher-stacking styles.

Most people have a technique they stick to that is hard to explain and likely more intuitive than learned. Do you group bowls together on one side? How do you manage small cups and glasses? What about the really messy stuff, like casserole dishes? Crucially, what kind of pods do you use? 

At last, there is a guide to banish all queries and qualms about your dishwasher. Choice Australia, a consumer advocacy group, has shared their wisdom on how to make the most of your dishwasher. 

It's best to hand wash wooden items

1. Don't put wood, aluminium or copper in the dishwasher  
The majority of dishes we use are dishwasher safe, so it's an easy mistake to assume that all items are suitable to be washed in a dishwasher. However, some items can be damaged by exposure to heavy water pressure and heat. 

Never put anything made of wood in the machine as the porous material will absorb the flavours and smells of whatever else is swirling around your dishwasher. It's best to hand wash wooden spoons, chopping boards, and rolling pins, as well as fine china or specialty knives, which can be blunted by water pressure. 

Hand wash anything that contains a "reactive metal", which are likely to corrode over time, including items with aluminium and copper such as non-stick pans. 

2. No need to pre-wash 
Choice advise that any dishwasher tab you're using should be of high enough quality to blast any stains from your dishes without the need to pre-wash them. 

That said, there are no dishwasher tabs powerful enough to clean actual chunks of food, so you should scrape off all traces of food before loading them into the machine. This prevents clogs in the filter, which should be cleaned once a week. 

3. Put your dirtiest plates in the middle of the machine 
There is a logic to stacking your dishwasher, as the mechanics of the machine make for varying levels of force and cleaning power depending on which shelf you place your dishes on. 

Glass and plastics should be placed on the top shelf, to prevent shattering or melting, while the dirtiest plates should be placed in the centre of the bottom shelf. 

This is because the rotating fan that shoots water at the dishes can sometimes miss the corners of the machine, whereas in the centre of the dishwasher the water pressure is the most concentrated. 

Ensure that all bowls and cups are facing down to stop any dirty water resting in them, and always leave a gap in between dishes to allow water and soap to get in and clean them. 

Once your wash is finished, open the dishwasher as soon as possible and pull out the trays. The heat from the wash will dry the dishes faster. 

4. The dispenser isn't always the best place for your washing tabs 
As there is a literal dispenser for them, you'd be forgiven for always placing your dishwasher tabs in the little pocket on the machine door. However, Choice suggests that depending on the kind of tab you're using, this might not be the most effective way to use them. 

If you favour "3-in-1" tabs or the kind with separate sections that break up, they are more effective when placed on the bottom of the dishwasher. 

Unlike a solid brick tablet, these multi tabs do not break up in one go, so the dispenser doesn't work as well with them. 

The 3-in-1 tablets include a section that is designed for the pre-wash stage but the dispenser doesn't open until the main wash has begun, meaning 1/3 of the tablet is gone unused.