Is it Rude To Stack Your Plates at a Restaurant

We’ve all thought about doing it; we’re out at dinner, finish up our meal, and want to give the waiter or waitress a hand by stacking our plates for them.

In our minds, stacking the plates makes the wait staff’s job a bit easier… but what if it was actually rude?

Read on below and explore the surprising answer to this question!

Is it Rude to Stack Your Plates at a Restaurant?

Stacking your plates at a restaurant, despite that it seems to be the decent thing to do, is in reality very much disliked by restaurant staff. 

That’s because after we get up from the table, and leave the restaurant, the staff has to clear the plates from the table, scraping the leftovers off of each one and spraying them one by one before loading them into a commercial dishwashing machine.

By stacking the plates, we unintentionally make the restaurant staff work a bit harder than they would otherwise need to do. 

How Rude Is it?


On a scale of 1 to 10 stars, stacking your plates at a restaurant rates 7 out of 10 on the rude meter. In the staff’s mind, the act likely rates 10 stars.

But, in the mind of the customer who thinks they are helping, the act isn’t rude at all (and most waiters and waitresses know that the customer is just trying to help). That is why we’ve chosen this particular star rating.

Why is it Rude?

Despite the fact that it truly seems like a thoughtful thing to do (stacking your plates and saving your server sometime during the clean-up), it is actually hated by the restaurant staff because it causes them some extra time and work.

Once the plates are bussed from your table to the kitchen, they must be separated, scraped, sprayed, and hand-loaded into a large dishwasher. By stacking your plates before getting up from the table, the clean-up process takes a bit longer. 

Further, stacking plates often leave food and sauce stuck to the bottom of the plate on top of them. This food and sauce often end up getting onto the hands of the workers.

Other Options to Do Instead

The best thing you can do instead of stacking your plates when you’re finished eating at a restaurant is simply to keep your table clean and place all your napkins, straw wrappers, and trash in a single area. 

Placing your empty drinking glasses near each other also helps.

Stacking your plates, however, should be avoided as it makes the job harder to clean up after you.

Common Questions

Do waitresses and waiters like it when you stack plates?

Believe it or not, all those times you “helped” the waiters and waitresses at restaurants you dined in, you weren’t helping at all. In fact, the wait staff despised the stacking of plates because it makes their job a bit harder.

What should you do with your plate at a restaurant?

When you are finished eating at a restaurant, simply leave your plate where it is. If you want to help the staff, clean up the trash and place it all in one east-to-reach place near the edge of the table. Likewise, you could stick a few dollars extra on the table. The last thing you should do is stack your plates.