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21 Things You Probably Didn’t Know You Can Throw in the Dishwasher

A woman opening a dishwasher.

Sure, your dishwasher cleans your dirty plates every day, but did you know it can make your hairbrush, vacuum attachments, and vent covers glisten, too? The dishwasher was already just about everyone’s favorite household appliance, but here are 21 more reasons to love it.

It turns out that “dishwasher-safe” doesn’t just apply to your dishes, pots, and pans. First, let’s look at the materials that are deemed both safe and unsafe to run through this handy kitchen appliance. Then, we’ll dish on the unexpected household items you can also throw in there.

What Qualifies as “Dishwasher Safe”?

Dishwashers are a pretty standard household appliance in most modern homes. There’s no question that it’s the easiest way to wash dishes, but the truth is, this handy appliance can clean a heck of a lot more than your kitchenware.

Most modern dishes, cookware, pots, and pans are described as “dishwasher safe.” This term means an item can withstand the high temperatures and detergents used in a dishwasher. Every brand has its own standards and definition of what “dishwasher safe” means for its products, so it’s always best to check your owner’s manual before tossing something in there.

However, there’s also a pretty common consensus on which materials are generally considered dishwasher safe, as well as those that are not.

Generally, you can throw anything made of the following materials into your dishwasher:

  • Ceramic
  • Hard plastic
  • Most sturdy glass items
  • Stoneware
  • Metal
  • Silicone
  • Stainless steel

Items You Should Never Put in the Dishwasher

A broken wine glass being taken out of the dishwasher.

Before we delve into our big list of items you can safely clean in the dishwasher, let’s look at the stuff you should never throw there, and why.

Some items are simply too delicate to be washed in the dishwasher. They might melt or warp from the hot water. Some materials, like wood, will swell and crack from the high moisture.

You should avoid placing the following items and materials in your dishwasher:

  • Wood or bamboo cutting boards: The humidity and moisture will warp and crack them. In fact, you should avoid placing anything made of wood in your dishwasher.
  • Knives: They’ll become dull faster and the blades can damage the racks.
  • Aluminum cookware: Aluminum that hasn’t been anodized is prone to corrosion and discoloration from harsh detergents.
  • Insulated mugs: Running these through your dishwasher could damage the insulation or seal.
  • Sentimental or antique items: The high water pressure can damage or break delicate items like these.
  • Copper pots and pans: These will become discolored over time. Generally, copper should always be handwashed.
  • Cast-iron cookware: This will rust in the dishwasher, whether it’s enameled or not.
  • Thin or flimsy plastic: These will likely melt from the high heat.
  • Delicate glassware: These could break, so wash them by hand—especially your stemware.

You can use detergent at your own discretion, but if you’re washing non-kitchen items, use one that doesn’t contain bleach. This way, you won’t run the risk of discoloring anything.

Cascade Complete Dishwasher Pods

The number one recommended brand in North America.

Top Vs. Bottom Rack

Someone loading the top and bottom rack of the dishwasher

Typically, glasses, bowls, and smaller items go on the top rack, while larger cookware, like pots and pans, go on the bottom rack.

According to Whirlpool, the following items are suitable for the top rack:

  • Mugs and cups
  • Wine glasses
  • Water bottles
  • Plastic items and containers
  • Small bowls and plates
  • Large serving utensils

Whirlpool recommends placing these items on the bottom rack:

  • Large bowls
  • Dinner plates
  • Serving platters
  • Most casserole dishes
  • Stainless-steel pots and pans

Plastic items are especially vulnerable to melting and will warp if placed near the heating element, which is under the bottom rack, so you should avoid placing them there.

Now that you know the types of materials you can put in your dishwasher, and where, it’s time to check out all the stuff you can put in there.

Kitchen Items That Aren’t Dishes or Cookware

Someone washing a Zulay trivet by hand with a smaller image of one being placed in the dishwasher.

There are loads of items in your kitchen that will wash up nicely in the dishwasher, and we aren’t talking about the obvious stuff, like dishes, pots, and pans.

Here are eight other dishwasher-safe kitchen items:

  • Fridge shelving and drawers: With the exception of shelving that has integrated LED lights, these can go in the dishwasher, as they’re made of hard plastic. Just give them some time to warm up to room temperature before you run them through to avoid cracking.
  • Silicone trivets and mitts: After you place these on the top rack and run them through a regular cycle, they’ll look good as new!

Zulay Silicone Trivet Mats

Use them every day, then give them a good wash in the dishwasher.

  • Sink strainers: These can get pretty gross over time, but the top rack of your dishwasher is the perfect place to make them gleam again.
  • Glass microwave turntable: Place it on the bottom rack and run it through a regular cycle.
  • Hard plastic drawer organizers: Safe for the top rack.
  • Vent and fan covers: These collect tons of dust and grease in all those perforated sections, which makes cleaning them is a nightmare. Luckily, you can make them sparkle again in the dishwasher.
  • Removable air fryer components: Check your owner’s manual first, but many of the removable pieces are dishwasher safe.
  • Removable pressure cooker components: Again, check the manual first to see which parts can go in the dishwasher. Generally, the cooking base and lid should never be run through the dishwasher.
  • Nonstick pans: These will be damaged over time if washed too often, so stick to handwashing to get the best use out of your nonstick pan.

Most kitchen items will have a dishwasher-safe label for guidance, but checking their manual or descriptions online are a few ways you can find out if something can go in the dishwasher.

Baby Items and Toys

A little baby holding up their newly washed and sanitized teether rings.

If you have little ones, you know how quickly baby toys and items get dirty. Save yourself some time and energy and fill your dishwasher with the following items:

  • Bath toys: Anything made of hard plastic, silicone, or rubber will be safe on the top rack.
  • Teething rings: Those made of silicone can generally go on the top rack, but double-check the item’s description online first just to be sure.

Bonbino Teether Rings

Wash up safely in the dishwasher.

  • Most bottle nipples: Again, those made of silicone can generally go in the dishwasher. However, it’s usually recommended to hand-wash these to avoid damaging them.
  • Nonslip bath mats: These get pretty oily over time from all the soap, shampoo, and conditioner. A quick cleaning in the dishwasher can reduce their oiliness significantly.

While it might be tempting to throw pacifiers in the dishwasher, it’s generally considered unsafe, as washing them often might damage them, or even make them dangerous for your little one.

If you want a handy way to keep all these small items in one place while they’re in there, the Munchkin high-capacity dishwasher basket is perfect! Just be sure to always place it on the top rack.

Munchkin Dishwasher Basket

Keep those small baby items together.

Bathroom Tools, Cleaning Accessories, & Personal Care Items

Two scotch-brite sponges being placed on the top rack of a dishwasher.

Cleaning supplies, bathroom accessories, and personal care items also need to be cleaned from time to time. Luckily, the dishwasher is a handy place to lather up a lot of these items, as well:

  • Sponges: If they never get a chance to dry off, bacteria will thrive in every crevice of your sponges. A long hot cycle on the top rack and a chance to air-dry will kill any bacteria and refresh all your sponges.

Scotch-Brite Sponges

You can reuse these as long as you sanitize them with a hot dishwashing session.

  • Scrub brushes: Just like sponges, your scrub brush will harbor bacteria from food stuck within the bristles. Wash it just like a sponge.
  • Dustpan: It needs to be dusted off, too from time to time.
  • Detachable vacuum components: As most are made of hard plastic, these are also usually dishwasher safe. Again, just check your owner’s manual to make sure.
  • Toothbrushes: If you’ve been sick, it’s usually a good idea to get a new toothbrush or head, but sanitizing it in the dishwasher works, too.
  • Toothbrush holders: While you are at it, throw this there, too.
  • Soap dispensers: If it’s made of ceramic, glass, or hard plastic, it’s probably dishwasher safe. You can do a quick search online to double-check.
  • Hairbrushes: If it’s made of hard plastic, remove all the loose hair, and then wash it on the top rack. Combs and picks can go in there, too. Wooden brushes, though, should never be put in the dishwasher.

We recommend you clean each category of items separately. For example, you might do the kitchen accessories first, then run the baby items through, followed by your cleaning accessories. If some items are particularly dirty, you might also want to run a rinse cycle between loads.

If you’ve only been using your dishwasher for, well, dishes, it’s time to start taking advantage of the versatility of this handy appliance! From teething rings to vacuum parts, you can clean tons of things in there, and save yourself tons of time in the process. Oh yeah, and toss some lemon in there, too.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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