Almost 40 Everyday Things You Can Wash in the Dishwasher

By Max Wong on 22 January 2013 (Updated 20 August 2013) 7 comments
Photo: RLHyde

My normally mild-mannered friend recently had an apoplectic fit when his dishwasher broke.

“Aren’t you being just a little dramatic about this?” I asked him. “You live alone and you rarely cook. Really, how many dishes are you going to have hand wash until your next paycheck when you can pay for a new dishwasher?”

My friend, who is a professional organizer who works with hoarders, rolled his eyes at me. “What you call a dishwasher, I call a multi-purpose cleaning apparatus.”

He then proceeded to school me on the fact that an Energy Star rated dishwasher can be used to speed clean a variety of household objects with just four gallons of water per load — less water than hand washing each item! Who knew?

Here are some of the things he washes in the dishwasher instead of by hand. (See also: The 5 Best Dishwashers)

Plastic Toys

Legos, Frisbees, and action figures can be washed on the top rack. Put small toys into a mesh lingerie bag to keep them from falling to the bottom of the dishwasher and melting on the heating element.

Your Dog’s Gear

In addition to the dog dish, dog toys, nylon collars, leashes, and harnesses are all good candidates for the dishwasher. (Don’t wash leather or rhinestones). Thoroughly and immediately dry metal hardware to prevent rust.

Baseball Caps

If you’ve ever wrecked a favorite baseball cap by warping it in the regular washing machine, then you’ll recognize the genius of washing your sports head gear in the dishwasher using a cap washer instead.

Other Sporting Gear

In addition to your caps, you can also wash athletic gear like shin guards and padding in the dishwasher on the top rack. When washing athletic gear, do not use detergent and remember not to use the dry cycle.

Wash your mouth guard in the silverware compartment.

Personal Hygiene Tools and Supplies

Many people regularly wash their toothbrushes in the dishwasher to kill bacteria.

Actually, as long as they are made of plastic, you can also wash brushes, combs, and make-up applicators in the dishwasher, too. Just remove all the hair from the brush first for obvious reasons.

Assorted Footwear

Flip-flops, garden clogs, rain boots, and galoshes can all be washed in the dishwasher. Remove any liners first. Really dirty rubber shoes can be pre-rinsed in the shower. (Do this while you are waiting for the water to heat up to save water). Crocs, however, should only be hand washed in cold water.

Assorted Household Vents and Covers

Electrical outlet covers and switch plates are often shockingly filthy. Wash these on the top rack along with plastic fan blades and grilles.

Your dishwasher will do a handy job of cleaning all the hard to reach corners of your vent covers and (small) window screens, provided that they fit. Ditto your refrigerator shelves and drawers.

Tools

Tools can be washed in the dishwasher (as long as they don’t have wooden handles). Just make sure to thoroughly and immediately dry your tools to prevent rust. Garden tools or pots that have come in contact with chemicals should not be washed with dishes! Do an extra rinse cycle to avoid cross contamination. (See also: How to Clean Your Dishwasher)

Cabinet Knobs and Pulls

Intricate knobs from your kitchen or bathroom can be quickly cleaned in the silverware basket. By the way, anything made of brass should never see the inside of a dishwasher.

Canning Jars

A dishwasher is a great way to sterilize glass jars before canning. However, regardless of what random people on the internet tell you, you cannot use your dishwasher to process your preserves! The water does not get hot enough to destroy microorganisms.

Cleaning Supplies

Clean your cleaning supplies. Along with keeping your kitchen sponges stink-free, scrub brushes, the dustpan, vacuum attachments, and other housekeeping tools can be refreshed by a run through the dishwasher.

Wash small waste paper baskets and compost bins in the dishwasher.

Dinner

Although my friend has never steamed a fish in his dishwasher, he does admit to running a load of potatoes and yams during the holidays. “It’s the real secret behind my latkes.”

What weird things have you washed in the dishwasher?

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Guest's picture
Michael

Our kids have a big pile of bath toys for when they get washed in the tub. Every so often they start to, well, smell, and we'll run them through the dishwasher (on the top rack) and they come out pretty much as they did when first opened.

Guest's picture
ronfie

We wash the clothes dryer lint screen in the dish washer once a year. I believe the holes in the screen get plugged up by fabric softener causing the dryer to take longer to dry the clothes. The first time we did this there was quite a difference in drying time.

Max Wong's picture

That is a great safety/energy saving tip! Thank you.

Guest's picture
Jon

Thanks for this great post. Wise Bread always provides such great posts that are full of useful information. We wash a lot of stuff in our dishwasher but now I have some new things to try. I never, ever would have thought to wash footwear in the dishwasher. Lots of new things to try!

Guest's picture

Wow! What a useful article! I am amazed of what all can be washed in the dishwasher. I have heard of washing baseball caps and shoes, but I bet my mother would have loved to hear about washing my shin guards in the dishwasher growing up. I adore my dishwasher but I think I just found a whole new level for loving it. Who would have known you could wash tooth brushes or hair brushes? I am amazed.

Guest's picture
Allie

Man, I'd flip if my dishwasher died. If it fits, it goes in the dishwasher. I have an aviary, and I clean all their toys, cups and perches in there (with a second run of vinegar to disinfect). I can recycle old plastic items, silk flowers, and large things that won't fit in the sink. I have kind an OCD fixation on dirt (sadly, not so much on clutter) and I have found that I can even get the refrigerator shelves in there as well as the plastic boxes and so forth I use to hold things. I've even washed aquarium parts and a small aquarium in it. Unparalleled for things like glass lampshades and a second-hand shop dealer I know swears by it for rejuvenating castoffs. I call it the OMNIWASHER. Now, about my washing machine....

Guest's picture
Shannon

Posts like this just amaze me because I never think of putting these things in the dishwasher, but once you say it, it makes completely sense--and way easier than other ways of trying to scrub random things like a baseball cap. New things to try--and I will be trying that lint screen per one of the comment suggestions!