If you’re in charge of keeping the kitchen clean, your dishwasher is likely one of your most prized possessions. But the list of potential dishwasher uses includes much more than just cleaning your pots and pans.
Dishwashers deliver the high heat and intense water pressure needed to remove grease and caked-on food. Did you know this same intensity can deep clean many items around your home, too?
15 Innovative Dishwasher Uses You’ve Never Thought to Try
Your dishwasher is a lot more useful than you might realize, but don’t get reckless! On the other hand, there are a lot of dishwasher uses.
But before you start throwing household items into your dishwasher, take a moment to think about the risks. Many manufacturers will explicitly say if you can run an item through the dishwasher. If you can’t find this information, you can normally tell if putting an item in the dishwasher is safe based on the materials.
Regardless of material, you should always handwash sentimental or valuable items. While using your dishwasher can be convenient, it’s not worth the risk.
Now, with that all out of the way, let’s get started:
1. Pet supplies
No one wants to eat off of dirty dishes, hence why dishwashers are so commonplace. But while we wash our own plates after every meal, how many of us do the same for our pets?
Some pet owners like to pre-wash their pet’s dishes before running them through the dishwasher. This isn’t technically necessary but can eliminate that semi-irrational ick factor of mixing dog or cat food with your own dinnerware.
Many pet toys, like the West Paw Zogoflex Hurley Dog Bone Chew Toy, are also dishwasher-safe. Any hard plastic toy can usually be washed on a low-heat setting with no issue.
2. Bath toys
Over time, rubber ducks and other bath toys can accumulate a nasty layer of soap scum. Throwing your child’s hard plastic bath toys into the dishwasher is a great way to sanitize and de-grime them.
Wash bath toys on the top rack of your dishwasher and keep the heat to a minimum. While these toys can withstand moisture and warm temperatures, your dishwasher can get a lot hotter than your kid’s bathwater.
3. Oven mitts and pot holders
Silicone oven mitts and pot holders are great candidates for the dishwasher. A quick cycle on the top rack can remove visible food debris and kill off bacteria you can’t see with the naked eye.
If your oven mitts and pot holders are made of fabric, don’t worry. You can wash these items with your laundry instead.
4. Kitchen appliance parts
Want to play 4D chess with your kitchen cleaning routine? Take those tedious appliance parts and run them through the dishwasher.
Some (but not all) of the kitchen items you can place in the dishwasher include:
- Exhaust filters
- Burner covers
- Refrigerator racks and bins
- Microwave plates
- Spoon rests
Handwashing these items is fine. But running them through the dishwasher every few months will sanitize them and really get into those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.
5. Cosmetic tools
Spas and salons use something called an autoclave to clean and sterilize tools between clients. This device uses extremely high heat to kill off bacteria.
We don’t need to worry as much about the cleanliness of our combs, hairbrushes, nail files, and trimmers at home. Still, running your personal care items through the dishwasher can sanitize and make them look like new.
Tools made of hard plastic and metal can be washed with this method. Avoid putting tools featuring rubber, small removable parts, or natural fiber bristles in the dishwasher.
6. Glass decor
Glass vases and light fixtures can collect a surprising amount of dust. Mix this dust with everyday grime and debris, and a simple feather duster just won’t cut it.
You can safely put most glass decor in your dishwasher for quick, thorough cleaning. As always, use the gentlest setting and place these items on the top rack.
Avoid washing glass decor adorned with paint or decals. The heat and water pressure of your dishwasher will erode these details.
If your car or favorite patio chair has a removable cup holder, give it a spin through the dishwasher every now and then. It is a convenient way to wash away sticky residue and built-up dirt.
8. Bathroom accessories
Take a look around your bathroom, and you might be surprised by how many items are dishwasher-friendly. You can wash ceramic, metal, and hard plastic items, including soap dishes, toothbrush holders, and liquid soap dispensers.
Some rubber shower mats can also be placed in the dishwasher to remove soap scum and mildew. Wash bathroom items separate from your dishes to avoid cross-contamination.
9. Sponges and brushes
We tend to view our cleaning supplies as, well, clean. Unfortunately, sponges and scrub brushes harbor an alarming amount of bacteria.
To get the most out of your kitchen sponges and brushes, place them in the dishwasher. You can do this as often as you normally run your dishwasher to kill off germs and remove gross odors.
Steel wool pads can be run through the dishwasher, too.
10. Grill accessories
If you can clean your stove parts in the dishwasher, it makes sense that you can clean your grill accessories as well. Yet, so many people neglect to thoroughly clean their outdoor cooking space.
Spatulas, grates, tongs, and griddles are just a few grill-related items that are much easier to clean in the dishwasher than by hand. Since your dishwasher uses such high heat, hardened grease won’t stand a chance.
Some grills feature cast iron grates and griddles. Treat these pieces the same as you would a cast-iron skillet (in other words, don’t put them in the dishwasher!) Non-cast iron parts and accessories are fair game.
11. Vent covers
Trust us — you don’t want to know what kind of dirt and debris is sitting in your HVAC vents. One way you can help cut down on this build-up is by regularly cleaning your vent covers.
You can wash metal vent covers in the dishwasher on a low heat setting. Make sure to remove and safely set aside all screws and mounting hardware first.
Sadly, vent covers that have been painted should be handwashed only.
12. Vacuum attachments
Another item that can quickly go from clean to filthy with day-to-day use is your vacuum. Any hard plastic attachments, like your vacuum’s crevice tool, can safely go in the dishwasher.
Stick to handwashing attachments featuring soft rubber or fiber bristles. Of course, electric-powered vacuum attachments should never go in the dishwasher.
Flower pots get dirty. So what do you do when you need to sanitize a pot that’s been contaminated by disease or pests? Or if you want to repurpose an old flower pot for a different project?
Ceramic and terra cotta pots can go right in your dishwasher for an easy cleaning solution. You can also wash plastic pots on a low-heat setting in the top rack.
We recommend rinsing away any clumps of soil or fertilizer from the inside before loading up your dishwasher. Handwash any containers featuring paint or other decorations.
14. Trash cans
Your bathroom, bedroom, and office trash cans can be sanitized in your dishwasher. Don’t forget to wash the lids and hard plastic liners, too.
Again, this is one household item you’ll probably want to run through your dishwasher alone. No one wants to know that their dinner plate was washed with the bathroom garbage can.
15. Baseball caps
This is one dishwasher hack that you might be familiar with. However, washing a baseball cap in your dishwasher is not as easy as load-and-go.
First, you should never wash hats with cardboard brim supports in the dishwasher (for obvious reasons). Second, using the wrong detergent on your baseball cap could spell disaster. Many dishwasher detergents contain bleach.
If you check all of those boxes, though, you can absolutely wash a baseball cap in the dishwasher. Wash hats alone in the top rack for the best results.
Dishwasher Uses: Turn Your Dishwasher into a Super-Cleaning Machine
As you can see, your dishwasher can do a lot more than clean cups, plates, and silverware. But for the cleanest home possible, you’ll want to proceed with a few things in mind.
Think carefully about the type of detergent your dishwasher uses. Most household items should be washed with a bleach-free detergent. Lemon-scented dishwashing soap may also damage some items.
Place small items in a dishwasher basket before washing. Failing to do this could mean losing your items or even damaging your dishwasher’s interior.
And, finally, always err on the side of caution when washing non-dishes in your dishwasher. If you’re unsure whether a specific item will make it out of the rinse cycle in one piece, then it’s best to just handwash it.
Are there any other items you clean in the dishwasher that we missed? Let us know your favorite cleaning tips in the comments below!