What can - and cannot - go in the dishwasher

November 20, 2017

dishwasher problems

The dishwasher is one of the best labor-saving aids ever invented (much better, say, than your average teenager). Since the 1950’s it has save countless hours of slaving over a hot, sudsy sink – especially after a big holiday meal with lots of guests.

However, like any tool, it has its uses and limitations. There are many things that still require a good old-fashioned hand washing – sometimes to save the item, and sometimes to save the dishwasher.


Items that should not go in your dishwasher

  • Cast iron skillets
    Not only will it wash way all that hard-won seasoning, but it’ll cause rust. In fact, don’t use soap at all – rinse it with warm water, maybe using a little salt to scrub.

  • Anything wood
    Your wood spoons and cutting boards will get dried out by going through the dishwasher and become warped or split.

  • Insulated drinkware
    The dishwasher can affect the vacuum seal, making them less effective – and trapped moisture can breed bacteria.

  • Pet bowls
    You may think this is a good way to sterilize the crockery for the 4-legged family members, but the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) has found that 67% of pet bowls still have salmonella bacteria after going through the dishwasher. This means bacteria-infested water is swirling around all your other dishes and contaminating them as well.

  • Anything with a label
    Remove any labels first, or they can come off during the cycle and clog the filter.

  • Non-stick pans
    The coating will break down in the dishwasher and begin to flake off during cooking (ugh).

  • Aluminum cookware and foil
    Dishwashers will dull and scratch the finish and sometimes bang these pieces against other dishes. Plus, the jury’s out on whether cooking in aluminum is harmful anyway.

  • Fancy knives
    Dishwashers can dull blades and warp handles.

  • Food encrusted anything
    Scrape off those big chunks or you could clog up the dishwasher drain.

  • Baking mats
    These will warp and break down in the dishwasher.

  • Crystal dishes
    Lead crystal can become cloudy, and ‘crystal clear’ no more.

  • Milk glass
    Milk glass can lose its milky whiteness and become yellowed.

  • Hand painted anything
    If it’s hand painted – it should be hand washed. Period.

  • Gold colored flatware
    The gold will cease to glitter – the dishwasher will cause the finish to discolor.

  • Anything copper, brass, bronze, or pewter
    Copper will dull, and brass, bronze, and pewter will get pitted and discolored.

  • Light plastic or acrylic dishware
    Top rack only, because dishwasher heat can cause cracks and warping.

  • Items repaired with glue
    Heat water and detergent will often dissolve the glue and re-break your item.

  • Antiques or delicate china
    Would you cry if it broke? Then hand wash it carefully.

  • Cookware with burnt-on stains
    Of course you don’t want to deal with it – but neither can your dishwasher.

  • Liquid soap
    Unless you want a bubble bath on your kitchen floor.


A surprising list of dishwasher-safe items

Your dishwasher can be a great way to conveniently deep clean these everyday items:

  • Mouth guards

  • Toothbrushes

  • Soap dishes

  • Sponges

  • Refrigerator shelves and boxes

  • Microwave plates

  • Hairbrushes

  • Tweezers, clippers, scissors

  • Makeup brushes

  • Razors

  • Kids’ plastic toys

  • Baseball caps

  • Removable shower heads

  • Razors

  • Furniture knobs


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Last Updated: July 02, 2024