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
- Soap dishes
- Refrigerator shelves and boxes
- Microwave plates
- Tweezers, clippers, scissors
- Makeup brushes
- Kids’ plastic toys
- Baseball caps
- Removable shower heads
- Furniture knobs