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Let your dishwasher do more than dishes

By on March 23, 2011

Dishwashers make clean up a snap. This timesaving appliance can clean more than dishes, too. Some items shouldn’t be cleaned in a dishwasher, such as cast iron, wooden or brass items, crystal, quality knives and many types of pots and pans. But there are plenty of household items that are dishwasher-safe. What have you cleaned in your dishwasher?
I’m not suggesting you wash some of these items with your food dishes or run an entire cycle for one item. Do make sure you’re using high temperature water (above 155 F) to kill bacteria.
These tips are definitely not going to appeal to everyone, but here are a few ideas.



Place caps on the top rack and wash them without losing their shape. You can take it one step further and buy a plastic cap shaper that can help make sure your caps don’t get wrinkled. They can be used in the dishwasher or top loading washing machine. Don’t use your dishwasher’s heat drying option. Allow the caps to air-dry.


Freshen your plastic hair tools by washing them in the dishwasher. Be sure to remove any hair in them beforehand because it’s pretty gross otherwise. They can be placed in the utensil holder, or put them in a mesh laundry bag and place them on the top rack.


Plastic lunch boxes and insulated bags can be cleaned on the top rack of your dishwasher. One reader, Maggie from Indiana, shares: “I washed my daughter’s school lunch bag in the dishwasher. It gets really dirty and nasty looking on the outside from stuff leaking in it. The dishwasher makes it look brand new. I’ve done this several times, and the lunch bag is still good.”


Wash garden-picked vegetables such as potatoes and carrots in the dishwasher’s rinse cycle (without cleaning product added).


Add plastic pet or children’s toys in your dishwasher to clean them regularly. These can be washed with your regular dish cycle.


Wash glass light-fixture covers, showerheads or appliance parts, such as stove grates, burner covers or your microwave tray. Another reader, Grayce from Canada, adds: “I clean the metal screen that covers the fan in the vent over the stove. Gets off all the grease and dust that accumulates on it.”


While this isn’t a cleaning idea, it’s good to know. You can let your bread dough rise in your dishwasher. This is helpful if you do a lot of bread making in the winter, when your kitchen is colder. Use your dishwasher’s plate-warming feature or heat dry cycle for a few minutes, then turn it off and place your dough inside to rise. Some people cook corn on the cob (place on top rack, run on normal cycle and then heat dry), poached salmon ( and even lasagna ( in their dishwasher, too. Clearly, you’ll want to use a freshly cleaned dishwasher.

photo by secretly ironic


  1. JDaniel4's Mom

    3/26/2011 at 1:55 pm

    I can get so many things done in the washer!

  2. Ralph Griffin

    4/17/2011 at 2:19 pm

    Plastic chopping boards, toothbrushes, plain glass soap dishes, the coffee grounds basket from your coffee machine, sponges and scrubbing sponges. Wood chopping boards will crack from the heat. Never use the dishwasher to remove wax from candle holders. It will clog the dishwasher drain or your sink’s drain.

  3. Amy Kirk

    4/19/2011 at 7:04 pm

    I was told I can run my Pampered Chef bambo spoons and spatulas in the the dishwasher and do all the time. I also clean my glass refrigerator shelves and drawers by taking out the top rack, knocking off some of the rough on the shelves with 409 first then run the 8 minute rinse cycle on my dishwasher to clean them easier and faster. It’s less messy than trying to clean them in my sink. I never run my dishwasher until it’s completely full/borderline crammed to save water.

  4. Ver

    5/11/2011 at 10:18 pm

    I also put my toddler’s potty in there – at least once a week.

  5. dana henning

    12/30/2015 at 2:26 am

    how do I get candle wax out of my dishwasher–it’s a big jar of vanilla–I was told 409 product

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