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22 Unexpected Things to Wash in the Dishwasher

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The dishwasher can be a homemaker’s greatest convenience for cleaning and sterilizing if you are willing to think outside the box.  Gone are the days of hand washing and scrubbing!  Placing items in the dishwasher which you wouldn’t normally find there will free up your time while cleaning items more effectively than by hand.  We get questions all the time about which items are safe to wash in the dishwasher.

Keep in mind that a dishwasher’s water temperature must reach 155° F to kill bacteria, so crank the water to hot (many dishwashers have a “sterilization mode” or cycle, which is necessary to ensure the water is heated high enough to kill bacteria).  Run a full load whenever possible to minimize the energy impact on your utility bill.

Small items can be washed in the dishwasher, as long as corralled into handy dishwasher-safe cages and baskets to keep them from flying around during the wash cycle.  Anything made of plastic should go on the top rack to reduce chance of damage.  Plastic (and some other) items that don’t specify “dishwasher safe” on their packaging should be washed the first time with an experimental mindset; some will come out just fine, while some will melt from the heat.  Unfortunately, there is no way around this trial and error approach!

If you can’t get on board with the idea of washing some of the listed items with your regular dishes, simply run them as a separate load.

From the most commonplace household item to the truly bizarre, we’re proud to present:

22 Unusual Things to Wash in the Dishwasher

1.  Kids’ toys. Germophobes everywhere swear by this method of sanitizing baby toys and teethers (including yours truly)  in the dishwasher.

2.  Hairbrushes, barrettes, scrunchies and hair ties. Dirt and oil, as well as residue from hair products, can build up on combs, brushes and hair accessories.  The top rack of the dishwasher is the safest place for these hair tools.

3.  Garden tools. Top rack only for plastic-handled tools.

4.  Baby bottle brushes, scrub brushes, vegetable brushes. Ensure the bacteria hiding in your kitchen brushes is eliminated by sanitizing them in the dishwasher.  As with all plastics, it takes trial and error to make sure the material used is safe for the dishwasher; wash only one of each type at a time until you establish their safety.

5.  Baseball hats. Get them clean and looking as good as new by washing in the top rack of the dishwasher.  There are even cool plastic cap holders for the dishwasher available to protect their shape!

6.  Toothbrushes. Make sure that plaque germs don’t get back into your mouth by way of the toothbrush.  Sterilize in the top rack.

7.  Pet toys. Eliminate pet saliva and dirt periodically with a nice toy wash in the dishwasher (no, you don’t have to wash them in the same load with your dishes!).

8. Faux flowers. No more dusting floral arrangements – wash them in the dishwasher on a light wash setting instead!

9.  Kitchen sponges. Kill the germs instead of spreading them around.  Sponges can handle 2-3 hot dishwasher cycles before they start to break up.

10.  Makeup brushes. Dirt and oil from skin can cling to bristles; sterilize every 2-3 months, depending on frequency of use.

11.  Shoes (including athletic shoes, sandals, jelly shoes, crocs, and rubber boots).

12.  Plastic broom heads and dustpans. Unscrew the head from your broom handle and kiss the germs goodbye.  Top rack placement is recommended to protect the plastic.

13.  Keyboards. This how-to article directs washing a keyboard in the dishwasher (be warned: there is some swearing in the linked article).

14.  Cages of fans. Completely dismantled (read: no electrical pieces and/or cords!), the front and back cages, as well as removable fan blades, can be washed in a dishwasher to get rid of dirt and grime that clings from the air.

15.  Tooth brush holders. Toothpaste and minerals from water can build up on your accessories; wash in the dishwasher from time to time to prevent build-up.

16.  Refrigerator shelving. Most modern refrigerator shelving is designed to be dishwasher safe (older appliances are likely not).  If in doubt, only wash one shelf to ascertain its dishwasher-safeness.  Removal of the top dishwasher rack may be necessary to fit shelves in properly.

17.  Soap dishes. Soap buildup can be hard to remove (seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it?!).  Dishwashers can have soap dishes looking brand new in no time.

18.  Pen holders. Ink from leaky pens can pool up in the bottom of pen jars and cups.  A thorough washing may not remove the ink stains, but will prevent the spread of gummy ink to your pens and papers.

19.  Cup holder inserts from your car. Many cars now have removable cup holders that are dishwasher safe (thanks go out to Chrysler/Dodge for pioneering this feature for busy moms on the go).  No more sticky cup holders!

20.  Glass globe covers for light fixtures (don’t use a heavy wash setting).  The top rack of the dishwasher is safest for these.  You can even “wedge” them into place with sponges against the rack to keep fixtures from possibly moving or breaking.

21.  Cooking foods. No this one isn’t a joke!  People have honestly cooked meals in their dishwashers.  It works because of the containment of extreme heat and steam, causing convection of sorts.  Lasagne has been cooked in the dishwasher with success; so has fish (general) and salmon with cilantro.

22.  Trash can lids and trash cans. Take out the top rack to fit a small to medium sized garbage can in the dishwasher for a thorough cleaning.

If you found this article useful, please help support our site by linking to it on your blog!   Thank you!  Read our other fun kitchen tips.

22 Unexpected Things to Wash in the Dishwasher was originally published July 16, 2008. Photos by plindberg, anamoly23, abbybatchelder.

Tell your friends!Tweet about this on Twitter49Pin on Pinterest147Share on Facebook101Share on StumbleUpon1Share on Reddit0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn9

Danelle Ice is an entrepreneur in Los Angeles and mom of 3. She is the creator of and Danelle is also known as internet personality SimDanelle, the first virtual person. Danelle is a beauty guru on YouTube, vlogger, blogger, and new media darling. She is a current brand ambassador for for Keurig and previous AMD Tech Mom, Kraft Foods Delicious Byte brand ambassador, and Purex Insider.


  1. Jen B
    Jul 16, 2008 @ 05:17:47

    Sigh…if only I had a dishwasher. :)


  2. Beth
    Jul 16, 2008 @ 09:47:35

    Baseball hats??? This is a great blog, thanks for the tips.


  3. Green Stew » Blog Archive » 22 things you can wash in the dishwasher!
    Jul 16, 2008 @ 09:53:30

    [...] Click Here [...]


  4. Pia
    Jul 17, 2008 @ 03:47:35

    If you are cooking corn on the cob for a large crowd that can be cooked in the dishwasher. I have not tried it myself but saw it on a cooking show. She removed the husk and silk and just put it in the top rack and ran it through a wash cycle (without soap of course). The audience loved it when she gave it to them afterwards.


  5. The Nest Egg
    Jul 17, 2008 @ 05:44:06

    Great list!


  6. Lisa K
    Jul 17, 2008 @ 08:40:50

    I’ve never heard of cooking in there before, but it makes sense!


  7. dawntrenee
    Jul 17, 2008 @ 14:58:58

    There are a few thing that I would have never thought of. As a joke when we purchase our Dyson vacuum, I asked if the pieces could be washing in the dishwasher and the sales person said yes. I have never actually tried it, but I have taken it all apart and washed by hand.


  8. Home Ever After
    Jul 17, 2008 @ 16:40:47

    @ Jen B: We went without one for a while. It was painful!

    @ Beth: You’re welcome!

    @ Green Stew: Thanks for the link, ladies :)

    @ Nest Egg: Thanks, Melinda!

    Homemaker Barbi


  9. Home Ever After
    Jul 17, 2008 @ 16:43:41

    @ Pia: Corn on the cob is a great idea! Thanks for the tip. If you happen to remember the name of the show it was on, please leave another comment – I’d love to include it in the guide.

    @dawntrenee: That is awesome – I’m now going to start researching which vacuums are dishwasher safe. Thanks for the comment!

    Homemaker Barbi


    Oct 08, 2008 @ 16:34:21

    22 Unexpected Things to Wash in the Dishwasher…

    This is an interesting and entertaining article on 22 things that can be washed in the dishwasher. I knew of some of them from common sense and previous articles but some were new to me. I will definitely be cleaning a few things in the dishwasher th…


  11. Kara-Noel
    Jan 24, 2009 @ 16:03:40

    I’ll be washing my make-up brushes tonight!!


  12. SwellMichelle
    Feb 04, 2009 @ 10:08:16

    I can’t say that I would try to cook lasagna in the dishwasher, but I may try washing my Crocks in it.


  13. Home Ever After
    Feb 04, 2009 @ 10:58:58

    @Michelle: lol I don’t know how my family would feel about lasagna from the dishwasher either!


    Mar 09, 2009 @ 12:48:19

    I am *so* trying to envision cooking something in a dishwasher. … Not a pretty sight.

    Great ideas here — so far I’ve done trash cans, light covers, sponges and the underliners on the cooktop (try and live with a black stove — shows every drop of anything and dust). I’ve also done the accessories in the living room in the dishwasher, too (just gotta pick and choose which will be OK, but I have no problem with crystal, glass items, etc.

    Honestly, if I could, I would put our Maltese in there, but it’s hard to get a blow dryer setting. :-)


  15. Earthlad
    Mar 10, 2009 @ 04:37:02

    My washer does sum nice scrambled eggs.


  16. Sherry
    Mar 10, 2009 @ 04:59:06

    How cool is that! I hadn’t even thought about some of these. Thanks for sharing! :D


  17. Msslaydbug
    Mar 11, 2009 @ 12:26:29

    This is a wonderful article ! Thanks for sharing it. Some of these items I never would have thought about !!


  18. Make Money Online
    Mar 16, 2009 @ 00:00:21

    Wouldn’t it ruin the plastic toys? I dont advise to put any of these in the dishwasher.


  19. Alternate Uses for My Dishwasher « Small Town ~ Simple Home
    Mar 16, 2009 @ 09:21:14

    [...] to Comments I had just told you all about how I don’t like dishwashers when I ran across this article at Homemaker [...]


  20. Kristin
    Apr 12, 2009 @ 18:24:47

    This past saturday, my SO’s family had a get-together for their large extended family. They served baked potatoes that they pre-washed in the dishwasher! I was shocked… but they sure were clean! : ) (They didn’t taste different at all, either.)


  21. banteringblonde
    Apr 20, 2009 @ 20:38:56

    hmmm never thought about washing my brushes! Wow – washing baked potatoes in the dishwasher is brilliant – I’m so lazy I’m surprised I never thought of that!


  22. 22 Unexpected Things to Wash in the Dishwasher | brooms
    Sep 03, 2009 @ 07:31:13

    [...] is the original post: 22 Unexpected Things to Wash in the Dishwasher Categories: Plastic Brooms Tags: germs, how-to-article, kiss-the-germs, rack-placement, [...]


  23. KTK 98.5 » Dishwasher: It’s not just for dishes anymore
    Oct 06, 2009 @ 05:19:17

    [...] 22 Things you can clean in your dishwasher (besides dishes) [...]


  24. eve
    Jan 18, 2010 @ 17:02:07

    I just asked my DH if he could take my ceiling fan blades down for me, so I could wash them in the dishwasher. Apparenly they are hard to get down because my DH just said he would rather wash them himself than take them down. Hey,,LOL..that works for me. : )


    • Admin - Danelle Ice
      Jan 24, 2010 @ 19:21:52

      @Eve: Great job on tackling those cleaning projects! Now you’ll have a head start for your spring cleaning, at least. Glad to hear your fan got cleaned, one way or another!



  25. Cari
    Feb 19, 2010 @ 20:40:51

    I got my first dishwasher a little over a year ago and still smile happily every time I turn it on! I have a plastic basket from Munchkin I got at Target in the baby feeding aisle for sippy valves and small plastic things. I’ve never had a problem with anything melting. I do wash the toothbrushes and sponges. I wash the sponges every few days and they hold up fine. Toothbrushes we just have 2 sets so while one is down stairs getting clean the other set is ready to go.


  26. Lissa
    May 18, 2010 @ 14:09:05

    To put this in the politest way possible intimate pleasure items can also be put on the top rack of the dishwasher (as long as there is no electronics or that part can be removed) this is actually the recommended way to wash personal pleasure items


    • Danelle Ice - Home Ever After
      May 18, 2010 @ 14:18:55

      @Lissa: This is true. If your dishwasher has a “sanitize” setting, that is the best setting to use to insure the water temperature gets high enough to kill bacteria. However, you should know that the material of some adult toy items (such as cyberskin) is too delicate and will likely be ruined after one pass through the dishwasher. Firmer materials such as jelly, plastic or rubber will fare better in the top rack of your dishwasher. Good luck!



  27. Katherine
    Nov 17, 2010 @ 06:27:16

    What a great post! I’ll be featuring some of these tips (with a link back here, of course!) in a blog for an apartment complex. The blog will post next week, so please check there and read the article, or leave tips for the users.! We’d really love your feedback. Thanks again!

    -Ashwood Park Apartments


  28. kmengis
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 10:47:53

    I have always cleaned stuff in my dishwasher, Barbie dolls even. I haven’t tried shoes tho’, I’ll be trying that tomorrow. What I cannot clean in the dishwasher; big toys, toys with batteries, anything with an on-off switch, I use my handy steamer. I have the over-the-shoulder type. I restore outside plastic toys to sparkling shinning new. I use it on everything I take to consignment because everything looks new and it is 99% disinfected, with water/steam NOT chemicals. I use the steamer on all my deep cleaning house-hold chores. I even use it on moldings and cabinets in my kitchen and bath. you have to be careful not to take the finish off. ANYTHING that has creases and tiny corners can be cleaned with a steamer. I couldn’t detail the inside of my car without it. The carpet inside and in the car.too (spots!!!) Have fun!!


  29. Cheryl
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 11:15:59

    @Lissa….Remind me to never eat at your house. LOL


  30. Linda VanCouvering
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 13:02:57

    I frequently cook fish on the top rack in the dishwasher while I’m doing a load of dishes. I double wrap and seal the fish in heavy duty foil after I’ve seasoned it (salsa, teriyaki sauce, oil, lemon and salt and pepper etc.) and the fish comes out perfectly steamed. The advantage of cooking fish this way is there are no lingering fish odors to deal with and no pan to clean.


  31. Kim
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 12:39:23

    I love all these ideas. BUT, don’t forget about the glass spot remover liquid( I can’t remember the name of it for the life of me) can that cause any issues with any of these suggestion???? Happy Turkey Day to Everyone!!! Kim


  32. B M
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 15:37:42

    I put my bowling ball in the dishwasher to get the oil off and out of it from the lanes, First time I ever did it, when I opened my dishwasher it smelled like a ashtray. Thank goodness the smell didn’t last long. Works great on the ball, make sure finger holes are facing down so they drain.


  33. 10 Things You Didn't Know You Could Put in Your Apartment Dishwasher | Ashwood Park
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 07:36:14

    [...] gambit of objects that you can actually wash in a dishwasher. DIY Life, Holy Kaw! on Alltop, and Home Ever After each put together amazing lists of unusual items you can wash in the dishwasher. Each offers up [...]


  34. Jenn
    Jan 02, 2011 @ 01:19:31

    What about litter boxes and litter scoops? It sounds like it’d clean it but the thought of poop residue makes me hesitant.


  35. Nifty Thrifty Me!
    Feb 02, 2011 @ 10:53:45

    I love it! Some I knew about (I wash my Croc’s this way), some I didn’t. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.


  36. roachc420
    Feb 19, 2011 @ 19:23:49

    I’ve washed my dish drainer in the dishwasher. It was an odd experience, but it got it cleaner than I could have done by hand!


  37. Melissa
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 12:41:23

    I love these ideas! I, too, am always looking for things I can wash in the d/w. I always wash my kitchen scrubbers and sponges, as well as stove top parts and glass light fixture covers. One thing that I find the dishwasher does especially well is clean candle holders (votives or crystal candle stick holders). The heat melts the little bits of wax that are left and the glass/crystal comes out shining.


  38. Michelle
    Apr 07, 2011 @ 15:10:50

    i clean ==> stove’s tops, oven racks, pots & pans, any glass or china decorations, empty food jars (even the stickers can peel off ^_^ ) , surving trays, …

    but i would NEVER EvER clean these in my dishwasher ==> shoes!, pet toys!, broom heads!, trash cans!, pet litter trays!!!!!!!(yuuuuuuk!!), …..

    I caN’T even iMagine to clean these in SAME PLACE i clean my dishes that I EAT FROM !!!!!!!!!


  39. Terry
    May 09, 2011 @ 06:42:46

    Great ideas! :) Especially your tooth brushes!


  40. Things You Didn’t Know You Could Clean (or Cook!) in Your Dishwasher « Broken Secrets
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    [...] Real Simple, Home Ever After , The Bachelor [...]


  41. Kitchen Plumbing
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 04:51:23

    I’ve always used my dishwasher to clean my children’s toys which does a brilliant job. I never thought about most of these, especially soap dishes as I’m always cleaning mine.


  42. What you can wash in the dishwasher ~Combs & Brushes - AURETHA
    Mar 01, 2013 @ 09:05:18

    [...] M y combs and brushes come out squeaky clean. I would not, however, recommend washing an expensive wooden brush. Here’s more that you can wash and sanitize in your dishwasher! [...]


  43. Home Ever After
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 14:39:04

    @Pro: Laughing about the Maltese! I don’t think my family would eat dishwasher lasagne, but you never know!



  44. Home Ever After
    Mar 17, 2009 @ 07:58:16

    @Make Money: While there is the possibility that a plastic toy might not be dishwasher safe, I’ve never had one melt or get ruined from washing in the dishwasher (which I do frequently to sanitize for my toddler). We’re not talking about electronic or batter operated toys- just plain plastic baby and toddler toys (blocks, little people, etc.). Use caution when trying out a new toy, but mostly you should be fine.



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