One of the most universal tools to help tidy up around the house is, surprisingly, the dishwasher. Despite its namesake as a “dishwasher,” it is actually a versatile cleaning machine that can do more than merely clean dishes. It works wonders on a variety of non-food related objects, as you’re about to see.
Many, if not all, dishwashers have a sanitizing setting, so when you recognize things need a sprucing, and there is either a lack of free time or a lack of means of hand-washing certain items, a dishwasher is a good option.
In fact, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, “an Energy Star certified dishwasher can use as little as 3 gallons per load” as opposed to 27 gallons of water used to clean items in a sink, making a dishwasher eco-friendly, as well as efficient. Some everyday household items that need sanitizing or regular cleaning might surprise people.
50+ Things You Can Wash in the Dishwasher, Besides Dishes
- Bath & Body
- Household Decor
- Kitchen Tools & Accessories
- Outdoor Home & Garden Essentials
- Pet Care Accessories
- Sporting Equipment & Accessories
- Tools & Vehicle Accessories
- Toys & Baby Care
While the dishwasher can quickly clean these items, keep in mind that you should not use it to clean certain materials like wood, cork, or particular metals. It might need a thorough sanitizing of its own after cleaning those non-traditional items.
Bath & Body Care Items
1 Drawer Organizers
Much like kitchen organizers, bathroom organizers quickly accumulate dust, hair, and other undesirable attributes.
2 Exhaust Fan Covers
You might be surprised to see the things that accumulate in the exhaust fan covers when you remove them. We’ve found spindly little spiders, ladybugs, and fluffs of dust. Wash them twice yearly for best results.
3 Facial Scrub brushes
Wash the plastic guides of facial tools in the utensil basket, but be sure they are securely in place. Lightweight items can sometimes fall to the bottom of the dishwasher, where they can touch the heating element and melt.
4 Hairbrushes & Combs
Disinfect hairbrushes and combs once a month, be sure to pull away any buildup of hair and toss it before sanitizing. Avoid washing wooden handles or natural bristle brushes.
5 Manicure & Pedicure tools
Prevent accidentally transferring bacteria or fungal infections by routinely washing mani and Pedi tools
6 Makeup Tool Cases or Holders
Make-up brushes and sponges should be cleaned as regularly as possible, yet should not be cleaned in a dishwasher. The cases or little plastic holders use to store them in between cleanings might be a bit gross, but a quick pop into the top rack of the dishwasher is sure to get them sparkling new again.
Suppose the material is capable of not melting in the sanitizing setting. In that case, it might be a good idea to use it because of the bacteria that exists on make-up tools and the transfer of that bacteria from the dirty make-up brush to the case that now needs cleaning.
7 Rubber tub mats
These anti-slip mats work great, but the suction cups on the bottom tend to accumulate a soap scum residue over time. Giving it a wash twice a month will deter mold growth and prevent soap scum buildup.
8 Shower Caddy
When’s the last time you emptied that handy shower caddy and gave it a good scrub? Never? You’re not alone. This overlooked item will come sparkling clean, without scrubbing.
9 Shower Loofah, sponges, brushes
A combination of mold spores, bacteria, and body soil tend to build up in these items, so wash them once per week.
Especially important during cold and flu season, wash toothbrushes in the machine’s utensil holder on a regular basis to reduce germ growth.
11 Toothbrush holders/ Soap Dishes
Toothbrush holders are great places to collect water that leads to mold growth. A bathroom’s humidity added to a toothbrush holder’s wetness, especially one where moisture cannot escape from the bottom, can harbor bacteria. These are not so easy to clean by hand, and since they need regular cleaning, the top rack of the dishwasher would work well. The same goes for soap dishes.
Consider the material of your toothbrush holder before using a sanitizing setting, as plastic ones might melt. Don’t forget to clean travel toothbrush holders as well since there will likely be bacterial growth from storing the toothbrush in travel.
12 Desk Accessories
Items such as pencil organizers, office trash cans, and small drawer organizers can benefit from a cleaning.
13 Dryer Lint Trap
You may diligently empty the lint trap after every load, but did you know that the use of softeners and dry sheets can cause a sticky residue to buildup on your lint trap, increasing the chances of a fire? Remove the trap, vacuum it thoroughly using a brush attachment and wash in the top rack.
14 Garbage Cans
The top rack can be removed to make room for small trash cans.
15 HVAC Vent Grates
Your system will run more efficiently if you routinely clean the HVAC vent grates. Remove as much excess dust and grime as you can before washing in the machine. Be aware that painted vent grates must be hand washed to prevent damage. This works on household fans as well. (You have to take them apart first!)
16 Light Fixtures
Carefully remove dull-looking glass globes and bring back their gorgeous shine by running them through a cycle on the top rack.
17 Switch Plates & Outlet Covers
Light switches and outlet covers ten to accumulate a variety of grime, grease, dirt, remnants of food (Cheeto fingers!), etc. Wash them in the top rack, as long as they’re not painted. Collect the screws in a Ziploc bag as you remove them to avoid losing them.
18 Vacuum Cleaner filter
Some brands of vacuum cleaners have washable filters. Wash in the top rack for best results.
Freshly cut flowers are beautiful to display, but if you leave them hanging around too long, the vase may get a nasty green ring. Luckily, this grimy ring normally comes right off in the dishwasher, with no scrubbing necessary.
20 Bar tools
Alcoholic beverages often have high sugar content, even without mixers and juices taken into consideration, so after a party or a fun night of making cocktails, the dishwasher is the perfect place to get all of those bar tools clean again. Wash bar mats in the dishwasher to get rid of all the grime in them. Ensure your equipment, especially the specialty cocktail tools like a muddler, isn’t made of wood, and you can effectively clean up the entire set of bar tools in the dishwasher.
21 Drawer & Utensil Organizers
Drawer organizers might not necessarily be dirty or dingy, but some dust or little crumbs often collect in the corners of them. Make life easier by taking them out of the drawers and popping them into the dishwasher.
Applying this technique on a monthly basis works nicely to ensure that when the utensils are put away, they will go into a freshly cleaned organizer. Besides tidying the organizer drawers for a kitchen, this is a nice touch to cleaning the draw organizers of a work desk, as being able to have a super spotless workspace might make you feel more diligent.
22 Exhaust Fan filters & Covers
Most exhaust fans contain a washable filter that is easily removed. You may be surprised at the grease and dust buildup if you haven’t cleaned yours in a while. Place it in the top rack for easy cleaning.
23 Kitchen Sponges and Brushes
Regular washing of these cleaning items will ensure they don’t harbor unhealthy levels of bacteria or viruses that can transfer to surfaces in your kitchen.
24 Non-stick Oven Liners
Liners work wonderfully to keep the oven from getting difficult to remove burnt-on splatters and accidental over-runs. However, they can get grimy pretty fast! Place them in the bottom rack to get them clean with ease.
25 Refrigerator Shelves
Refrigerator shelves are most often made with tempered glass and the edges have tiny cracks and crevices that end up sticky. Place them in the bottom rack to deep clean once bi-monthly.
26 Silicone Oven Mitts & Trivets
These items don’t do well in the washing machine, but they clean up great in the top rack, ensuring they’re completely sanitized.
27 Small appliance accessories
Inserts and accessories from smaller kitchen gadgets and appliances such as microwaves, toaster ovens, or hot beverage gadgets like coffee presses and loose tea infusers can get a nice deep clean in the dishwasher.
Professional cleaners often utilize the dishwasher for these items because it works as another pair of hands to get components of small appliances cleaned that would otherwise be tedious, time-consuming work. The rotating plate in the microwave and small grates like those in toaster ovens get perfectly clean in the dishwasher.
Grinding herbs and spices in a coffee grinder is a component to specific recipes, and to avoid making coffee that tastes like last night’s dinner, a run through the dishwasher will get the blades entirely fresh again.
28 Stove Grates
In the same vein, stovetop guards and grates, and even barbeque grates can get deep cleaned in the dishwasher. The jets blast away any stuck-on grime or food that might not get easily scraped away.
29 Utensil Storage Crocks
Typically ceramic or metal, utensil crocks, and holders are a mainstay in kitchens. Keeping one clean is essential to cooking on a regular basis because there are bound to be little countertop messes or food splatters that a utensil crock might catch. Cooking with clean tools is necessary, so putting them into a clean storage receptacle is very important.
30 Ziploc or Vacuum Seal Bags
This is an old-timey frugal housewife trick. Turn the bags inside out and place them in the top rack. Be sure they are completely dry before storing them away.
Outdoor Home & Garden Essentials
31 Flip Flops & Crocs
Prevent fungal infections and keep your footwear looking brand new with an occasional cycle. Never wash flip flops with fabric cording or leather (such as brands like Tevas).
32 Flower Pots
Prevent the spread of various plant diseases caused by bacteria and fungal infections by sanitizing them in the dishwasher. Terracotta fits best on the bottom rack, due to the weight.
33 Garden Tools
Putting garden tools or smaller flower pots in the dishwasher is a cheat to get them cleaned with minimal elbow grease as possible. Cleaning garden tools this way can help eliminate pesticides from garden tools or pots, but be sure they are thoroughly dried to avoid any rusting on the metal parts of the devices.
The use of a dishwasher for tools or pots that have used fertilizer while gardening goes against the recommendation since that could be harmful and likely contaminate the dishwasher. In any case, the dishwasher would need a run-through on a hot cleaning setting without any dishes inside to clean the machine after washing the garden tools.
34 Grill Grates
A deep clean on the barbeque grates would be a great way to spring clean the backyard to get it ready for all of the summer cookouts. It might be an excellent idea to get the scraper brushes for the barbeque cleaned before the start of the season.
35 Rubber Boots
It might surprise you that unlined rubber boots or muck boots can be washed in the dishwasher. Be sure to rinse off any excess dirt first, or else you could clog your machine!
Pet Care Accessories
36 Food bowls
Pet bowls are in constant use and are typically kept on a house floor for dust and debris to land in, promoting bacteria growth. Metal bowls can grow rust with the continuous water in them or the spills from messy eaters. A dishwasher, likely only on the top rack, will help clean them well.
37 Rubber Chew Toys
Much like kids and their toys, pet dishes, and toys will likely also need regular cleaning. A slobbery toy rolling around the house can catch anything yucky to it, and in order to maintain a healthy mouth, toys should always be kept as clean as possible. Be sure the toys are in one piece, with no cracks, before cleaning in a dishwasher.
38 Baseball caps
Possibly the oddest addition to this list at first glance, washing a baseball cap in the dishwasher might seem strange, but it actually makes a lot of sense. Baseball caps need regular cleaning, especially if used enough that the band of dried sweat starts to form inside of it.
However, baseball caps can be destroyed from the agitation inside a clothing washing machine, making the dishwasher a viable option. Be sure the baseball hat isn’t vintage and doesn’t have a bill made out of cardboard, and it will come out nice from the top rack.
39 Golf Balls
Any golfer will tell you that you’ll drive straighter if the ball is fresh and clean. A mesh bag works well to keep them contained.
Non-padded plastic helmets and hard-hats can be sanitized on the top rack.
41 Mouth guards
A regular toothbrush works well to clean mouth guards daily, reaching into the grooves, as does a denture tablet. Those are efficient ways to prevent bacteria growth, but if you are out of the tablets or are short on time and cannot manually clean your mouth guard, pop it into the dishwasher. Be very careful not to use the sanitizing setting because it might warp or melt your mouthguard.
42 Plastic Yard & Beach toys
Small plastic toys, such as dump trucks, beach play toys, and Barbie accessories can be washed in the top rack to remove built-up grime.
43 Shin guards
Kill odor causing bacteria in protective sports guard pads in just a single wash cycle.
Tools & Vehicle Accessories
Most dishwasher detergents cut through grease quickly and effectively. To wash tools, place them in the utensil holder. Once again, avoid washing wooden handled tools as they’ll likely crack.
Unpainted, metal keys can be washed if they’ve accumulated dirt and grime. Regular washing will help prevent dirt transfer into the lock during use.
I know what you’re thinking, a MAN definitely wrote this, because no woman would put car parts in the dishwasher, but since I got my Jeep, I’ve done it. It shines them like the top of the Chrysler building.v
47 Rubber floor mats
– Shake off any excess dirt, then place them in the bottom rack. This works well on slush mats.
Cup holders in car seats or strollers are inevitable places that collect sticky, dirty messes. A quick pop of these into the dishwasher is a stress-free step to maintaining clean equipment for the household’s children. There’s no reason to scrape and scrub the crevices of these cups; a top rack of the dishwasher works wonders to get them just like new.
Toys & Baby Care Items
49 Baby Bottles
Situate these in the top rack of the dishwasher to effectively sanitize them and completely negate the need to scrub by hand.
50 Bath Toys
Little children love to put anything they can touch in their mouths. Sticky hands and mouths are synonymous with kids, making the dishwasher a great place to dump toys to get cleaned quickly. A rattle like this or another toy where water can easily get in is not a good idea for the dishwasher because mold can grow inside and will likely not dry well.
51 Building Blocks
As long as the toys are in one piece like plastic building blocks and not like a hollow rattle produced by adhering two pieces together, they can go on the top rack of the dishwasher. Always wash smaller plastic toys in a mesh washing bag in the dishwasher, so they don’t get lost inside the machine.
52 Pacifiers & Teething rings
There are some really nice cleaning and sanitizing plug-in machines for baby equipment out there, but if you don’t have the money or the space to get one, the dishwasher’s top rack is a great choice instead. There are some options out there for cheap baskets designed to hold the pacifiers or small bottle pieces so they don’t get lost inside the dishwasher, but the use of a mesh clothes washing machine bag works best to keep them corralled inside the dishwasher instead.
Plus 10 Items that should NEVER go in the Dishwasher:
1. Cast Iron
4. Kitchenaid Mixer Attachments
5. Plastics containing BPA
6. Anything with Electronic components
7. Gold Trimmed Dishes – those ornate gold accents will wash off!
8. Toys that contain glued pieces, such as magnets, should not be wash in the dishwasher as the heat can soften the glue holding the magnets in place, causing a potential choke hazard.
Dishwasher Bonus Tips-n-Tricks
Remove the top rack of the dishwasher with easy by popping off the clips that hold it in place. Pinch the clip and apply gentle even pressure pulling up. The top rack can then be removed with ease. This trick is handy for washing over-size objects such as bathroom garbage cans and hubcaps.
For non-food items that contain grease, such as tools, always run a sanitize cycle in an empty machine to clean the dishwasher before resuming normal use.