A-Z Uses for Your Dishwasher

posted by Andrea | 03/17/2016
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dishwasher

I’ve had a dishwasher for as long as I can remember — and you better believe that I use it for everything I possibly can!

I’m not really one to worry about ruining something in the dishwasher, so I fill it as full as I can…and turn it on. There are only a few things we still wash by hand — like large pots and pans, baby bottles (for some reason, I’ve always felt the need to wash these by hand), and some of my good knives.

I also use my dishwasher for a variety of other cleaning needs, and am always surprised when I find something else I can stick in the dishwasher!

If you’re looking for a few more ways to better-utilize your dishwasher, here’s a fun “A to Z list”!

dishwasher

A-Z Uses for Your Dishwasher

Action figures and small toys: Although Nora loves helping me wash toys in the sink, when I’m in a hurry, I toss a bunch of smaller toys in mesh garment bags (one of my favorite things) and put them on the top rack.

Brushes: as long as they are made of plastic, hair brushes, makeup brushes, combs, etc. should be perfect candidates for a spin in the dishwasher. Just be be sure to remove all the hair first so you don’t clog your drain.

Crystal stemware: I’ve always been told not to put crystal stemware in the dishwasher… but I ALWAYS do! We don’t have many fancy glasses, but we do have a few and they have never been hurt by running them through a dishwasher. In fact, I feel like I would have a better chance of breaking them if I washed them by hand and chiped them on my sink or dropped them with my slippery wet hands.

Dog toys/bowl: keep your pet’s food dish and toys germ-free by tossing them on the top rack.

Electrical outlet covers: all our covers are white, so if they get really grimy and sticky I just put them in the dishwasher

Flip flops: Hook them on tines in the top rack. (Note: I’ve been told that Crocs are NOT dishwasher-safe — but I’ve never tried washing them this way)

Garden tools: obviously, you don’t want to wash these with your dishes, but small pots and gardening tools clean up nicely in the dishwasher.

Hats: wash them in a Ball Cap Washer ($6.29 from Amazon) on the top rack and they’ll hold their shape much better than in a washing machine. (NOTE: Don’t wash with dishes as food particles will stick to the hat!)

Ice cube trays: We didn’t have an automatic ice maker in our old house, and I found that by washing our ice cube trays every month, the ice cubes popped out of the trays easier. Maybe it was just my imagination — but it seemed to help! We also use ice cube holders for various crafts and activities, so it’s nice to simply toss them in the dishwasher when they need a good cleaning.

Jewelry: I’ve washed my bulkier costume jewelry in mesh bags or in the silverware caddy — obviously, I wouldn’t put real gold or gems in the dishwasher!

Knee pads and shin guards: These will clean up great on the top or bottom rack.

Lunch boxes and bags: Whenever these get gross and sticky, just toss them on the top rack. You may have to let the lunch bags dry for awhile

Mouth guards: These get SO gross, but all you have to do is toss them in the silverware caddy and they’ll clean up nicely. This will work for retainers too 🙂

Nail clippers and tweezers: I once read that we are apparently supposed to sanitize nail clippers and tweezers after EVERY use! I don’t do it that often, but when I think about it, I will pop them in the silverware caddy to clean them up. .

Office supplies: quickly clean your pencil cup, drawer dividers, and any other plastic desk accessories by tossing them on the top rack.

Pacifiers: Our favorite MAM pacifiers come with a little self-sterilizing case that you use in the microwave; however, if you don’t have that, you can simply clean your pacifiers in the dishwasher. I’d put them in a mesh garment bag or in their own cubby within the silverware caddy.

Quilting rulers and needles: Although I am not a quilter, I asked around on Facebook and was told that quilting rulers can get very gross and are something that several of you have cleaned in the dishwasher. I was going to list “Quart Jars” because I always wash all my canning jars in the dishwasher right before I can anything — this way I know they are all super clean.

Rain boots: simply remove the liners and lie horizontally.

Sponges: I regularly wash all my sponges, either in the dishwasher or the washing machine. I do always put them in mesh bags so they don’t flop around and get sucked into the drain.

Toothbrush and toothbrush holder: I know people who put their toothbrushes in the dishwasher every day. I personally don’t do it that often, but we will regularly stick the kid’s toothbrushes in the dishwasher to sanitize them (especially when someone gets sick).

Utensils: Yeah, I couldn’t come up with anything for “U” — so in case you didn’t realize you could put utensils in the dishwasher… now you know 🙂

Vent covers (register covers): These get really dusty and can be hard to clean. As long as they are plastic, aluminum, or steel — feel free to stick them in the dishwasher.

Window screens: as long as they fit in the dishwasher, this is a REALLY easy way to get them squeaky clean.

X-Acto knife: I’ve personally never done this, but I was told it works (and I was hurting for something with the letter X!)

Yams and potatoes: Instead of scrubbing all your yams and potatoes by hand, simply put them on the top rack and run the rinse cycle with NO soap!

Zesters and graters: Have you ever tried washing these by hand? If so, you have likely cut your fingers or frayed your wash cloth! I toss all our zester and graters (including the food processor attachments) into the dishwasher for a scrape-free cleaning!

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Now that you have this nice long list of things that you can wash in the dishwasher, I probably should remind you that it’s not a bad idea to actually clean your dishwasher every once in awhile (you might be surprised how gross it is!) Here’s the simple 3-step method I use to clean my dishwasher.

Do you have have any other funny or unusual items to add to my list? What about any suggestions of what NOT to put in the dishwasher?

What do you clean in your dishwasher?

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55 comments

  1. Jennifer P

    03/17/2016

    I clean my small in-sink dish drainer in the dishwasher. Fits in the top rack.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good tip! Thanks!

    [Reply]

  2. Arlene

    03/17/2016

    My mother-in-law cooks a whole salmon in the dishwasher…securely wrapped in foil and of course no detergent! It’s delicious.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’ve heard of people doing this, but have never dared to try it! Maybe sometime I will have to!

    [Reply]

  3. Mary in Maryland

    03/17/2016

    The dishwasher does a fabulous job on the filter from the exhaust hood over the stove. Uh, I was told not to use hot water on my night guard.

    [Reply]

  4. Becky

    03/17/2016

    Thanks for all of the ideas! This might have been mentioned but as well as sponges, I put my dishrags in the dishwasher too about every other day to sterilize them.

    [Reply]

  5. Chris K in Wisconsin

    03/17/2016

    Spring cleaning!! Just yesterday took the glass fixtures off the lights in the bathroom and from the ceiling fan in the kitchen and put them in the dishwasher ~ everything looks brighter now!! Also, the small Rubbermaid stool I use in the kitchen, and several glass birds from shelves went in as well. Each summer when we set a few fans out in the house, my hubs takes them apart and we put the blades in the dishwasher. Somehow they are always dirty after a full summer. We do hats in there, too, with those forms.
    If it is glass or plastic, I have likely cleaned it in the dishwasher!!

    [Reply]

  6. Erin

    03/17/2016

    You did it! haha

    [Reply]

  7. Alicia @ Turquoise Grace

    03/17/2016

    This is such a great idea! I love the thought of using my dishwasher any way possible- it saves so much time. I also put my kids toothbrushes in the dishwasher!

    [Reply]

  8. Jill

    03/17/2016

    When you wash kid’s toys in a mesh bag on the top rack, do you still use the bottom rack for dirty dishes, etc? Or do you run a load of just non-dish items? Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Often, it’s just a couple of toys (hard, plastic, teething toys, etc.) so I just toss them in with the dishes. However, if they had any sort of cloth or fabric to them, I’d throw them in the washing machine instead (as I’m sure food would stick to the cloth).

    [Reply]

  9. Ann

    03/17/2016

    I used the dishwasher to clean my 12″ resin
    “Mr. & Mrs. Snowman” that had been outside decor for a 2-3 months! They looked like new!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    love this!

    [Reply]

  10. Steve Magruder

    12/20/2014

    I would say Recyclables for ‘R’. Anything you’re going to recycle but has some leftover stuff in them that is hard to get off, just stick them in the dishwasher. This is especially useful if you have extra space to fill in before running.

    [Reply]

    Alicia G Reply:

    Please be very careful with this. We had a very expensive repair b/c our line was so clogged with peanut butter and other fats from me tossing things into the dishwasher like that for our recycling. I thought I was doing a good thing but it backfired!

    [Reply]

  11. Debbie

    06/02/2014

    I wash everything – globes from most light fixtures, heat vent covers, toothbrushes, wastebaskets, the toilet bowl covers, stove grates. You get the picture! All come out very clean, Amazing what you can think of to put in the dishwasher!

    [Reply]

  12. Stacey

    06/02/2014

    I put the light covers from the ceiling fans and other glass shades in the dishwasher as well as a lot of my knick knacks.

    [Reply]

  13. Cindy

    04/04/2013

    Oooooh! What about fan blades? I bet top rack safe?
    Love the toothbrush idea and lots of others. Thanks!

    [Reply]

  14. Ann

    03/20/2013

    When you load up your dishwasher, if there is a little room left, look around. Rather than waiting until it is full to run it (and risk that not all of the new stuff will fit in) throw in any dusty knick-knacks, tea kettle, etc.

    [Reply]

    Lisa the Farm Lady Reply:

    That’s a great idea! Our farmhouse gets really dusty because of our dogs/dirt blowing around outside…thanks! 🙂

    [Reply]

  15. Heidi

    03/20/2013

    I do all my canning in the dishwasher. Soup, salsa, peaches, applesauce, pears … all of it. Skip the canner, load up your dishwasher, and run on the sani-rinse cycle. It also cleans everything up so that you don’t have all the sticky mess to contend with! And best of all, you can fit tons of jars in one cycle. I usually put the quarts on the bottom and pints on top, and can do a whole batch of something in one cycle. I’ve never had anything fail to seal this way either, and I don’t even own a canner anymore since this is so effective.

    [Reply]

    Tammy Reply:

    Genius!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    What!! Are you serious! This could revolutionize the way I can from now on. Do you have any more tips or another website you could point me to for more information?
    Thanks so much!

    [Reply]

    Kim Reply:

    I’d really caution everyone about dishwasher canning. It puts your food at risk since a dishwasher does not reach the boiling point, nor does it heat evenly throughout the dishwasher. The USDA does not recommend this method.
    On page 10 of the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, it says:
    “Equipment and methods not recommended:
    Open-kettle canning and the processing of freshly filled jars in conventional ovens, microwave
    ovens, and dishwashers are not recommended, because these practices do not prevent all
    risks of spoilage.”
    You can find the full PDF of their recommendations here: http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/usda/GUIDE%201%20Home%20Can.pdf

    [Reply]

  16. The Dishwasher and its Many Uses « Endless Baby

    04/18/2012

    […] glassware however being a busy mom or dad there is so much more this dishwasher can clean. I read this article on Simple Organized Living and I must tell you, yes some of the items washed made me laugh. I hope […]

  17. Lindsey

    04/17/2012

    Do you put soap in the dishwasher when you put in your toothbrush?

    [Reply]

  18. Barbara

    02/15/2012

    I clean our electronic air filter cells in there along with the metal screen prefilters. They can be washed in the bathtub but then I have to clean that up next!

    [Reply]

  19. Eileen @ Space Matters

    02/15/2012

    Thanks for all the great ideas! I will be sure to share them around 🙂

    [Reply]

  20. April H

    02/15/2012

    Cloth diapers! If you get a residue buildup put them in the top rack with no soap. The wuper hot water strips them clean.

    [Reply]

  21. Patty Gardner

    02/15/2012

    Sponge.

    [Reply]

  22. Lori

    02/15/2012

    I put my glass globes from my light fixtures in the dishwasher. I also put my scrubbie from my kitchen sink in.

    [Reply]

  23. Tanna

    02/15/2012

    This isn’t a use for the dishwasher as much as the dishwasher detergent. I found out you can use your dishwasher detergent in your regular washing machine. Be careful though, it does contain bleach. I once splashed teriyaki chicken all over my favorite white cotton blouse at a restaurant . I put it in the washer with some of the detergent and not a stain left!

    [Reply]

  24. monica

    02/15/2012

    I clean/santize my sink drain plugs and bathroom trash cans. Great tips…flip flops! Never thought of that one!

    [Reply]

  25. Fran

    02/15/2012

    I wash the stove top burners and chrome trays from under the burners in my dishwasher.

    [Reply]

  26. Anne Kamstra

    02/15/2012

    We also wash our metal furnace filters in there with no soap and short wash. Works great.

    [Reply]

  27. Naomi

    02/15/2012

    My dad takes the covers off the car head lights and puts them through. Come up a treat!

    [Reply]

  28. Kitchen Plumbing

    07/05/2011

    Great tips on what to put into your dishwasher never thought about putting half of these things in there. I used to always put my children’s toys in there for a quick clean.

    [Reply]

  29. Laura Kasperski

    04/19/2011

    I knew an older lady who never used her dishwasher, so she kept her paperwork in there. The tines kept them all standing upright and in neat order. She kept envelopes in the top rack and full size papers in the bottom rack. If I didn’t use my dishwasher, I would do this for sure!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Ha — that’s hilarious! Well, at least she had organized papers!!
    However, with 3 kids, I don’t think you can sacrifice your dishwasher 🙂

    [Reply]

    Karen Reply:

    Ha! I’m thinking of storing my canning equipment in mine. We bought it because it was supposed to be really quiet while running, but immediately after the warranty expired it stopped working properly. We had a couple repairs, none lasted, so now it is totally quiet. I would love to sacrifice it. Off a bridge.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    My grandma stored dishes in hers because she lived by herself and only used 1 dish at a time (and washed it immediately).

    [Reply]

  30. Live Love Serve 04 16 11 | House of Hills

    04/16/2011

    […] A-Z Uses For Your Dishwasher: Simple Organized Living – LOVE this. There are so many things that you can use your dishwasher to clean besides just dishes. Here at the House of Hills we also put baseball caps and Crocs in the top rack. Yep, we do. […]

  31. SJVSJV

    04/01/2011

    I regularly put my small plastic trashcans in the dishwasher. I’ve put the removable parts of my refrigerator in there, though I did belatedly notice when taking the crisper drawer out that it said “not dishwasher safe” on the bottom! The most unusual thing I’ve put in the dishwasher…mini blinds. keep them pulled tight with just a little bit of space between each slat, and arrange the string outside the dishwasher so it doesnt get tangled up.

    [Reply]

  32. Sue

    03/29/2011

    I never would have thought to put these things in the dishwasher.. I never had a dishwasher growing up.. and I have had to leave to use one since I have been married. I broke the first dishwasher we had in our apartment right after we were married for Lack of use.

    But putting the kids bath toys in there is a great idea.. Thanks for the tip !

    sue in NJ

    [Reply]

  33. Jaci

    03/26/2011

    I’ve put Crocs on the top rack and they turn out great. I just take them out before the drying cycle. I have also sanitized clay pots in the dishwasher.

    [Reply]

  34. jane mcjunkin

    03/26/2011

    Great ideas Andrea. Want a humorous use. I visited an elderly lady last week and guess
    where she kept her snacks. You guessed it, her dishwasher.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    ha — that’s hilarious! My grandma actually kept her dishes and food storage containers in her dishwasher {the snacks were in the oven!}. She obviously didn’t cook much!

    [Reply]

  35. Kim

    03/26/2011

    Do NOT put the baseball hat case in the regular clothes washing machine. We did and it tore it up! It was awful. Make sure it is secure in your dishwashing machine.

    [Reply]

  36. Amy

    03/26/2011

    My girls just emptied the dishwasher. I think I’m going to go around the house to find stuff to wash! haha

    I think I’ll start with bath tub toys!

    Great ideas!!

    [Reply]

  37. Terri G.

    03/25/2011

    Just don’t put the kids in there.

    Cool tips!

    [Reply]

  38. Kelli

    03/25/2011

    I used it wash my contact case, too. Great tips! Very creative.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, I didn’t think about a contact case since I don’t use them…but I’ll add that to my growing list. Thanks 🙂

    [Reply]

  39. Marci

    03/25/2011

    Wow, I’m a basic just dishes in the dishwasher girl but I may have to try some other items. Vent covers sounds great to me right now. Thanks for the refreshing ideas.

    [Reply]

  40. amy

    03/25/2011

    as far as stemware in the dishwasher the biggest issue i’ve seen is from movement when things wiggle around. best problem solver: rubber banding the stems to the rack loosely so they don’t move! like a seatbelt for your glass ware….i put the rubber band around the stem through the side of the rack and back around the stem!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Great tips Amy — I personally have never had a problem with my stemware, but this is SUCH a great a idea!!

    Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]