That magic box in your kitchen that turns dirty dishes into clean ones can be used to clean a lot more things around the house. Think of what you're washing now: Dishes are glass or plastic; utensils, pots, and pans are metal. Look around, there are lots of others things made of the same materials!
There are some things that should never go into a dishwasher like wooden pieces, cast iron, and copper; so be a bit cautious and follow manufacturer care tips on specific items. The top rack is always the safest spot for loading because it is farther away from the heating element when drying. And, if you decide to wash those flip flops and rubber boots, you might want to give the dishwasher a good cleaning before the next dinner dishes load!
01 of 09
- Exhaust Fan Filters and Covers: Most kitchen exhaust fans have a washable filter to help catch grease in the air. Put the filter and any removable covers in the dishwasher for a thorough degreasing.
- Kitchen Sponges and Brushes: Each time you wash a load of dishes, place any kitchen sponges in the top rack and scrubbing brushes in the utensil holder.
- Silicone Oven Mitts and Trivets: As long as they are labeled as dishwasher safe, place these items on the top rack to remove food residue and bacteria.
- Microwave Turntables: When you clean your microwave, place the turntable plate in the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
- Refrigerator Shelves and Bins: If you don't want to hand wash these when it's time to clean the refrigerator, just run them through a dishwasher cycle.
- Cabinet and Drawer Hardware: If your ceramic and metal handles and knobs are sticky and dirty, remove them from the cabinets and place in a mesh bag on the top rack of the dishwasher. Skip hand-painted knobs or appliance controls in the dishwasher; the paint may come off.
02 of 09
- Vases: Most vases and decorative pottery pieces can be easily cleaned in the dishwasher. Don't risk chipping or color loss of delicate figurines and anything trimmed with gold or silver gilt. Use the top rack for everything except the heaviest pieces.
- Light Fixtures: Glass globes and shades from light fixtures, candles, or oil lamps shine up beautifully.
- Switch Plates and Outlet Covers: These get lots of use and plenty of grimy fingerprints. Avoid any painted metal or brass covers, but plastic ones can go right on the top rack. Be sure to safely put aside the screws so you can find them later.
- HVAC Vent Grates: Remove the dust and sticky grime from steel and aluminum vent grates. Hand wash any vent grates that have been painted.
- Desk Accessories: Take a look at your pencil cups, paper organizers, and small trash cans and send them through a regular cycle for a good cleaning.
03 of 09
- Soap Dishes and Toothbrush Holders: If you want to keep your family protected from bacteria, give these a weekly trip through the dishwasher.
- Rubber Tub Mats: If you use a rubber mat in the tub to prevent slipping, hang it to dry after every use to deter mold and give it a weekly cleaning in the dishwasher.
- Shower Poofs, Sponges, and Brushes: A weekly cleaning in the dishwasher will remove body soil and kill any bacteria and mold spores.
- Drawer Organizers: When you toss outdated cosmetics, give the empty organizers a trip through the dishwasher to remove makeup and bacteria.
- Exhaust Fan Covers: Give the exhaust fan cover a wash at least every six months to remove dust and oily residues.
04 of 09
Continue to 5 of 9 below.
- Hairbrushes and Combs: Plastic hairbrushes and combs can be placed in the utensil basket for an easy cleaning. Never include any natural bristle brushes or those with wooden handles.
- Facial Scrub Brushes: As long as manual allows, place the brush attachment from an electronic facial tool in the dishwasher utensil holder to kill bacteria.
- Manicure and Pedicure Tools: The detergent and heat of the dishwasher will kill fungus, bacteria, and leave tools ready to use.
05 of 09
- Bath Toys: Bath toys should be cleaned at least monthly. Make it easy by placing them on the top rack of the dishwasher.
- Plastic Toys and Building Blocks: Large plastic toys like the Jumbo Dinosaurs from Smarter Kids can be placed directly on the top rack. Small figures, building blocks, and game pieces should be placed in a mesh bag or box on the top rack for easy cleaning.
- Pacifiers and Teething Rings: As long as they are labeled dishwasher-safe, use a mesh box or a covered section of the utensil holder to give these a thorough cleaning.
06 of 09
- Pet Toys: Hard plastic or rubber toys will be bacteria free and look like new after a trip through the dishwasher.
- Food Bowls: Wash ceramic, plastic, or metal bowls daily in the dishwasher.
- Collars and Leashes: Woven, synthetic fiber collars and leashes (never leather) can be cleaned on the top rack of the dishwasher.
07 of 09
- Shin Guards: A trip through a dishwasher cycle will take care of bacteria and odors for shin guards and protective pads.
- Mouth Guards: Place mouth guards in the utensil holder or a mesh bag before washing.
- Golf Balls: You'll drive straighter with a clean ball. Place them in a mesh bag or box for easy cleaning.
- Yard Toys: Hard plastic yard toys like sand buckets, shuttlecocks, and dump trucks will come out looking new and bacteria free.
- Baseball Caps: Some people swear by the dishwasher to clean baseball caps. If you decide to give it a try, purchase a form to help the cap hold its shape; be sure the brim is not stiffened with cardboard; and only use a dishwasher detergent that does not contain bleach. NEVER place a vintage cap in the dishwasher!
08 of 09
Outside Tools and Accessories
Continue to 9 of 9 below.
- Garden Tools: A trip through the dishwasher will remove most fungi, pesticides, and sticky residue. Skip any tools that have wooden handles.
- Flower Pots: Plant diseases can be spread through dirty flower pots. Place thin plastic pots on the top rack and heavier pottery and terracotta ones in the lower rack.
- Grill Grates: Why spend time hand-scrubbing grill racks and grates? Pop them in the dishwasher as long as it is deemed safe by manufacturer.
- Rubber Boots: Unlined rubber boots can go in the dishwasher. Rinse off excessive dirt outside before loading on the bottom rack.
- Flip Flops: Shower shoes and rubber flip flops can be cleaned on the top rack. If you have shoes with fabric cording, like Tevas, be sure your dishwasher detergent doesn't contain bleach and leave out any shoes trimmed with leather.
09 of 09
Tools and Car Accessories
- Tools: Lots of tools get greasy and dishwasher detergent does a good job of cutting through the grime. Place the tools in the utensil holder and avoid any with wooden handles; and those that are electrical or battery operated.
- Keys: If your car or house keys get grimy, run them through a cycle. Remove any electronic keys or openers from the key ring.
- Hubcaps: You'll be amazed how sparkling clean hubcaps can be after a hot water cycle.
- Rubber Floor Mats: Shake off excess soil and place mats on the bottom or top racks of the dishwasher.
- Cup Holders: If the cup holders are removable in your car, give them a weekly cleaning on the top rack to get rid of sticky spills.
Clean and Disinfect Gardening Tools and Containers. University of Minnesota Extension.