17 Surprising Things You Can Clean in a Dishwasher

Woman loading a dishwasher
Photo by Ruslan Galiullin / Shutterstock.com

It may be called a “dishwasher,” but the handy kitchen appliance can clean a lot more than dishes.

Think creatively when you’re on a cleaning spree, and you might be able to combine a number of washing tasks all thanks to that one handy machine. In fact, your dishwasher not only saves you time, but it uses hotter water than your poor dishpan hands can stand.

Of course, there are limits to what your dishwasher should handle, as we detail in “16 Things That Never Belong in Your Dishwasher.”

Be careful, too, when loading items. Most dishwashers feature heating elements on the bottom. So, lightweight plastic items could warp or melt if you load them onto the bottom level.

Small items can often fit in your silverware caddy. I still use the top-rack-only Munchkin dishwasher basket I bought in 2007. I stack it with anything I fear might jump around inside the machine.

Here are some surprising items you might not have realized you can clean in your dishwasher.

1. Some Instant Pot parts

I love my Instant Pot, the trendy multi-function appliance that takes the fear out of pressure cooking — and can save you money.

The company states — and I’ve verified with my own Instant Pot — that the following parts are dishwasher-safe:

  • Lid
  • Sealing ring
  • Inner pot
  • Steaming rack

2. Oven mitts

Oven mitts take a beating, with everything from gravy to hot caramel accidentally decorating them with new, unwanted designs. Silicone mitts can go in the dishwasher, while cloth ones can be tossed in your washing machine.

3. Dish scrubbers and sponges

Don’t forget to clean the items you clean with. Stash sponges on the top rack, while long-handled brushes can go in your utensil holder.

4. Trivets

Stoneware, earthenware and silicone trivets and spoon rests are often top-rack dishwasher-safe. But use common sense — as you should for many items in this list. Grandma’s gift with the hand-painted sunflowers is too gorgeous to gamble with.

5. Microwave turntables

Glass turntables can generally go in the dishwasher. If you’re nervous about it, first check your microwave owner’s manual.

6. Refrigerator shelves and bins

Keep those fridge shelves and bins as fresh as the food they store by cleaning them in the dishwasher. You may have to run that load by itself, as these items can be bulky.

7. Trash can lids and wastebaskets

Do you have one of those plastic trash cans with a swinging lid? Swing the lid into the dishwasher.

Do you have wastebaskets that are small enough to fit in your dishwasher and are from a dishwasher-safe material like hard plastic? Toss them in, too.

8. Toothbrush and soap holders

When soap and toothpaste drip and dry on bathroom accessories, they leave an unsightly and sometimes germ-ridden mess. Give them a good shower on the dishwasher’s top shelf.

9. Hairbrushes and hair accessories

First, strip as much hair from the brush as you can. Then, pop the brush into your silverware holder. Or, if it is plastic or you just want to be safe, put it on the top rack in a dishwasher basket.

Keep ponytail holders, barrettes and similar hair accessories pristine by washing them in the dishwasher, too. Be sure to secure small items to ensure they don’t fall through the top rack. I like to use my Munchkin dishwasher basket for this because it has a top that snaps shut.

10. Shower poofs

How can you stay clean if your shower accessories aren’t clean? Every so often, toss your shower poof on the dishwasher’s top shelf for a bath of its own.

11. Contact-lens cases and pill boxes

Eye can see clearly now, my case is clean.

You can generally clean pill boxes — or at least the plastic ones — on the top rack as well.

12. Vent covers

Cleaning the dust out of all the little nooks and crannies of ceiling and floor air vent covers is time-consuming drudgery. To prevent metal covers from rusting, run them through a short dishwasher cycle and promptly dry them by hand.

13. Dustpans, broom heads and vacuum attachments

Your dustpan and broom heads are on a mission to clean up your dust bunnies and spills. But they’ll do their jobs better in the future if you give them a wash.

Every once in a while, run vacuum attachments through the dishwasher, too. Use the top rack and a low-heat cycle if they have rubber rings or other parts inside, or if you’re just unsure.

14. Pet bowls and toys

Fluffy and Fido deserve to eat off clean plates, too. It’s not ruff to wash plastic and metal bowls in the dishwasher.

The same goes for hard plastic toys.

15. Flower or plant pots

Run terra cotta and hard plastic planters through the dishwasher after brushing off any clumps of dirt that could clog pipes. The superheated water will help kill any plant diseases that might linger.

16. Hubcaps

No, really.

First, gently hose off your hubcaps if they’re especially muddy or grimy. You might also want to pour a cup of white vinegar into your dishwasher’s rinse-aid compartment before you start, and make sure they ride through the dishwasher alone.

17. Golf balls

Putt your golf balls into the utensil holder or a mesh lingerie bag and wash them that way. Fore!

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