You Can Wash That in The Dishwasher?

by Katy on May 26, 2016 · 27 comments

The following post first appeared over at

You might think of your dishwasher as a device for washing, well . . . dishes, but your dishwasher is actually a magical clean-just-about-everything, even-stuff-others-would-consider-disgusting machine.

Need an example?

I used to put my son’s potty seat through the dishwasher. Yes, his potty seat. In my defense I was working full time night shifts as a labor and delivery nurse and had two boys under the age of three. To say I was exhausted would be an understatement. This particular potty seat came apart into separate components with frustrating nooks and crannies, and it needed to be cleaned on a regular basis. So yeah . . . I would chuck it into the dishwasher, which horrified my well rested husband. And you know what? Nobody got sick from the practice and I can’t recall that anyone died. (I never washed it with dishes, and I always ran it empty afterwards.)

With two sons off to college, my days of potty seats are thankfully in the past, but that doesn’t mean that my dishwasher is only for dishes and silverware. Dishwashers are amazing tools, able to clean more than you ever thought. Here, let me take you on a room by room tour of what you can clean in your dishwasher.


Stove hood filter. It’s clogged with trapped grease, so pop it into the dishwasher.

Stove knobs, as well as the grates and drip pans.

Garbage can. You’ll likely need to remove the top rack, but unless you have a huge bin, it’ll likely fit in the dishwasher. (Plastic or metal? Yes! Wooden bin? No!) Can’t get the whole can into the dishwasher? Then just wash the lid.

Dish drain. This will likely fit over the top rack and you’ll be amazed how much better it’ll look.

Glass light fixture shades. These get dusty, greasy and buggy, so unless your fixture is a priceless antique or features hand painted details, put it in the dishwasher.

Broom and dustpan. No, you’re not going to fit an entire broom into the dishwasher, but the handle can usually be unscrewed. Just make sure to place it upside down to not splay the bristles. (This tip is for plastic fiber brooms, not natural fiber!) While you’re at it, put the mop through as well.

Play room

Plastic toys are perfect candidates for the dishwasher, although you may need to toss them in a mesh laundry bag to keep from scattering. If toys are hollow, it’s better to not put them through the wash, as trapped water can be impossible to remove. You don’t want mold growth!


The wastebasket. Again, only if it’s plastic or metal.

Cosmetics brushes. Just pop them in the silverware basket.

The shower caddy. It’s likely crusted with old soap and shampoo, so put it through the dishwasher.

Hairbrushes and combs. But make sure to first remove your old hair.


Heat register covers get both dusty and grimy. A quick run through the dishwasher can freshen them up. (Do not put them through the wash if they’re brass plated.)

Flip flops and Crocs can also get a new life from a run through the wash.


Gardening tools can benefit from a trip through the dishwasher. Just be sure to thoroughly dry afterwards to avoid rust. Again, no wood handled tools!

Laundry/Utility room

Dryer lint trap. A clogged lint trap is a fire risk, so run it through the dishwasher when you notice the mesh to be clogged.

I know it’s not officially recommended, but I’ve put my vacuum cleaner filter through the dishwasher a few times. Just be sure to first brush off any extra debris from the filter. Let dry in the sun before using it again.

Vacuum cleaner components. The hand held brush, even the roller itself can benefit from a cleaning.

Sports gear

If you’ve got sports gear, you do the world a favor by keeping it clean. Everything from baseball caps, to shin guards to helmets can go through the dishwasher. While you’re at it, go ahead and throw those old sneakers in as well.

Do NOT put in the dishwasher

Anything wood. Extended exposure to water removes protective finishes and can split the wood. Examples would include knives, wooden utensils and any tool with a wooden handle.

Cast iron. Your cast iron pans thrive on multiple thin layers of oil to keep them seasoned and non-stick. Instead give them a quick scrub under running water and then heat until the water evaporates.

Anything with electronic components. You might think this one is an obvious tip, but it still needs to be said.

Gold trim dishes. Great aunt Ethel’s fancy plates will lose their ornate gold accents if run through the dishwasher. Instead, wash these dishes by hand.

Bonus tip

You can remove the top rack of your dishwasher by taking out the clips that hold it in place. Just pinch and pull up, which allows the top rack to roll right out. This allows for tall items to go through the wash, perfect for buckets and wastebaskets! Maybe even a diaper pail.
Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 12.33.40 PM

dishwasher clip


You may choose to keep your child’s potty seat as far away from your dishes as possible, (and frankly I wouldn’t blame you if you did) but you’ll do yourself a favor if you start eyeing your dishwasher as the magical cleaning device that it is!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen@FrugalSteppingStones May 26, 2016 at 4:16 am

We put the removable seat from our Baby Bjorn potty seat in the dishwasher (we ran it separate from the dishes though). We also popped out the toys from the stationary entertainer, ran them through the top rack of the dishwasher, and popped them back in.

We also has a Barbie that had been given a full-body tattoo with some Crayola markers, and we put her in the top rack and – voila!- fresh and clean.


PK May 26, 2016 at 5:27 am

I feel the same way about my (laundry) washer. My husband is horrified sometimes about the things I put in. usually works fine, though some items must air dry instead of going in the dryer. Like those Crocs.

And also, by the way, do not put vintage painted Pyrex in the dishwasher. I’ve seen so many lovely collectible pieces ruined this way.


JD May 26, 2016 at 7:58 am

My dishwasher warranty is voided if I run anything but kitchen stuff in it — if they catch me that is, of course. However, I admit I do limit what I put in it and won’t put some things I’ve heard, such as car mats, in it (oh my gosh, the sand!). I have to say, a potty seat never made it to my dishwasher — I didn’t have a dishwasher until my kids were 14 and 11 — but I doubt I would have ever even thought of doing that. However, Katy, don’t say your potty seat days are behind you — more may be ahead! I have grandkids, including a 2 year old, and a potty seat now graces my downstairs bathroom again.
Funniest dishwasher use I ever heard — cooking a turkey in it. It had to be wrapped super well and as I recall, run through 3 complete cycles in a row, which meant you had to wash your dishes by hand all day and you likely had no hot water in the house when you were done. Plus you had a steamed turkey without any nice brown, crusty skin when done. How that was supposed to be more convenient or save money or time, I still don’t know, but my sister’s school staff newsletter published the method just before Thanksgiving one year.


jennifer May 26, 2016 at 10:40 am

I have heard you can steam fish in it for only one cycle and it is done. Never tried it.


Bee May 26, 2016 at 2:20 pm

I have heard of cooking greens such as collards or kale in the dishwasher. However, I don’t think that I would try it unless e were well washed already.
Fresh greenes are often sandy.


tadpole May 26, 2016 at 8:27 am

Thanks for this! Who knew!


Marilyn May 26, 2016 at 8:52 am

I would just add that I put our kitchen sponges in the dishwasher from time to time. Works for me.


jennifer May 26, 2016 at 10:56 am

I put my silicone pot holders in my dishwasher. I have also heard people put toothbrushes in the dishwasher, never tried it but I guess it would work to sorta steam sterilize them. I’m sure it’s better than doing nothing if you aren’t throwing your toothbrush away after an illness. My friend puts her cellphone case in the dishwasher and it comes out looking great. Oh, and those scrubby things you use in the shower to exfoliate with. I have put those through the dishwasher because they are very germ laden and I don’t replace them as often as recommended. Makeup bags do well in the dishwasher too, all the heat and steam removes all the waxy and powdery residue that get stuck on the inside of the bag.I usually turn mine inside out to wash. Also, don’t forget all those little refrigerator door trays, egg container, etc. can be put in the dishwasher.Thanks for the tip about removing the rack! I never even thought about that. I have some big glass bowls sitting around that need cleaned that will fit if I take that top rack out.


Nancy May 26, 2016 at 9:07 am

I have an air filtering system that cleans the air prior to it running through our furnace. I put the permanent filters in the dishwasher at least twice a year, but not through the drying cycle. That reminds me, it is time to do it again. I also run my sink drainer and my toothbrush holder and soap dish through the dishwasher. Whenever the bottom is full, and the top isn’t, I look around for things that I can put in the dishwasher to fill it up.


Diane C May 26, 2016 at 9:48 am

HA! My walking partner just put her Tom’s shoes through my dishwasher*. I am not-so-squeamish, so I just put them on the top rack, away from any dishes. I made sure the heat was off, so they were quite damp after the cycle, but otherwise looked like new.

*My dishwasher because we live in a drought area. She never uses hers and I have a family of four adults, so mine sees plenty of use. Neither of us would EVER run a DW that wasn’t reasonably full. I can’t say I support putting a trash can/garbage can/diaper pail in an otherwise empty load either. Sorry, a small amount of water and a little elbow grease will get the job done with better use of resources. A drop or two of bleach will provide all the germ-killing necessary. Also, I completely agree with washing the potty chair that breaks down to smaller pieces, but I wouldn’t bother with running the DW again afterwards. In the words of the famous Amy Dacyczyn, “selective squeamishness”, people!


JD May 26, 2016 at 10:16 am

I did once read a letter written to Dear Abby in which the man said his wife’s grown daughter took care of their house while his wife was hospitalized and he was with his wife. He came home to find the step-daughter had washed the toilet brush in with a load of dishes in the dishwasher and his problem was that now he was afraid to eat at his step-daughter’s house anymore.


Diane C May 27, 2016 at 7:12 am

Funny, I think toilet brushes are kinda gross and quite ugly. I don’t use one. I use a scrubby and/or cleaning rag, which I promptly throw in the washer. Do I worry about that when I run the next load? Heck no! I can’t even say I’m practicing selective squeamishness because it never even occurred to me.
I wonder how many people wash the brush, but never think to wash the container that holds it. Ugh, time to activate the SS button.
And JD, I hope Abby told him to get over himself, or treat his family to meals out every time he came to visit. Unless he is immuno-compromised, his lips should remain in the fully upright and zipped position.


Vickie May 26, 2016 at 10:54 am

Interesting. I’ve run toys through my old one, but I would never have thought of most of this stuff.
Maybe I need to replaced my defunct dishwasher!


jennifer May 26, 2016 at 11:00 am

Love this post, Katy! So many possibilities and so helpful, thanks!


Mrs. Picky Pincher May 26, 2016 at 12:28 pm

Wow, thank you for sharing this! I usually give my items a good dip in vinegar and peroxide to clean them, but the dishwasher never occurred to me!

I love these suggestions because, when items like the shower caddy get gross, a lot of people will just throw them away. Cleaning items like these regularly keeps you from having to consume more products, which is awesome!


Tammy May 26, 2016 at 12:59 pm

I don’t have a dishwasher currently, but I am too squeamish to do any of this! I’ll just scrub!


Mary May 26, 2016 at 2:30 pm

Our kitchen does not have a dishwasher, but these seem like interesting ideas for a person whose kitchen does have one.


Bee May 26, 2016 at 2:33 pm

I have used the dishwasher to clean many items, but never anything that has touched poop. Do you bleach these items first or run bleach through the dishwasher afterward? Is the sanitize cycle strong enough to kill the germs? I suppose Nurse Katy knows!


One May 26, 2016 at 2:51 pm

We (my ex and I ) didn’t use the heating unit on the dishwasher. His putting my toilet bowl brush in it was my ultimate clue that I could no longer live with him.


Ruby May 26, 2016 at 3:39 pm

I used to take out the top rack of the dishwasher and fit the big metal oven racks in the lower section to clean them. Basically all the removable parts of our gas stove go into the dishwasher: grates, grate pans, the little flame diffusers, the plastic knobs.


Patty May 26, 2016 at 5:00 pm

I wash my fridege glass shelves, the veggi bins and the plastic shelves from the doors in the dishwasher.


Jennifer May 27, 2016 at 4:38 am

The big round glass plate from the microwave. I just did that last night after I tried to melt some marshmallows in a cup and forgot about them. They were practically burnt on the glass plate. Now it’s shiny clean.


Marcia May 26, 2016 at 8:00 pm

If you have a self cleaning oven, the burner pans can go inside while the cleaning cycle is on. Got that from the instruction booklet.

I have washed combs and hairbrushes in the dishwasher almost since I got the dishwasher. They come out sparkling and don’t need replacing.


Isabelle May 27, 2016 at 7:32 am

Hopefully all of those things would get dishwasher washed without any actual dishes being washed at the same time. If not, this is just gross IMO.


Cathy May 27, 2016 at 2:41 pm

My now ex husband used my brand new dishwasher to degrease some parts for his motorcycle, I guess it functioned well to degrease the parts!


Serena May 27, 2016 at 9:17 pm

These are all great ideas except one: do not put cosmetic brushes in the dish washer. You will damage the glue that holds the bristles and could cause it to mold. Plus, depending on your bristle type, all that hot water and dish soap might ruin it.


Katja May 28, 2016 at 8:53 am

Some keyboards are designed to dishwash, and after seeing some that were not mine while using, I wish all work related multiused were this kind!


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