Do you have a dishwasher at home? Then, you’ve likely found out the hard way there are a few things you shouldn’t put in the dishwasher. (Cast iron pans, high-end knives, wooden cutting boards, fine crystal, and copper pans, just to name a few.) But for the most part, the dishwasher is a pretty useful appliance, one that figures into at least a few cleaning hacks. That’s because you can clean lots of random items — beyond your dishes, flatware, and cookware — in the dishwasher.
And as you’ve probably heard, a dishwasher is much more effective at sanitizing your kitchenware (and other items) than a simple round of hand-washing. Want to check out all the weird things your dishwasher can clean for you? Read on to get the details.
CNET reports all of your most-used tools can go in the dishwasher. That’s definitely the easiest way we can think of to remove all that dirt and grease. “Wrenches, pliers and screwdrivers tend to get a sticky, greasy feel to them. Put them in the dishwasher on the hottest cycle with your normal detergent.”
The contents of your toolbox aren’t the only thing you can bring in from the garage to clean in the dishwasher. CNET reports you can also wash your hubcaps in the dishwasher. “Just add a cup of white vinegar to the detergent you normally use,” the publication advises.
3. Removable cup holders
While we’re talking about your car, are you tired of trying to scrub out your cup holders by hand? If you can remove them, then you can put them in the dishwasher. And believe us, that’s a much more efficient way to remove the cracker crumbs and soda residue your kids have left behind.
4. Window screens
If you have small windows, the fastest way to clean the screens is to stick them in the dishwasher. A quick cycle will do a great job of removing the dirt, pollen, and dust that accumulates. If there’s a lot of buildup, hose them down first to avoid clogging the dishwasher’s drain.
5. Rubber boots
If your rubber boots get covered in dirt, you probably usually hose them off. But an even easier way to clean them is to put them in the dishwasher. CNET explains you can just “put them upside down on the bottom rack to remove grime. Just make sure to wipe off any large areas of mud first.”
Your flip-flops probably accumulate tons of dirt and debris, whether you wear them around the house, walk around town in them, or reserve them for use only at the beach and on the boardwalk. Most of us don’t have a good way to clean away all the filth. But your dishwasher can help. Just put your flip-flops on the top rack of the dishwasher for an effective but gentle cleaning.
7. Baseball hats
Your favorite baseball hat is one of those items you should probably wash a lot more than you do, especially if you wear it outside during the hot spring and summer months. The Kitchn advises putting your baseball cap on the top rack, setting your dishwasher to its least-warm temperature setting, and turning off the drying cycle. You can buy a form to help the hat keep its shape. But The Kitchn reports “it’s not necessary as long as you remove the hat and reshape it for drying.”
8. Mouth guards
Athletes (and parents of young athletes) everywhere will be happy to learn you can put a mouth guard in the dishwasher. It’s the perfect way to sanitize one, and all you have to do is remember to put it on the top rack, not on the bottom rack or in the utensil holder.
9. Plastic toys
Parents with young kids will likely be happy to hear you can put plastic toys in the dishwasher to clean and sanitize them. Of course, it won’t work on toys that have electronics and use batteries. (A cycle in the dishwasher would probably ruin those.) But regular plastic toys can be safely and effectively cleaned in the dishwasher.
10. Dog toys
It’s not just children’s toys that can go in the dishwasher. You can also wash your dog’s toys in the dishwasher, too. That makes it a whole lot easier to regularly clean and sanitize them. Just remember CNET’s warning that most dog toys should go on the top rack of the dishwasher only.
11. Dog collars
Your dog’s collar also probably gets pretty gross (especially if your pup loves rolling around in the dirt). As long as it’s a water-safe material — most dog collars are — you can just put it on the top rack, and let the dishwasher work its magic.
Do your keys get grimy or sticky? (We don’t know how it happens. But it definitely does — especially if you have little kids around.) You can just throw your keys in the dishwasher to clean and sanitize them. They’ll look just like new. And they’ll probably smell fresh, too. You’ll just need to remember to remove any keychains that feature materials that aren’t dishwasher-safe. Leather, for instance, will likely be permanently damaged by a quick cycle. And of course, take off any electronic keys.
13. Shower head
Hard water can pose a number of problems. One of them is the buildup that gradually accumulates on your shower head. Fortunately, you can fix the problem without scrubbing away at the stains by hand. Just unscrew the shower head, and add it to a load of dishes once every few months.
14. Hair brush or comb
Your hair brush could probably use a good cleaning. And your dishwasher is definitely up to the task. Just remove as much hair as you can beforehand. (You don’t want it to clog up the drain.) And put your brush on the top rack of the dishwasher. Then, the dishwasher will rinse away all of the dust stuck in the brush’s crevices. And if your comb is heat-safe, you can put it in the utensil holder to sanitize it, too.
15. Hair ties
Your hair ties can go in the dishwasher, too. We all know these get a little grungy, especially if they end up at the bottom of your makeup bag or gym bag. CNET suggests putting them in the bottom of the utensil holder and weighing them down with a spoon. That way, they won’t fly out of the utensil holder once the wash cycle begins.
16. Makeup brushes
Nobody likes cleaning their makeup brushes. But you can make the task a little easier on yourself by putting them in the dishwasher, instead of scrubbing them by hand in the bathroom sink. CNET advises putting your dishwasher on a low setting, “so as not to melt the glue that holds the brush hairs together.” And if you use a facial brush (with a removable brush head) to clean your face, you can put that in the dishwasher, too.
17. Fingernail clippers
You probably don’t wash your fingernail clippers regularly. But you really should. And there’s no reason not to once you realize they can go in the dishwasher. CNET advises putting them in the utensil holder. Just remember you need to make sure they dry fully in order to prevent rust. Your tweezers are also safe to put in the dishwasher for the occasional cleaning and sanitizing.
Razors can get gummed up with soap, shaving cream, and other grime. But if there’s still some life left in it, you can make that razor as good as new by sticking it in the dishwasher. It’s a quick and easy way to remove the residue. And you don’t risk cutting yourself in the process.
19. Contact lens case
You’re probably pretty careful about keeping your contacts clean. But you should also wash your contacts case at least occasionally. CNET advises putting it in the dishwasher at least every month or so. You can just put it in the utensil holder, so it doesn’t fall through the rack.
20. Soap dishes and toothbrush holders
Other bathroom items that slowly accumulate dust, dirt, and grime include your soap dishes and toothbrush holder, plus whatever vessel you use to hold your makeup brushes, razor, or any other grooming essentials. Fortunately, most can go in the dishwasher. Just put them on the top rack. And, while you’re at it, don’t forget you can stick your toothbrush in the dishwasher, too.
21. Plastic succulents
If you have a black thumb instead of a green one, plastic succulents offer an easy way to brighten up your space without worrying you’ll accidentally kill your fifth echeveria, aeonium, or sedum. But plastic plants tend to collect dust in impossible-to-clean crevices, such as where the leaves connect to the stalk. Solve the problem by putting your plastic succulents on the top rack of the dishwasher the next time you run a load of dishes.
22. Light switch covers
Unscrewing all your light switch covers to repaint? Then, go ahead and stick them in the dishwasher to get rid of all the dust and grime that accumulates over the years. Just put them on the top rack of the dishwasher to keep the cleaning gentle. The Kitchn actually recommends unscrewing them all once a year to give them a good cleaning. You’ll just need to stash the screws somewhere safe, so they don’t go missing.
Do you use a duster with a removable fabric head? You can put it in the washing machine. But PopSugar recommends popping it in the dishwasher instead. “It’s safe to toss in the dishwasher,” the publication notes. “And this way, it doesn’t get lost in the washing machine.”
24. Mop cover
PopSugar also recommends putting your mop cover in the dishwasher. Like a duster cover, it can technically go in the washing machine. But you’ll probably get more life out of it by washing it with your kitchenware instead of your clothes. Your mop cover will get clean “without tons of twisting and tumbling in the washing machine, which cuts its life span.”
Most people know the sponge sitting in the kitchen sink hosts all kinds of bacteria. But did you know you can just stick the sponge in the dishwasher, along with your regular load of dishes, to sanitize it? The Kitchn recommends putting it on the top rack of the dishwasher. And if you use a brush instead of a sponge, you can stick that in the dishwasher, too.
26. Silicone oven mitts and kitchenware
Another kitchen essential you can throw in the dishwasher? Your silicone oven mitts. The Kitchn notes all of your silicone kitchen products can go in the dishwasher. (That includes drying mats, baking mats, bakeware, and utensils, to name a few.) Just put them on the top rack in the dishwasher to rinse away the grime.
27. Refrigerator shelves
Everybody hates cleaning the refrigerator. But one of the worst tasks involved has to be scrubbing the refrigerator shelves. Make it easier on yourself by putting them in the dishwasher. Smaller shelves can probably fit standing up. But larger shelves — or even the refrigerator drawers — will likely need to lay across the rack. The bottom rack should work just fine for these.
28. Grill rack
Scrubbing a grill rack takes a lot of time and usually results in a grubby sink. You can knock out this task in no time by putting the grill rack in the dishwasher, right along with all of the other kitchen essentials you use while grilling. CNET recommends using the hottest setting to get rid of all the grime. On a similar note, PopSugar recommends putting your range fan grills in for a quick wash cycle, too.
29. Cabinet hardware
Another useful tip from The Kitchn is to throw your ceramic cabinet hardware in the dishwasher to sanitize them and remove the dirt that gets caught in the pattern. “Instead of driving yourself crazy, scrubbing them with a toothbrush, just unscrew ’em and pop them in the utensil holder of the dishwasher,” the publication advises. Put them in the utensil holder. Most metal cabinet knobs and drawer pulls are safe to put in with your plates and cups, too.