Surprising Things You Can & Cannot Put in the Dishwasher

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I love my dishwasher. It gives so much and asks for so little in return. For just a dollop of detergent, it washes, sanitizes, and shines my dishes while I sit on the couch binge-watching Netflix. But I’ve learned the hard way there are many items that shouldn’t be washed in the dishwasher. In fact, I’ve ruined many expensive items by doing just that. To prevent you from suffering my fate, here’s a list of things you should thrown in the dishwasher, as well as some surprising things you can.

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Don'ts:

Sharp knives

It’s fine to wash stainless steel butter knives in the dishwasher, but sharp specialty knives need to be washed by hand. The spray of water emitted by your dishwasher knocks things around and dulls your knives over time. They also present a hazard to anyone who might reach their hand inside. And if your knives have wooden handles, the excess moisture will warp, crack, and otherwise ruin them.

Anything hand-painted or with gold trim

If you have glasses, mugs, or plates with gold or hand-painted detail, it’s best to wash them by hand. The powerful blast of the dishwasher will rub those beautiful accents away. Be sure to wash these treasures by hand so they remain bright and vibrant.

Anything wood or bamboo

If you’ve just chopped raw chicken, it might be tempting to sanitize your cutting board by running it through the powerful heated spray of your dishwasher to rid it of any harmful bacteria. Some advice? Resist. The. Urge. Too much moisture will lead to warping and cracking, which ironically, creates a perfect home for lurking bacteria.

Related: Wooden Cutting Board Care

Cast Iron Cookware

The moisture can lead to rust and in addition, the jets of water will strip your cast iron pans of their seasoning.

Watch: How to Clean a Cast Iron Pan

Insulated travel mugs

If you enjoy sipping your morning coffee on the road, you’ll want to avoid washing your insulated mug in the dishwasher once you get home. The heat from the dishwasher can damage your mug’s vacuum seal. This will not only mean your beverages will no longer remain hot but potentially lead to leakage and mildew. Hand wash your insulated mugs in the sink so you can continue to enjoy them.

Nonstick cookware

I love nonstick cookware. It’s easy to cook with and even easier to clean. If you’re also a fan, you’ll want to make sure you avoid washing it in the dishwasher—the blast of water will dull and wear away at the nonstick coating, and you’ll be forced to buy yourself a new set of pots and pans.

Dos:

Plastic toys

Sturdy plastic children’s toys can be washed and sanitized in the dishwasher. Just be sure to put them in the top rack so they don’t melt.

Sponges

Sponges are famous for being breeding grounds for bacteria. Pop them in the dishwasher and let that hot water and soap sanitize them! Or you can throw them in the microwave for about 30 seconds to get rid of germs.

Rubber boots & flip flops

Are your rubber boots and flip flops feeling sweaty, gross, and not-so-fresh? Running them through the dishwasher will eliminate odor, grime, and restore them to their former glory.

Rubber floor mats

The easiest way to clean your car’s rubber floor mats is to shake off the debris and throw them in the dishwasher. Just be sure to dry them before you put them back inside the vehicle.

Light switch covers

Your light switch covers are touched by countless fingers of varying degrees of cleanliness. The easiest way to clean them is to unscrew them and wash them in the top rack of the dishwasher.

Microwave turntables

The simplest way to keep your microwave turntable sparkling clean is to place it in the dishwasher the next time you’re running a load of dishes.

Pet toys

Your pet’s rubber and plastic chew toys are full of slobber and germs. Luckily, cleaning them is as easy as putting them in the top rack of the dishwasher and letting the hot water do all the work.