20 Surprising Things You Can Clean in the Dishwasher

published Jul 16, 2018
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(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

Welcome to Apartment Therapy’s Chore-Free Summer. Every weekday until July 20, we’re arming you with time-saving shortcuts and hacks that’ll help you work smarter, not harder, when it comes to homekeeping this summer. Because cleaning doesn’t have to be a chore.

If you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher at home, you’re in command of one of the easiest, most versatile cleaning machines the world over. You can get a lot more than dishes clean in that narrowly-named kitchen appliance—without hardly trying.

Before you spend another minute wiping, dusting, or disinfecting something you don’t have to, walk through your home and look for these things that can get clean in the dishwasher. In true summer style, you’ll be able to set it, forget it, and get back to the sunshine.

Things You Might Waste Time Washing by Hand:

  • Flip flops and other plastic footwear: Wash away dirt and grime with a quick cycle every once in a while.
  • Plastic toys: Toss them in with a load of dishes and let the dishwasher sanitize them for you.
  • A dingy baseball hat: Set your dishwasher to the least warm temperature setting and be sure to turn off the drying cycle, which can damage the hat.
  • Pet bowls: Throw these in once a week to keep them safe and clean.
(Image credit: Kitchn Video)

Hard-to-Clean From Around the House:

  • Plastic succulents: These little guys can get dusty. The dishwasher will turn over every leaf, proverbially, and get it clean.
  • Intricately detailed cabinet and drawer hardware: Anything with grooves or fine details is tough to clean by hand. If they’re ceramic or a dishwasher-safe metal, remove the hardware and toss it in.
  • Vacuum attachments: Maybe even the whole vacuum (see: I Stuck My Vacuum Cleaner In The Dishwasher & This Is What Happened)
  • Air vents: Don’t waste time vacuuming each piece of the grille, just unscrew the vent from the wall and run it in the dishwasher.

Easy-to-Throw-In Kitchen Gear:

  • Utensil holder: Depending on what it’s made of, the crock you keep your countertop essentials in can take a spin in the dishwasher.
  • Sponges: Throw this in with your dishes to help disinfect it between uses.
  • Silicone oven mitts: Get them looking like new with a run on the top rack.
  • Refrigerator shelves: Clear them off, pop them out from the fridge and—as long as there’s room—your dishwasher can do the rest.
  • The rotating tray from your microwave: Lift it out and toss it in with the dishes once in a while.
  • Sink strainer: It’s gross. And you don’t have to clean it by hand.
(Image credit: Christine Han)

Gross or Grody Bathroom Effects:

  • Hair brush: Remove as much hair as you can by hand so it won’t clog the drain, then toss it on the top rack.
  • Small trash bins or lids: If it fits, the dishwasher will get it clean.
  • Shower caddy: Living in the shower can make this pretty grimy after a while, so toss it into the dishwasher. (Remove any rubber pieces, like suction cups, to make sure they last.)
  • Toothbrush holders: Put it in with the opening-side down.
  • Scummy soap dish: When you don’t know where the soap ends and the dish begins, it’s time for a fresh start.
  • Nail clippers and tweezers: Drop these, or anything like them, into the silverware caddy; most cosmetic tools are dishwasher safe.