what not to put in dishwasher

Washing dishes is a real pain, which is why automatic dishwashers are one of the most helpful kitchen appliances. If you read our blog, you know your dishwasher can clean much more than dishes, pots, and pans. From sanitizing baby toys to cleaning light fixtures, a dishwasher gets the job done and may leave you asking, “What is not dishwasher safe?” But have you ever thought about what not to put in a dishwasher?

Unfortunately, your favorite multi-tasking kitchen appliance can only do so much, so we’ve compiled a list of things to definitely put on the “hand-wash only” list in your home below.

What Shouldn’t You Put In the Dishwasher?

  1. Acrylic or Plastic Dishes

Plastic, acrylic, and melamine dishware typically have bright colors and unique patterns that bring a festive touch to any meal. This popular dishware is lightweight and highly durable but, unfortunately, often not dishwasher safe. The hot water, drying temperatures, and dishwasher detergent can be too harsh for plastic dishes. After repeated washes in the dishwasher, many melamine and acrylic dishes can crack, fade, and even break.

While many plastic insulated tumblers are labeled dishwasher safe, it’s best to wash these items by hand. The high temperatures and abrasive detergent in your dishwasher can cause plastic tumblers to crack and fade. If they are washed in the dishwasher too often, the heat can cause the thermal seal to fail, making the tumbler useless. Plastic dishes, glasses, or utensils should be at the top of your list of what not to put in a dishwasher.

  1. Knives and Other Sharp-Edged Tools

Knives are often in the mix when people ask what can and can’t go in the dishwasher. Let’s set the record straight —kitchen knives and other sharp-edged tools should never be washed in your dishwasher. Dishwasher detergent can dull the cutting edge, leading to the need for more frequent sharpening—and a shorter life for your cutlery. The heat of the drying and washing cycles can cause knife handles to loosen or crack.

To keep your cutlery sharp and long-lasting, wash it by hand. Hot, soapy water will usually get the job done, but use caution handling the sharp blades. Rinse the knives with warm water after washing and hand dry them with a microfiber cloth to prevent lint. Once dry, store your cutlery properly. If you choose to wash some of your cheaper knives through the dishwasher, load them properly to prevent accidents.

  1. Cast Iron, Carbon Steel, and Nonstick Cookware

The proper way to keep food from sticking and the iron from rusting is to season cast iron cookware with oil each time you wash it. The oil seeps into the iron, creating a protective coating against corrosion and an ideal cooking surface. When you wash a cast iron pot in the dishwasher, the detergent and hot water strip away the oil. To keep your cast iron cookware at its best, wash by hand with hot, soapy water, rinse, and dry.

Carbon steel pots and pans give you many of the benefits of cast iron and stainless steel, but they aren’t dishwasher safe. Like cast iron, carbon steel should be seasoned for optimal performance and longevity and it can be cleaned with soap and water. If you have stuck-on food, you can boil water in the pot to loosen it and use coarse salt to scrub away the rest.

Most nonstick cookware is labeled dishwasher safe, but you can get better performance and longer life for your nonstick pans by hand washing them. Even high-end cookware with a nonstick surface can take a beating from the high temperatures and detergents. The harsh conditions in your dishwasher could cause nonstick coatings to scratch or chip, and that’s often the beginning of the end.

  1. Delicate Glassware and Fine China

Fine china and crystal are beautiful and elegant, but they are fragile and absolutely not dishwasher safe! Harsh detergents and hot water can wreak havoc on delicate dishes and serve ware, and all that turbulence can cause chips and breakage. Even hardy lead crystal can become cloudy and etched if washed in a dishwasher. To protect china or porcelain heirlooms or your favorite crystal wine glasses, handwashing is the way to go.

  1. Wooden Spoons, Bowls, and Cutting Boards

The high temperatures and detergents in your dishwasher will strip the natural oils from wooden utensils, dishes, and cutting boards. The natural oils in these items provide moisture, and without them, wooden items will crack and even fall apart. The resulting cracks can also create the perfect environment for mold and bacteria to grow.

If you want to keep your wooden cutting boards and utensils food-safe and performing their best, always hand wash them. Warm water and dish soap are usually enough to clean wooden dishes and other items but don’t let the things soak, or the wood could swell and warp. To disinfect your wooden utensils, scrub the wood with lemon juice and baking soda, then wash and dry.

Save on Maintenance by Caring and Cleaning Your Dishwasher

If you’ve been washing some of these items in your dishwasher for years, it’s not too late to change your ways to spare your dishes (and appliance) any further damage! You can still keep your finest dishes and best kitchen utensils clean, and you’ll help them look, last, and perform their best. Regularly cleaning your dishwasher and following the manufacturer’s best practices should give you years of service. Not only will a well-maintained dishwasher churn out clean dishes day after day, but it can also help you with other household cleaning. And if your dishwasher features a sanitizing setting, it makes for a pretty handy disinfecting tool.

Read Our Handy Housekeeping Guides

Now that you know what you can’t put in a dishwasher, why not check out our other handy housekeeping guides and make house cleaning more manageable? Whether you tackle the cleaning or let The Maids® take on the dirt and dust, we want your home to be a cleaner, happier place for you and your family.

You can try our popular house cleaning services with no risk, thanks to our 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. If you aren’t pleased with any area we’ve cleaned, call us within 24 hours, and we’ll make things right for free. Get your no-obligation house cleaning quote today and see what our unique approach to residential cleaning can mean for your home.


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