You Probably Didn't Know The Dishwasher In Your Home Can Do This

Are you tired of washing everything by hand? Then let your dishwasher pick up the slack. A surprising variety of household items — clothes, hardware, and even chrome hubcaps and golf balls — can be cleaned and sanitized in that humble appliance. Of course, not everything is appropriate for a session in the dishwasher: Wood, cast iron, articles with natural bristles, and certain plastics can all be damaged or might even shorten the life of your appliance, via The Spruce.

Common sense goes a long way when cleaning non-conventional items in your dishwasher. Avoid washing anything too outlandish. Knowing the proper rack to use, utilizing the safest settings and cycles, and observing dishwasher-safe recommendations is essential. Take precautions not to foul up your appliance and prevent dirt or grease from transferring back onto your items, advises Housewife How-Tos. Zippered mesh bags and bungee cords are helpful to have on hand to protect and secure unusual washables, and your appliance's utensil holder will get much use.

Unusual items for your dishwasher

A dishwasher is suitable for cleaning and sanitizing baby and pet supplies. Pacifiers and bottles can all go in, including your dog's leash and collar. Flip-flops, vinyl shoes, and plastic footwear can be washed in a dishwasher, with this caveat: According to Consumer Reports, certain harmful chemicals can leach from plastics due to the heat generated. It recommends washing plastics on the top rack to maintain a safe distance from the machine's heat source. Anecdotal evidence indicates Croc shoes can go into a dishwasher, although the manufacturer warns against the likelihood of shrinkage.

Per CNET, figurines that are not fragile or gilded can go in a dishwasher. Mouth guards, safety razors, nail clippers, and hand-held tools such as screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers can also work. You won't have to manually wash trivets, stove knobs, sink strainers, and lunch boxes. EatingWell suggests that silicone oven mitts, kitchen sponges, and the turntable from your microwave can benefit from a turn in your dishwasher. And try washing metal or plastic trash cans or keys, provided they lack electronics. Athletes will be pleased to know you can safely wash shin guards, and a baseball cap can go in, too. Use a warm water setting and maintain the shape of the cap by placing it on a bowl or mug to air dry. 

Precautions to take

The heat from your dishwasher that kills fungi and bacteria might also damage your cleaning item. Aluminum with non-stick coating and copper shouldn't go in, and the seasoning on cast iron pans will be ruined in a dishwasher. High temperatures and detergents can discolor copper and other metals such as brass or bronze. Wood is susceptible to warping, scratching, or breaking in a dishwasher. When in doubt, place the item on the top rack, farthest away from the dishwasher's heating element. In any case, delicate items should go on this top shelf, meant for glasses and cups, says Bob Vila.

If you have bathed soiled items in your dishwasher, don't forget to clean it before rewashing dishes. Take care when using detergent with bleach if what you are cleaning might discolor. Follow instructions regarding the proper rack to use and whether an item is dishwasher-safe. Your dishwasher's capabilities go far beyond simply making dishes sparkly clean, and it's limited only by your imagination, practicalities, and safety considerations. However, you should draw the line at using it to wash your computer keyboard, clean potatoes, or cook meals.