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What can you put in the dishwasher?

Is your kitchenware dishwasher safe? Here’s a list of what not to put in the dishwasher.


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Blue and yellow dishes in dishwasher

Dishwashers are one of those wonderful inventions that make life that bit easier. When it comes to cleaning up after a meal, it can be tempting to load everything into the dishwasher and tick dinnertime off your list. However, not everything is designed for machine washing.

There are plenty of things you can clean in the dishwasher, but there’s also an important list of what not to put in a dishwasher. With that in mind, here’s what you can put in the dishwasher – and what you can’t.

While it's tempting to assume that everything can go in the dishwasher, it isn't always the case. Check to see whether items have the dishwasher safe symbol and hand wash any utensils or crockery made from wood, china, crystal or cast iron.

Look for the dishwasher safe symbol

If you’re not sure what things you can clean in the dishwasher, check each item for the dishwasher safe symbol.

What is the symbol for dishwasher safe? While there’s no universal symbol, essentially any symbol that suggests water hitting containers or utensils indicates safe use in the dishwasher. The presence of this symbol means that items have been treated to ensure the high temperatures of the dishwasher don’t cause them any damage.

What can you put in the dishwasher? Here’s a list of kitchenware that is generally deemed dishwasher safe (although you should always check for the symbol and follow the manufacturer’s instructions).

  • Plates and bowls

  • Mugs, glasses and cups

  • Cutlery and utensils (apart from wooden spoons)

  • Pots and pans (with the exception of some stainless steel and non-stick pans)

  • Plastic chopping boards

  • Sieves, colanders and jugs

  • Fridge shelves and microwave trays

The Poll

What’s most important to you when it comes to cleaning?

0 Votes

While running full loads is important to save water, try not to overfill your dishwasher, as this could result in an inferior clean. You may even have to run the cycle again! Choose suitable dishwashing powder or tablets – we like the Sunlight Machine Dishwashing range – to get the job done fast.

Next up, when to actively avoid using the dishwasher!

What not to put in the dishwasher

Not everything is suitable for the dishwasher. If you’ve ever wondered, what is the symbol for dishwasher safe, look for it next time you load the dishwasher as you might be causing unintentional damage to your kitchenware. Here’s a list of things you should hand wash instead:

  • Wooden spoons, bowls and chopping boards – The heat strips out natural oils that keep wooden utensils from drying out and causes cracks.

  • Cast iron cookware – Cast iron will become unusable if the oil it requires to prevent rusting (and stop food from sticking) is stripped away in the dishwasher.  

  • Anything made from aluminium – Aluminium pots, pans and baking sheets will become dull and will darken in the dishwasher.

  • Anything made from copper – The chemicals from the detergent will dull the finish and cause the copper to pit.

  • Non-stick pans – High drying temperatures can take a toll on non-stick coatings. When non-stick surfaces are scratched, chipped or flaking, dangerous toxins can be released into food as it cooks.

  • Sharp items – Knives and graters can nick the plastic coating on your dishwasher racks, leading to rust and a less efficient dishwasher.  

  • Thin plastic containers – Plastic can melt and become misshapen in the dishwasher. Use the top rack only and skip the high heat drying cycle.

This is in addition to insulated glasses and thermal containers (the space between the outer and inner layer would fill with water), hand painted glassware, china, crystal and containers with paper labels.

Despite an extensive list of what can’t go in the dishwasher, this appliance is incredibly useful and saves you slaving away at the sink. Did you know you can use your dishwasher to clean some more unusual household items too? Zip-lock bags, pet bowls, soap dishes and toothbrush holders can all go in the dishwasher – as can plastic handled gardening tools, plastic baby toys and even fake plastic flowers!

Key steps

  • Always check each item for the dishwasher safe symbol

  • Alternatively, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions

  • Hand wash wood, aluminium, copper, non-stick pans and aluminium pots and baking sheets

Originally published