Best unexpected uses for dishwasher?
January 16, 2011 2:52 PM   Subscribe

What are the coolest, most useful, unusual, and unexpected things I can safely wash in a dishwasher?

I LOVE dishwashers. After living in residences with dishwashers and without, I've decided I'd rather live having to go blocks to shower or wash my clothes (which has happened!) than regularly wash dishes by hand again. Many times, I've considered buying some kitchen gadget or dish only to move on after seeing it marked "Hand Wash Only."

Because of this, and because I dislike housework in general, I'd like to maximize my dishwasher cleaning potential! What are your favorite unusual uses for a dishwasher and objects that are unexpectedly dishwasher-safe? This can include both things that are not typically or that you really wouldn't expect to be dishwasher-safe, like a keyboard or cat*, as well as things you simply might not think about, like fine china and gardening tools.

- "Surprising Uses for Your Dishwasher"
- Superglue: I've had a chipped dish repaired with this hold up 2-3 years so far.
- Small plastic trash cans
- Toothbrushes and plastic cleaning brushes: yes, apparently obvious, but I've suggested it at least once and gotten the look that I'm a crazy person.

*please do not dishwasher-clean your cat, even on the top rack
posted by nicebookrack to Home & Garden (39 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
you can wash a keyboard you know
posted by caddis at 2:54 PM on January 16, 2011

Probably you already know about this, but putting sponges and/or dish scrubbers in the dishwasher supposedly sanitizes them.
posted by routergirl at 2:54 PM on January 16, 2011

Best answer: Dildos.
posted by edbles at 2:57 PM on January 16, 2011 [5 favorites]

Best answer: We got a bunch of Lego Duplo blocks from friends with a shedding dog, but my son and I are horribly allergic. So we threw the whole lot into the top rack of the dishwasher. In fact, I have put many kids' toys and pacifiers in the top rack. This was useful when we were in the teething phase.
posted by iscatter at 2:58 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Things I have washed:

rubber slippers
combs & brushes
plastic jewelery

Basically, anything that can be washed in hot water, but no cloth like things.

My husband just tried a keyboard, it got really clean but no longer worked.
posted by fifilaru at 3:02 PM on January 16, 2011

Best answer: Salmon.
posted by toxic at 3:04 PM on January 16, 2011 [6 favorites]

Best answer: crocs
posted by uauage at 3:05 PM on January 16, 2011

Best answer: Computer keyboard. Very very carefully and as a last resort...
posted by RichardP at 3:09 PM on January 16, 2011

Some people use dishwashers to strip soap residue from cloth diapers.
posted by christinetheslp at 3:09 PM on January 16, 2011

Best answer: If you're going to put a lot of small things in there, like Legos, think about those mesh bags that people use for laundry. You can fill those up and lay them on the top rack and keep all the little bits together.
posted by CathyG at 3:11 PM on January 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'm a fellow dishwasher fanatic. I put just about everything in there except my cooking knives and wooden spoons/cutting boards.

This is still kitchen so might be too obvious but these silicone kitchen string thingies called "The Food Loop" (comes in various sizes; I just linked to one of them) are so wonderful and so wonderfully dishwasher safe. I love being able to reuse a kitchen-string-like item.

Also I have to tell you that in a food sanitation class I took in culinary school, we were told not to put sponges in the dishwasher because they can hold bacteria that then gets all over your dishes; the water in most home dishwashers isn't hot enough to sanitize them completely. As an alternative, they recommended throwing dish sponges in with your laundry to get them completely clean. This does seem to be a point of controversy, however.
posted by hansbrough at 3:16 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have successfully washed several keyboards (not wireless), just make sure they are dry before plugging them back in.

I have used a dishwasher to clean cosmoline (horrible nasty stuff) off of gun parts. The mesh bags are highly recommended for the small metal parts, but they get the cosmoline out of the gun stocks better and faster than anything else I have tried. YOu do need to use lots of soap.

I have clean lots and lots of car parts in dishwashers also. Gets the gas varnish and oil sludge out really well.

If you do the either of the above (or anything else that is kinda toxic) please run your dishwasher empty a couple of times before you put dishes back in.

I have also used the washing machine to wash, clean and polish empty brass shell casing using the above mentioned shell bags.

In other unorthodox cleaning air driven polishing wheels will clean up soap scum of enamel coated tubs and ceramic tiles really, really good and fast.

(my dad was a mechanic and hated cleaning house so we did as quickly and with the most use of compressed air as possible)
posted by bartonlong at 3:18 PM on January 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Baseball caps!
posted by chiababe at 3:20 PM on January 16, 2011

posted by Confess, Fletch at 3:21 PM on January 16, 2011

I have learned one thing you can't wash. You can't clean quartz crystals in a dishwasher, unless you want a rainbow oxidized layer on it. Which you might.
posted by Gneisskate at 3:22 PM on January 16, 2011 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Glasses and contact lens cases.
posted by galadriel at 3:23 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Cleaning potatoes.
posted by ajackson at 3:30 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Bottles for homebrew.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:02 PM on January 16, 2011

Best answer: The dishwasher door can serve handsomely as a toddler-sized prep table or "cooking" workspace.
posted by AngerBoy at 4:07 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I bought the humidifier I did because its cleanable parts were dishwasher safe.
posted by bink at 4:18 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh! And when you spray a pan with Pam, put it on the opened dishwasher door first. Any overspray will be washed away when you run the next load.
posted by bink at 4:18 PM on January 16, 2011 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Pop your rinsed out sponges in the microwave on high for 2 minutes to sanitize them. Use rubber bands to stretch across flimsy items to keep them from flipping over and being a water catcher in dishwasher.
posted by sandyp at 4:32 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I wash my son's fencing mask in the dishwasher.
posted by COD at 4:52 PM on January 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: These are great, y'all, keep 'em coming!

Another link, 25 Unusual Things You Can Put in The Dishwasher: in addition to those already mentioned here:

- Cup holders
- Window screens
- Light fixture covers
- Switch plates
- Stove knobs & ceramic cabinet knobs
- Refrigerator shelves
- Soap dishes and toothbrush holders
- Faux flowers
- Plastic broom heads and dustpans
- Pen holders, sticky note trays and other plastic desk accessories
- Pet bowls and plastic toys
- Makeup brushes (I assume synthetic brushes only)
- Garden tools and household tools with plastic handles
- Shin-guards, knee-pads and mouth-guards
- A warming oven for food (heat / dry cycle, NO water)
- Vacuum cleaner attachments
- Golf & bowling balls
- Outdoor gas grill parts
posted by nicebookrack at 5:26 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I came home the other day to find that one of my Mom's caregivers had put the metal mesh screens from the stove hood in the dishwasher. They were sparkling clean--it had not occured to me to clean them ever, so I'm sure they were filthy. It actually took me a few moments to even figure out what they were!
posted by agatha_magatha at 5:29 PM on January 16, 2011

Ashtrays, burner pans, vent grills, bbq grills (if you can fit them in there), the glass insert for your microwave,
posted by Lynsey at 5:46 PM on January 16, 2011

I wash the glass parts of my light fixtures. You know those tulip-shaped glass covers that go over ceiling fan bulbs? Wash those babies in the dishwasher. Much easier than dusting them.
posted by Ostara at 6:44 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've always heard that when washing keyboards or other electronics, you shouldn't use dishwasher soap (and if you're being all professional about it you should run the dishwasher on deïonized water). On the other hand, though, I have the impression that modern dishwasher soaps are less abrasive and caustic than they were a few decades ago, so ymmv.
posted by hattifattener at 7:30 PM on January 16, 2011

Brass instrument mouthpieces.
posted by the_blizz at 7:36 PM on January 16, 2011

I stick my wrist guards and knee and elbow pads from roller derby in the dishwasher. It works great! They get washed at a high temperature which kills all the funk, and the velcro doesn't get tangled up like in the washing machine.
posted by bubonicpeg at 8:08 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

The air filter from your Formula One sidecar racing rig.

The air filter on your vacuum cleaner (assuming you have a bagless vacuum with an air filter).
posted by coolguymichael at 8:31 PM on January 16, 2011

Furnace filters.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:04 PM on January 16, 2011

My dad used to wash carrots from the garden in the (laundry) washing machine, and I see someone above linked to potatoes in the dishwasher.

My mom used to use the drying cycle of the dishwasher to raise bread dough. This was on a machine which had an analog dial that you could turn past the wash/rinse cycles and go directly to the steamy drying cycle.
posted by CathyG at 9:21 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by shinyshiny at 11:20 PM on January 16, 2011

I have washed the following:
Scuba diving mask
Wrist watch (YMMV)
Tent pegs
The components of my multi-fuel camping stove
posted by jonesor at 2:21 AM on January 17, 2011

BBQ grill
posted by like_neon at 3:16 AM on January 17, 2011

Electronic drum mesh heads.
posted by monospace at 2:03 PM on January 17, 2011

A friend tells me his grandmother wraps up a whole salmon in tinfoil and puts it through a cycle and it steams perfectly.
posted by ozgirlabroad at 3:08 PM on January 17, 2011

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