Works For Me: What I Put In My Dishwasher

In my house, it’s not just a dishwasher.  It’s a high-tech disinfecting MACHINE.  And I know, that’s probably not exactly what the manufacturer had in mind, but I happen to live in a large family where a good deal of disinfecting is required.  That water gets all steamy hot in there, and I just can’t resist using it for non-dish things.  Here is some of what I regularly wash in there:

Toothbrushes (especially after a virus)
Kitchen scrub brush and sponges
Soccer shin guards
Baseball caps
Hair bows
Hair brushes (after pulling off all the gunky stuff)
Swim goggles
Any number of plastic toys (especially bath toys)
Soap dispenser
Reusable cleaning spray bottles
Paintbrushes (after the paint is washed off)  (Bad idea, my art-teacher friend E has written to tell me–oh well, live and learn)
Earrings (those that aren’t too delicate to handle the heat)
Hammers and screwdrivers (those things just start looking nasty after a while)
A whole bunch of other things I can’t remember right now.

In case you’re wonder, I don’t wash the gross stuff with our dishes, so I don’t have to worry about finding hairbrush residue or smelly soccer sweat in my clean dishes (Yum!  Want to come over for dinner?)  Additionally, I frequently run it empty with a cup of bleach poured in the bottom, to kill whatever germs the super-hot water might have missed.

Do you have any creative uses for your dishwasher?  I’d love to hear your ideas.

(This probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway–proceed carefully.  Everyone’s particular dishwasher is different, as are the items you might want to wash in there.  Don’t ruin stuff!)

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ArrowPlease remember that next Wednesday, November 5th, is a themed edition of WFMW.  It’s the Toys Worth Buying Edition, in which we’ll all share favorite and tested toys that you’d recommend to your friends.  Please share your favorite toy suggestions, and save us all from buying gifts that are going to be relegated to the garage or attic after two weeks!

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123 thoughts on “Works For Me: What I Put In My Dishwasher

  1. Linda says:

    I’ve used of those ideas, but I don’t think I would have ever thought of putting tools in the dishwasher! I’ll see what my husband thinks of that one. Thanks for the ideas. I’ll definitely try a couple.

  2. Jenna says:

    I thought I was the only one that used my “dish” washer to wash just about everything else I could think of! But, your tip gave me some extra inspiration for a few other items that need a quick spin in my dishwasher!

  3. Smockity Frocks says:

    Thank you, Shannon. I used to pour in some vinegar before starting it because I had heard that was a good rinse agent. Then, my dishwasher repair guy told me I was just pouring it down the drain. He said vinegar is an excellent rinse agent, but to put a full cup in the bottom so it would overflow during the cycle. Apparently before pressing the start button, everything just drains right out.

  4. Luanne says:

    I already have been told that I’m one of those people that needs therpy because I hand wash my dishes before I put them in the diswasher. I thought that when I got a new fandangled one, it would do the job, but it is the same as all the rest….good for disinfecting…not washing. Obviously I’m lucky if I get my dishes in there.

  5. Jen says:

    Just thought you’d laugh to know:mMy BFF every chapter (#21) and I spent our evening of no-kid girl talk hitting the refresh button over and over again so we could post this. And our husbands think we’re crazy. But we’re crazy together! And we LOVE wfmw. We’re addicted. Hmm, maybe that’s sad.

  6. Heather says:

    be honest… you have at least thought of putting a sticky kid in there more than once.
    My neighbors have a creative use for a dishwasher… lawn ornament. It makes for a very chic statement, what with the Lazy-Boy on the porch and all. (the first two months I lived here I just thought they had garage sales really often) Gotta love Kansas…

  7. Moriah @ Please Pass the Salt says:

    Yep! I use ours for toothbrushes and the sink scrub brushes and all that. The high-chair tray, stuff like that. I just usually throw out the bath toys when they get black inside (ew).
    Oh – hairbows, I wash those in my lingerie bag in with my clothes. That’s what the Hairbow Man at the mall said to do (but NOT put them in the dryer).

  8. Terry says:

    Here is one you may like.
    I wash my keyboard every so often.
    I put it keys down on the top rack and let it have a go.
    When it is done I THOROUGHLY let it try before plugging it into the computer.
    nothing like a freshly washed keyboard.
    Word of warning, you don’t let it dry, you’ll kill your keyboard.

  9. laane says:

    Two things
    In the rules: the data are not right anymore.
    I don’t understand how some items survive the dishwasher.
    Caps, paintbrushes contain glue that dissolves when a certain temperature is reached.
    And the plastic of the swimgoggles hardens.
    Or not?
    In that case: what kind of dishwasher is it?
    Have a nice day!

  10. Donielle @ Naturally Knocked Up says:

    Mine even has a sanitize setting – I love that!! I’ve used them for ball caps many a times, and I think I might actually use them fro cloth diapers. (Already washed of course!!!) Just sometimes they need to get extra hot to kill rash causing bacteria and the clothes washer just doesn’t get hot enough. Sure I could use bleach – but I don’t buy it w/ a septic system and all. 🙂

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Potatoes. If you need to wash a bunch of potatoes for, like, a baked potato party, send ’em through with no soap.
    This art teacher I know 🙂 tells me that paintbrushes should not be washed in hot water. But she’s kind of picky, ha.

  12. kburklin says:

    My favorite thing to put in is candle holders and they come out all sparkly. I try to get as much wax off as possible, but I don’t know what it is doing to the machine…

  13. Carey says:

    I do many of the same! I also put my small bathroom trash cans and my kitchen trash can lid – all plastic – in the dishwasher. If it gets dirty and I can fit it in the dishwasher… it goes in there!

  14. Miche says:

    Oh man, I thought this week was the themed wfmw when I wrote my post last night-I guess I will just put it up again next week? hmmm. Maybe I’ll just republish an old one for this week. Sorry I got it mixed up!

  15. Miche says:

    I just decided to do a “part two” to my list next week for the theme since there are some great toys I didn’t get in this list.
    And I love the idea of sanitizing tooth brushes after colds!

  16. Dawn says:

    I don’t have the luxury of owning one right this moment..but I may take this as right of aide..I never thought that it would wash just as well or better then anything else..hunh?

  17. Kara says:

    My mom always washed our ballcaps in the dishwasher when I was growing up. I think they even make molds that are made for that, so that the hats keep their shape. I will have to try some of these other things next time they need cleaning.

  18. Heather says:

    Can’t believe no one has said this yet, but I have used the dw to wash the potty training seat (the one that goes on the floor) and the potty ring that goes on the toilet itself. Obviously not with any dishes in there……but it really works!

  19. momstheword says:

    I know of someone who used it to defrost her meat. And someone else used it to wash her lettuce. Obviously, no soap and I would imagine they didn’t use the heat cycle on the lettuce. Personally, I wouldn’t do either of those (I have a microwave and a salad spinner) but I thought it was funny. BTW, you can spin your lettuce in the dryer if you don’t have a salad spinner, or just let it drain.

  20. 5tidbits says:

    We wash things by hand at out house. The dishwasher that we have is rarely used. I am surprised to see that you use it for so many things. Never thought of it that way.

  21. Heather says:

    I pretty much stick to dishes including the pets’ dishes. Although now that I think about it, we’ve run the little cup holders and removable holders in the vehicles. They come out looking so good.
    Thanks for hosting.

  22. Molly says:

    WOW! I’m stoked about this. I wonder if my new dishwasher has a sanitize setting? I’m going to have to look later today. Even if it doesn’t this just makes SENSE to wash non-dish items in there. And then the tip about bleach in the bottom every so often, that’s perfect. I’m going to do it later today.

  23. angela =^) says:

    Soccer Shin Guards? Brilliant!!! I never thought of that! The boys’ shin guards smell so incredibly nasty that I dry heave in the car on the way home when they’re taking them off. I wonder if this works for goalie gloves, too?

  24. Anna says:

    Great ideas for your Dishwasher. I’m concerned too about the glue and plastic melting. Do you place some (or all) things on top rack to minimize the chances of damage?

  25. MrsCoach says:

    I put my light fixtures in the dishwasher to get them extra sparkly. Also the toothbrush holders, soap dispensers and Crocs. If you buy Crocs that are a little big or yours have stretched out the dishwasher will shrink them a little bit but they do go restretch.

  26. Amber (BGH) says:

    I put a lot of stuff in our dishwasher, too, but I haven’t tried some of those. 🙂
    Like you, I don’t wash the gross stuff with the dishes. I’ve washed:
    The bathroom soap dish & toothbrush holder
    Sponges & scrub brushes
    Hairbows, Clips, Brushes, Combs & Toothbrushes
    Plastic toys, bath toys
    The potty training chair (which comes apart in pieces)
    Pacifiers, Teething rings, etc.
    Plastic storage containers & baskets

  27. Amber (BGH) says:

    By the way, for all the people talking about smelly sports equipment, you should really try some Odoban if you haven’t already – for in between washings. It comes in a spray bottle from Wal-Mart or in an undiluted jug at Costco or Sams. It really works and it smells like Eucalyptus. If it can remove kid pee smell out of sheets and mattresses and cat pee smell off of,… whatever… I’m sure it will work on stinky sports stuff. The spray bottle you can just spray right inside of stinky sneakers, etc, and the smell is gone.

  28. Carrie says:

    I do this too! When the kids were smaller and had those potty training seats that would fit on the regular toilet seat, we would put them in the dishwasher (without dishes of course) to get them nice and clean.
    I still put scrub brushes in there all the time!

  29. Crayl says:

    Doesn’t the dishwasher get a kind of rubber or plastic smell from some of those items. I know someone who cleaned there clogs, or Crocks in it. ick. But it does dissinfect, so that’s good!

  30. mzzterry says:

    I am guessing you guys dont dry your crocs? Crocs will actually shrink f they get too hot! We live in Texas and my daughter left hers in the car in the summer & they actually shrunk! The Croc Folks said that happens because of the material they are made of. Be careful!!

  31. Fiddledeedee says:

    When I was single, and lived in apartments suited for sardines, I used my dishwasher for storage.
    Now? If it’s not nailed down, it goes in the dishwasher. I’ve even put the kitchen trash lid in (alone) and gotten it clean, whereas it had never been that clean before.
    I’ve got to try that bleach trick.

  32. Stephanie says:

    I put toothbrushes, sponges, scrubbers, etc in the dishwasher. Does the glue on hairbows come out? I have a cousin that puts silk plants in the dishwasher to remove the dust! Thanks for a great list!
    Stephanie

  33. k&c's mom says:

    OK: this is actually a “do not wash” story: a lady who put her very expensive and very collectable Radco Christmas ornaments in the dishwasher. (They were dusty from a year in the attic.) You guessed it: paint totally stripped off. No longer collectable, I guess.

  34. Brandy says:

    Some hammers rust.
    Be careful about bleach–it can wreck the seal in your dishwasher. I stopped using liquid detergent because of this.
    I’ve been meaning to read your blog because I saw the name on someone else’s blog and I LOVED it! I found it again today on someone else’s blog, and I headed right over. I was really excited when she started mentioning that you talk about frugality. That was the kicker for me.

  35. Betsy says:

    Oops! I accidentally posted twice — first, just to my home page, then to my WFMW post. Sorry! First-timer.
    As for the dishwasher, I’m a HUGE fan of diswashing all of my sponges and scrubbers (although I can’t — quite — bring myself to put the toilet brushes in).
    I was also told it’s the only way to properly wash a baseball cap, too … but I think it shrinks them.

  36. Melanie says:

    Shhhh…. I washed my daughter’s tennis shoes in there the other day! They had gotten moldy after a birthday party and even though I soaked them in bleach water and scrubbed them, the stuff along the edges wasn’t coming off, so I tried the dishwasher. Didn’t really work, but I figure it helped disinfect even more! :-O

  37. Lina says:

    Makes me wish to buy a dishwasher or disinfecting machine – especially for various instruments like screwdrivers:))
    There are things like plush toys and slippers that I wash in the washing machine (but I suppose that dishwasher would work better for them)…

  38. missy @ it's almost naptime says:

    My motto is, if it cannot be washed in the dishwasher or washing machine, it has no business being in my house.
    I think you covered just about every thing. Many of those I put in the washer, like bows, baseball caps and every kind of children’s shoes – including sandals. See above motto. I have even put my carmats in the washer.
    Other dishwasher items:
    -Pacifiers. Which you no longer need to wash.
    -The knobs to my stove.
    -all manner of toys
    -lightswitch plates
    -my TMJ nightguard
    -medicine droppers
    But the computer keyboard? That’s nuts.

  39. randel says:

    ok, so i’m excited to hear about the hairbow option.
    do you put soap in for that one? if so, normal dishwasher powder? i have a few white bows and other bows that need a good washing…

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