It may be called a dishwasher, but you can clean a whole lot more than just dishes in it! You can get all kinds of things safely cleaned and sanitized with the push of a button. Use your usual cycle for these items, unless otherwise noted.
Rubber Flip Flops, Crocs, & Rain Boots
Whether you've worn them to the beach or you just throw them on around the house, flip flops can get kind of icky. Rubber shoes like flip flops, Crocs, and even rain boots can skip the laundry and instead go safely into the dishwasher for a refresh. Remove any added decorations or bling first.
Put your flip flops on the top rack and rubber boots on the bottom facing down for maximum cleaning efficiency.
Hair Brushes, Combs, and Accessories
Plastic hair brushes, combs, and accessories can go in the dishwasher to get all the gunk and dried hairspray out. Make sure you remove loose hairs first, though. Put the cycle on low heat, as high heat can melt small items (which should go in a mesh bag) and the glue that is used to attach handles on brushes.
Toys of All Kinds
Whether it's pet toys that see a lot of slobber, or those toys your kids have dragged through the dirt and dust, any kind of plastic, non-battery-operated toy should be safe to load into the dishwasher for sanitizing. Just ensure that they aren't too small - toy cars can go in the utensil holders, but Legos would need to be in a nylon bag or similar.
Make sure you thoroughly dry your toys afterwards; leftover water might rust any metal parts.
Toiletry Bags or Cases
If you keep your beauty essentials in a toiletry bag or case, you've likely dealt with a toothpaste tube or makeup bottle exploding inside of it. Not to fear! Remove all the items and place your nylon or plastic toiletry case on the top shelf of the dishwasher. It will look like new in no time. (Note: Wash by hand if your case is leather, or has sequins or sparkles on it.)
Turn the bag inside out before washing if the stains are particularly heinous.
Don't forget to clean the items you use to clean with! While there are several ways to sterilize a kitchen sponge, we prefer popping a dirty sponge alongside the glasses in the top rack of our dishwasher right before we're about to run a load.
Personal Hygiene Items
Quick: when is the last time you cleaned your toothbrush, razor, or tweezers? If you can't remember and you don't use disposable sets, you should wash these in the silverware holder in your dishwasher, stat! Make sure to pat metal tweezers dry to prevent rusting.
Loofahs & Bath Poufs
Loofahs are strange objects. You use them to clean your body on a daily basis, but unlike a wash cloth, there's no obvious way to get them clean. Fortunately, a dishwasher is the perfect solution! Wash your loofah regularly in the top rack, and you'll get it clean better than if you put in with your laundry.
Hate grimy refrigerator drawers with their weird smells and caked-on crumbs? Us too. If your drawers can fit into the bottom rack of your dishwasher, load them in for a much faster deep cleaning than if you did it yourself by hand.
Bathroom Soap Dishes
Tough soap scum is no sweat for your dishwasher. To prevent suds from forming, scrape off any excess soap first.
If you're like us, you've no doubt dropped your keys on the floor more than a few times. Get these bad boys sanitized by utilizing any extra space in your silverware holder the next time you run a load of dishes. (Although you should probably pass on cleaning any keys that are chipped.)
Maybe not the most practical use of your dishwasher, but if you're making mashed potatoes or potato salad for a crowd and want to skip the washing step, you can throw them in the top rack of the dishwasher and run it through a normal cycle (without detergent). Sadly, you will still have to peel them by hand, as your dishwasher will not do that for you.
Not only can you wash a throw pillow in the dishwasher, but it won't get as twisted as it would washing it with your laundry. Make sure that the pillow fits in the top rack, remove any covers or pillowcases, and use Borax instead of dish or laundry soap in the dispenser. And, voilà! Good as new.
Small Trash, Recycle, & Compost Bins
A small-sized trash can often ends up with coffee grounds and other spillage at the bottom, and the dishwasher is the perfect way to make it look brand new again. Throw it on the bottom rack face-down to get it good and clean.
Since most of us have our phones in our hands for many hours in a day, your phone case is going to need regular cleaning. Luckily, you can put most types of basic silicon, rubber, or plastic phone cases in the top drawer of the dishwasher rack, and let the appliance do the heavy lifting.
Vacuum Cleaner Attachments
Set aside a designated time to wash all of your cleaning tools in the dishwasher. That means all of those little vacuum cleaner attachments (which get so gross), as well as dust pans, mop and broom heads, and small dust brushes. Put 1 cup of vinegar in a bowl on the top rack and let that be your cleaning product, instead of dishwasher detergent.
Fake Plants & Flowers
If you've got fake plants sitting around collecting dust, don't reach for the feather duster. As long as they're made of 100% plastic, you can wash them in the dishwasher (watch out for paper stems or attachments, though). Detach any removable parts and wash them in a mesh bag, replacing them after they're clean.
You probably don't want to handwash 30 old golf balls - and luckily, you don't have to. Run them through a cycle in your dishwasher. Tip: This works for tennis balls, too, though probably not ones that you intend to play tennis with.
Lunch Boxes & Bags
The dishwasher will be so much gentler on your lunch bags or small coolers than a washing machine. Put them on the top shelf with cold water and mild dishwasher detergent.
Yes, you can wash your flower pots in the dishwasher, too! I wouldn't recommend this for pots with paint that you don't want to risk chipping, but for plain ceramic pots or plastic ones, it can be a real time saver and make them look good as new. Rinse them out first to get rid of excess dirt.
Your Car's Rubber Floor Mats
No more hand-scrubbing the rubber mats from your car! That's the job for a dishwasher. Rinse or wipe them down first so as not to overload your dishwasher with dirt and debris, then lay them face down on the top rack and wash on cold.
Drawer organizerss are very useful, but they also collect crumbs and dirt over time. Washing them in the dishwasher will make your life so. much. easier. Don't wash wooden utensil organizers in the dishwasher, but plastic is fair game (on the top shelf).
Glass Light Fixtures
Another genius use of a dishwasher. Instead of handwashing your glass light covers, remove them and wash them in the dishwasher like you would any glass dish. Avoid this technique for fragile, detailed or antique glass light fixtures, though.
Tips for Cleaning Unconventional Items in the Dishwasher
Your dishwasher is a powerful appliance, but there are a few tips to note before you load it up with everything in your house that needs to be cleaned:
- Don't put wood, paper, or electronic items in the dishwasher
- Wash small items in utensil holders or mesh bags on the top rack
- Scrape clumps of dirt or debris off any item before washing it to avoid clogging the dishwasher
- Avoid things with sequins, glitter, or unsealed finishes
- Place dirtier items in the bottom rack face down so they get a nice power washing directly from the jets
- Don't forget to regularly clean your dishwasher to keep it running smoothly
A Whole New Dishwashing World
You're going to save so much time now that you know what your dishwasher can accomplish. Go forth and let your dishwasher prosper!