7 things you never knew you could clean in the dishwasher

things you can clean in the dishwasher
7 unusual things you can clean in the dishwasherGeanna8 - Getty Images

Where would we be without dishwashers? We rely on them day-in, day-out to clean up after meals in a jiffy. Whether you’re dealing with a stack of plates, baked-on food residue on pots and pans, or fragile glassware, your dishwasher takes it all in its stride.

However, these appliances are more versatile than you’d think and the chances are there's a whole range of things they can tackle that you haven't even thought about. Your dishwasher can be used to clean all sorts of items around the home, so there's no need to use it solely for cleaning dishes.

We’ve rounded up seven items you can clean in your dishwasher so you can take full advantage of its cleaning potential.

1. Cleaning tools

When we say cleaning tools, we’re referring to scrubbers, brushes and even sponges. It's likely that most of these can be washed on the upper rack or in the cutlery basket of your dishwasher. As always, if in doubt, check the manufacturer's instructions first, but Scrub Daddy Colours sponges are dishwasher safe, as is the Joseph Joseph Edge Green Washing Up Brush.

If an item isn't explicitly described as being dishwasher safe, you're best off not risking it. That said, generally speaking, anything with plastic handles and bristles should be fine but you should avoid high-temperature washes and heated drying cycles to prevent damage.

Likewise, silicone (for example, these silicone sponges) is usually dishwasher-safe. Dishwasher-safe sponges can generally be washed on the highest temperature to disinfect them and you can use a mesh bag, such as TecUnite Mesh Bags, if you're washing several sponges to keep them together. If you're washing dishwasher-safe cleaning items on a lower temperature cycle, you can use a disinfectant such as Milton Sterilising Fluid separately, following the instructions on the packaging.

Avoid putting wooden items, or things with wooden parts through the dishwasher; the wood can swell and crack from the moisture.

things you can clean in the dishwasher
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2. Microwave turntable

We don't give a second thought to putting everyday glassware through the dishwasher, so why should the microwave turntable be any different? Simply place it between the tines in the lower rack for a thorough clean.

The roller ring underneath the turntable may also be suitable for the dishwasher, although you should always check the microwave's user manual first to confirm.

3. Oven shelves

Hate cleaning the oven? Join the club! Use your dishwasher's cleaning power to make lighter work of this unpopular task. You can often clean oven shelves in the lower rack of your dishwasher to remove grease and food residue, although you should always check the manual first to confirm.

If the shelves are dishwasher-safe, load them towards the side of the dishwasher so there's space for other items in the centre. Make sure the tops of the racks don’t interfere with the spray arm by giving it a spin before running the cycle. If you need more room, you can always raise the upper basket. If the side racks that support the shelves are removable, these might be dishwasher-safe, too; again, check first.

If your oven shelves aren’t dishwasher safe, simply fill a suitable container, such as your bathtub, with warm water and add 250g of soda crystals. Submerge the shelves and leave to soak for an hour before scrubbing clean.

things you can clean in the dishwasher
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4. Metal cooker hood filters

Cooker hood filters quickly get coated in greasy residue with everyday use, but can be a pain to get really clean. Luckily, those made of metal tend to be dishwasher safe (the user manual will confirm this one way or the other) and can be washed in the upper rack. If it's been a while since you last washed them, make sure nothing else is washed in the dishwasher at the same time; if they're really greasy, the residue can spread to other items.

If your metal filter isn’t dishwasher safe, washing regularly in a solution of warm soapy water, before rinsing and drying, will also do the trick.

5. Plastic toys

As some plastics are dishwasher safe, some children’s toys can also be washed in the dishwasher. Anything made from hard plastic or rubber, such as building blocks and bath toys, should be safe to wash in this appliance but check the toy manufacturer's cleaning guidance first. As an example, the Ubbi Starfish Stretch and Suction Bath Toys are dishwasher safe. Don't risk washing toys that aren't explicitly described as being dishwasher safe in your dishwasher.

Keep the temperature low when washing dishwasher safe toys and stick to the upper basket to avoid damage. Remember this only applies to toys which are 100% plastic; any batteries or internal electronics are definitely a no-go for the dishwasher.

If you need to keep smaller items together, such as building blocks, these can always be placed in a mesh bag to stop them from falling through or being blasted about via the jets of water.

things you can clean in the dishwasher
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6. Enamelled cast iron

Traditional cast iron, which is exposed and requires seasoning, is definitely something to keep out of the dishwasher. The abrasiveness of the detergent can strip away the seasoning and leave the cast iron vulnerable to rust. Enamelled cast iron, however, has a layer of enamel protecting the surface, which generally makes it dishwasher safe. Examples of brands which offer enamelled cast iron include Le Creuset and Staub.

However, while these products usually specify that they are safe for the dishwasher, the dishwasher can wear away at the surface of the enamel over time.

We recommend washing by hand using soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge where possible instead and saving a trip through the dishwasher for those times when you can't really shift baked-on food residue.

7. Sandwich toaster plates

Nothing says comfort food like a hot toastie, but the greasy mess left behind in the sandwich toaster is less than pleasurable to clean; getting in between the grill lines and into the crevices by hand makes this a tricky chore. Thankfully, some sandwich toasters feature removable plates which can go straight into the dishwasher. Wait until the plates have cooled completely after use before attempting to remove them.

Stick to the top rack for the best cleaning performance unless the sandwich toaster instructions say otherwise.

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