12 Items You Can Clean in the Dishwasher, From Dog Bowls to Plastic Toys

C.E. Larusso
Written by C.E. Larusso
Updated September 30, 2021
Dog eats from food bowl in kitchen
Grace Chon / Image Source via Getty Images

Make the dishwasher your one-stop shop for a grime-free household

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Despite its name, the dishwasher can wash a lot more than dishes. The cube under the sink can get the dirt and bacteria off a number of household items, everything from your muddy rain boots to your favorite hairbrush. While you shouldn’t use the dishwasher to clean certain items and anything made of copper, cast iron, or wood, there are many surprising items that can benefit from a spin in this impressive machine.

  • Tip: It's best to avoid adding items with small nooks and crannies to your regular load of dishes because they can catch bits of food. Instead, give them their own cycle!

1. Dog and Cat Bowls

Food remnants can encourage bacterial growth in our dog’s bowl just as they can on our own dishes. Go ahead and toss your pets’ bowls in the dishwasher to get them sparkling clean, though if you have a baby, we advise giving Fido’s items their own cycle since little ones don’t have established immune systems and can be more susceptible to a wider variety of germs.

2. Kitchen Accessories and Tools

Many items in your kitchen are meant to withstand higher temperatures, and the dishwasher is a great way to wash all of these commonly greasy items at once. Throw in any of the following the next time you do a load:

  • Sponges

  • Exhaust fan filters

  • Microwave turntables

  • Fridge shelves and crisper bins

  • Silicone oven mitts

3. Decorative Items

Several common decorative items are dishwasher-safe, including:

  • Vases

  • Glass covers from ceiling lamps

  • Cabinet pulls and handles

  • Plastic switch plates and outlet covers

  • Desk accessories

Before you throw every item in your home in the next cycle, though, check the materials. Anything made of painted metal, gilded, or coated in silver is a no-go.

4. Bathroom Accessories

If there’s a room that’s a contender for “most often in need of a deep clean,” it’s the bathroom. Luckily, many accessories and decorative items—such as rubber tub mats, soap dishes, toothbrush holders, and exhaust fan covers—can handle a regular cleaning in the dishwasher to keep them sparkly and bacteria-free. Showerheads can also go through, but make sure to use  the “pots and pans'' cycle.

5. Plastic Toys

Toddler playing with plastic toys
Krakenimages.com - stock.adobe.com

Toys can get gross, quick. Toss plastic ones in a mesh bag and set it on the top rack of the dishwasher for easy cleaning. Pacifiers and teething rings can also be washed in the same way.

6. Baseball Hats

If you’ve got a budding young Babe Ruth or Doris Sams in the house, chances are you’ve also got some pretty dirty laundry. Baseball hats—as well as shin guards, mouth guards, and golf balls—can be thrown in the dishwasher for deep cleaning. With caps, you’ll want to make sure the brim hasn’t been reinforced with cardboard, and it’s a good idea to buy a form that will help it keep its shape (you can also use a coffee can) as it goes through the cycle.

7. Outdoor Accessories

Terracotta pots can be washed on the main rack, and plastic ones can sit on the top shelf. Deep cleaning your planters will help prevent diseases from jumping from your hydrangea to your proteas. Rubber rain or gardening shoes and grill racks can also be cleaned in the dishwasher.

8. Tools

Any tool that has a metal or plastic handle can be run through the dishwasher, unless they are electrical or battery operated. Tools should get their own cycle, and should be towel-dried after the cycle to prevent rusting.

9. Hubcaps and Other Car Accessories

When cleaning hubcaps in the dishwasher, add a cup of white vinegar to the detergent you use to get them looking brand new. You can also clean rubber floor mats and cup holders.

10. Personal Care Items

Hairbrushes—as long as they don’t have wooden handles and aren’t made of natural bristles—can be washed in a mesh bag on the top rack; just be sure to remove any hair first. Toenail clippers and nail tools can be sanitized this way, as can the brushes from a Clarisonic or other electronic facial washing tools and contact lens cases.

11. Vacuum Cleaner Parts

Give your vacuum’s various nozzles, attachments, and filters their own spin through the dishwasher, and get rid of any funky build-up that developed after you cleaned up the morning after that cocktail party.

12. Throw Pillows

If you remove the covers, throw pillows can definitely get a good refresh in the dishwasher without the stuffing getting crumbled like it would in the washing machine. Use Borax instead of detergent, and place the pillows on the top rack for the cycle. We advise letting them air dry.

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