All Dishes Are Created (Un)equally: What Can & Can’t Go In The Dishwasher

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dishwasher

The benefits of having a dishwashing machine are pretty much endless. It’s a huge time saver because you spend less time slaving over the sink so you have (in theory, at least) more time to complete your never-ending to-do list. According to the Energy Star Qualified Dishwasher Partner Resource Guide, washing dishes in the dishwasher saves about 230 hours of time per year. Yes, dishwashers are gifts from above, especially for busy moms. Next time you find yourself pondering whether or not that steak knife should really run through the dishwasher, remember these dos and don'ts below.

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GO FOR IT

Stainless steel flatware: Eating utensils like knives, spoons, forks are safe for the dishwasher because stainless steel is durable, which means that they are able to take the pressure from the dishwasher. Sometimes dishwashers can be a little harsh, but not as harsh as putting elbow grease into your favorite flatware. Dishwasher is the better option for the flatware. Remember, if you choose to put the utensils in the dishwasher, make sure they are placed in the upper rack or cutlery basket.

silverware

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Kitchen shears: Kitchen shears, which are basically special scissors that are strictly used for the kitchen, are safe for the dishwasher. The non-traditional shaped scissors are used to cut soft veggies in a way that allows you to cut at an angle. They can also used to snip herbs as well. Even though it’s safe to put them in the dishwasher, they need to be separate from your other dishes and placed with the handle facing you, so you don’t get cut.

kitchen shears

Kitchen sponges: You all know that sponges just sit there on your counter collecting germs. And sometimes you dread washing them because they look so disgusting from the weeks of them being reused over and over again. The good news is that these dishwasher-safe sponges are tough in general, so placing them in the dishwasher wouldn’t hurt. The dishwasher kills the germs better than you'd be able to, since you can adjust the heat to the highest setting.

3 kitchen sponges
(Photo: Woman's Day)

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Plastic: There are some people who tell you not to put plastic in the dishwasher, but to be honest, it’s totally fine to do so. This could be a plastic bowl, cup, utensils, etc — just remember to set the dishwasher on a low heat setting.

plastic cups

Reusable water bottles: At least once in your life you’ve bought a reusable water bottle before. It’s great for the gym, school and work. It saves on money because you don’t have to buy a new bottle of water every day, and it's sturdy enough to reuse. Most are even sturdy enough to go through the dishwasher every day, although it might be safe to check the packaging before washing for the first time.

water bottle

HOLD UP — HAND WASH THAT!

Wooden cutting boards: This is a big no-no because dishwashers can get pretty hot, and cutting boards will morph and crack if they're exposed to a lot of heat. Another thing to look out for when it comes to your cutting board is bacteria. Just like cracks in walls are a playground for bacteria, cracks in cutting boards are also a breeding ground for bacteria buildup like mold. Just think about it: Old food particles are on the board, and if you put it through the dishwasher, it would crack, causing the food particles get stuck. This causes bacteria to feed off of the old food. Yuck! If that happens, throw the cutting board away. It is best to wash wooden cutting boards by hand and with a little elbow grease.

wooden cutting board

Copper pots and pans: It would be a huge mistake if you put copper pots and pans in the dishwasher because the metal will dent. The color of the copper is also on the line because sometimes harsh chemical are used when dishwashing. You don’t want your hard-earned money to literally go down the drain because of this.

copper pots and pans

Delicate china: These are your grandmother's plates, dishes, bowls and cups. They're extremely pretty to look and they usually have well-crafted designs that can be ruined in the dishwasher due to the high heat.

delicate china
(Photo: Louise Living)

Steak knives: The rough movement of dishwashers can turn your once-sharp steak knife into a dull one. Plus, the dishwasher detergent used to wash the knives can put scrape spots on your knives as well. It’s best to wash steak knives by hand with the blade facing away from you.

Photo Credit: Swiss Army
(Photo: Swiss Army)

>> Read more: Know Your Knives: Knife Guide for Your Kitchen

Disposable aluminum: The aluminum has a chance of getting dented because of the movement of the dishwasher, so it’s vulnerable to nicks and scratches that you won’t be able to fix. Plus, you risk getting black residue or marks all over the aluminum item and the other things in the dishwasher. If you have an aluminum pan at home, it’s best to wash it after using it or throw it away.

disposable

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