For most of us, a dishwasher is a magical machine that transforms sauce-crusted plates into clean ones. But if you only use it for tableware, you're wasting this fantastic device. After all, a surprisingly wide range of items can safely sit through a cycle.
Unlike a washing machine for laundry, a dishwasher keeps its dirty contents stationary as it blasts them with hot water (followed by soap, then by more water) before drying them with hot air. So items that might bounce around a laundry machine, causing damage to the apparatus or to themselves, will lounge comfortably through a dishwasher session.
That said, these items will also have to endure high temperatures and lots of water, so use this washing method at your products' own risk. When in doubt, check the product description online: Many dishwasher-safe items are labeled as dishwasher-safe. For added safekeeping, keep plastic or flimsy items on the top rack of the machine.
Another danger to avoid is cross-contamination. You'll want to wash your dishes separately from items, such as dog toys and gardening tools, that may be carrying potentially harmful germs.
To help you choose which belongings can ride through the dishwasher, we scrubbed up a list of hard-to-handwash items. And we even picked out products that we love in each category.
If you let your pets take their toys outside, make sure you clean them.
We love our pets. And our pets love putting dirt, dead animals, and poop into their mouths. Then they gnaw on their chew toys. In addition to smelly animal saliva, pet toys that Fido carries outside can pick up dirt and bacteria and Dog knows what else. Which isn't a problem...until he brings that toy back into your nice clean house.
Not all toys can survive a trip through the dishwasher. But the West Paw Tough Dog Bone Chew Toy is durable, recyclable—and dishwasher safe. So if you find it in the backyard, covered in mysterious brown scum, toss that sucker in the dishwasher before you let it back indoors.
Don't brush off keeping your brush clean.
When's the last time you cleaned your hairbrush? Even if you're diligent about clearing out your shed locks, over time, you'll notice a greasy buildup on and around the bristles as they pick up your hair's natural oil. To get rid of this grime, you could spend some quality time scrubbing away with Q-tips. Or you could simply place the brush in the dishwasher and watch it emerge squeaky-clean.
This trick will only work with plastic hairbrushes. So if your brush includes wood or natural bristles, keep it dry. Plastic brushes are designed to survive a soaking, so feel free to run it through the washer—just make sure to remove all your shed hair from it first.
Electric razor attachments
Get rid of all the oils on these beard brushes.
Like hairbrushes, beard trimmers can pick up oils from even the most meticulously groomed hair. Luckily, you can also clean these the same way you tackled that hairbrush. Just remove the trimmer and comb attachments and run them through the dishwasher. The electric part of the razor, however, should stay dry.
(Oh, and if you're looking for some new beard gear, we recommend the Remington Beard Boss Style and Detail Kit. Use it to style your beard, then clean it easily.
Plastic toys can go in the dishwasher.
Ah, kids. They're cute, curious, and when it comes to childhood illnesses, very, very contagious. It just takes one playdate for a runny-nosed neighbor to contaminate your child's toys, and from there, your whole household is at risk. So clean up those toys—at least, when the toys are Legos. These plastic bricks will easily survive a trip through the dishwasher, and it's much easier than disinfecting them one by one. Before their session, make sure they'll stay put by placing them in a mesh bag or other container that fits on the top rack.
Kids are cute, but floors are dirty.
Not only can your children pick up germs from their playmates, they can also ingest them from the floor. Science tells us that the five-second rule isn't real, which means that once that teether hits the floor, it shouldn't go straight back into a tot's mouth. Sturdy plastic toys, especially those with lots of nubs and whorls that make thorough hand-washing difficult, need a trip to the dishwasher.
Don't immediately toss a teether in the wash—check the label first. You'll want to reserve the dishwasher treatment for products like this Mombella Ollie Octopus Teether, which are labeled dishwasher safe.
Get rid of the black smudges on your keyboard keys.
From its station on your desk, your keyboard is in prime position to pick up crumbs, spilled drinks, dust, and other debris. For general wear and tear, you should clean your keyboard by hand. But then there's the spilled soda that makes the Shift key stick, or the persistent stains that your Q-tip just can't reach. For the last keyboard resort, the internet suggests that you sacrifice that baby to the dishwasher and see if it lives. Manufacturers, on the other hand, suggest that you never, ever do that.
That's where waterproof keyboards like the Seal Shield Silver Washable Keyboard comes in. That's right, this is a dishwasher-safe keyboard. Spill as much soda on it as you like, then unplug it and put it in the top rack of the dishwasher.
Small trash cans
Just because you empty it, doesn't make it clean.
A trash can with a lid contains not just your garbage, but also the stench it produces. That is, until a leaky trash bag spills mystery juice over the can's floor, and a slippery takeout container accidentally dumps rancid Chinese food on the lid, and the container becomes sticky and smelly in its own right. Full-size trash cans may require a session with a hose in the backyard, but countertop-scale models can simply take a spin through the dishwasher.
This cleaning method will work best on plastic trash cans, or at least the plastic inner liner of a metal container.
Don't hoe back when cleaning. Put your gardening tools in the dishwasher.
With spring well on its way, gardeners may already be breaking out their trowels. But once your tools are coated with loam, the problem is getting them clean again. As you've already guessed, that problem has an easy, dishwashery solution. Anything with a wooden handle should avoid a prolonged soaking, but garden tools with metal or plastic handles are good to go right into the dishwasher.
If you'd like to stock up on dishwasher-safe garden tools, we recommend GardenHOME Ergonomic Garden Tools. They're easy to clean, and the handles are ergonomically designed to give you a better grip.