21 Things You Should Never Put in the Dishwasher

by | Last updated Oct 21, 2023

Your dishwasher, often considered a kitchen savior, is designed to handle many dishes, pots, and pans, ensuring they emerge spotless after every cycle. Yet, not everything is meant for this cleaning powerhouse. Believe it or not, a long list of items should never be exposed to the rigorous environment inside your dishwasher due to their composition or the sensitive materials they’re crafted from. This is about more than just preserving those individual items too. Using your dishwasher correctly can lead to wear, tear, and even long-term dishwasher damage, which is the last thing any homeowner would want.

To enlighten homeowners and kitchen enthusiasts, we present 21 Things You Should Never Put in the Dishwasher. Diving into this guide will not only help you maintain the pristine condition of specific kitchenware but also ensure your dishwasher operates efficiently for years to come. Ready to uncover these common kitchen pitfalls? Let’s dive into our comprehensive list!

A Costly Mistake to Avoid

Misusing your dishwasher can lead to repair costs. Studies indicate that 30% of dishwasher repairs result from damage due to improper loading!

Wooden Utensils and Cutting Boards

Wooden utensils and cutting boards have a natural appeal and are excellent tools in the kitchen. However, the intense heat and water inside a dishwasher can cause these items to warp, crack, or even split. Instead, hand wash them with mild soap and water. Remember to dry them thoroughly after washing to prevent moisture build-up that could cause mold or mildew.

Plastic Items Not Labeled “Dishwasher Safe”

While some plastic items are dishwasher-safe, others may warp or melt due to the high temperature in the dishwasher. Moreover, harmful chemicals could leach out from certain types of plastic when heated. Look for a “dishwasher safe” label or symbol on plastic items. If in doubt, it’s safer to hand wash.

Fine Crystal and Certain Glassware

Crystal glassware is often too delicate for the dishwasher. The high heat and intense water pressure could lead to cracks, chips, or complete breakage. Furthermore, harsh detergents can dull the shine of your beautiful crystal. Always hand wash these delicate items.

Silver or Gold-Plated Tableware

Silver or gold-plated items can tarnish or discolor when exposed to heat and detergents in a dishwasher. Additionally, suppose these pieces come into contact with stainless steel in a hot, wet environment. In that case, it can lead to a reaction that causes the silver to pit. To maintain the shine and longevity of these pieces, always hand wash and dry them immediately.

Cast Iron Cookware

Cast iron pans are known for their excellent heat retention but are not dishwasher-friendly. The dishwasher’s environment can strip your pan’s seasoning, leading to rust and damaging the iron. Instead, clean cast iron by hand with a brush or scrubber and minimal soap. Then dry it thoroughly and apply a light layer of oil to maintain its seasoning.

Non-stick Pans

While some newer non-stick pans are labeled as dishwasher safe, it’s generally better to hand wash these items. Dishwasher detergents can be too harsh for the non-stick coating, leading to scratches or complete removal of the surface. This shortens your pan’s lifespan and could lead to harmful particles leaching into your food.

Visual demonstration of non-stick pans with adjacent icon indicating not safe for dishwashers.

 Sharp Chef’s Knives

Putting your sharp chef’s knives in the dishwasher is a no-go. The heat and harsh detergents can dull the blades, while the tossing about can damage the knife and potentially other items in the dishwasher. Hand wash your knives, and dry them immediately to prevent rusting.
For an in-depth understanding of how dishwashers affect knives, check out our article on The Dishwasher’s Impact on Knives.

Copper Pans and Mugs

Copper items like pans or Moscow mule mugs can tarnish or lose their shine in a dishwasher. The harsh environment can lead to discoloration and a potential loss of the thermal properties copper is prized for. Instead, hand wash your copper items and use copper polish to keep them looking their best.

Pressure Cooker Seals and Valves

Rubber seals and pressure valves can become damaged or warped in the dishwasher. This can lead to your pressure cooker not sealing correctly and may cause potential safety hazards. It’s best to hand wash these parts to ensure your pressure cooker’s proper functioning and longevity.

Containers with Adhesive Labels

While it might seem easy to remove sticky residue, washing containers with adhesive labels in the dishwasher can lead to a bigger mess. The label could come off and clog the dishwasher filter, leading to potential maintenance issues. Instead, remove tags before washing or soak the container in hot soapy water to loosen the adhesive.

Disposable Aluminum Foil Containers

While it may seem tempting to pop those disposable aluminum containers into the dishwasher for a quick clean, it’s best not to. They can easily misshapen under the pressure and heat of a dishwasher. The aluminum can also oxidize, leaving a dark black residue that could stain your dishwasher’s interior. It’s best to recycle these containers after use.

Visual representation of Disposable Aluminum Foil Containers with adjacent icon highlighting as not dishwasher-safe.

Insulated Travel Mugs and Water Bottles

Insulated items like travel mugs and water bottles can lose their heat-retaining properties if washed in a dishwasher due to the high temperatures affecting the insulating layer. The exterior of these items could also get scratched or discolored. Washing these items by hand using warm, soapy water and a bottle brush is best.

Items with Batteries or Electronic Components

Anything with batteries or electronic components, like specific kitchen scales or coffee grinders, should never be put in a dishwasher. The water and heat can easily damage the electronic parts, rendering the device useless. Permanently remove and clean these parts separately according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Lacquered or Painted Utensils and Dishes

Lacquered or painted utensils and dishes can chip or lose their shine in the dishwasher. The harsh environment of the dishwasher could strip away the paint and damage the item. It’s best to gently hand wash these items to preserve their aesthetic appeal and integrity.

Certain Types of Stainless Steel Items

While stainless steel is generally safe in the dishwasher, some high-quality stainless-steel items, like specific knives or professional cookware, may dull or become damaged. If unsure, check with the manufacturer, err on caution, and hand wash these items.

Brass or Bronze Utensils and Cookware

Brass or bronze items can become discolored or tarnished in the dishwasher, especially due to the combination of heat, water, and detergent. In order to keep their stunning golden hue, it’s best to hand wash these items and polish them occasionally with a suitable metal cleaner.

Visual representation of Brass Cookwares with adjacent icon demonstrating as not dishwasher-safe.

Pewter and Tin Cookware

Pewter and tin are soft metals and can easily be damaged in the dishwasher. The heat and strong detergents can cause dark spots, pitting, or warping of these items. It’s best to hand wash these items in warm soapy water and dry them immediately.

Antique China and Vintage Dishware

Antique china and vintage dishware are often irreplaceable and must be dishwasher-safe. The heat and harsh detergents can cause patterns to fade, gold trim to wear off, or the china to become brittle. Always hand wash these delicate items.

Hand-Painted or Decorated Ceramics

Hand-painted ceramics or those with delicate decals can lose their colors and patterns in the dishwasher. The harsh detergents and high heat are not friendly to these decorative elements. To keep them looking fresh and vibrant, always opt for hand washing.

Hollow-Handle Knives

Hollow-handle knives, especially those made of two pieces, are unsuitable for the dishwasher. The heat and water can cause the handle to become loose or separate from the blade. Hand washes these knives to maintain their structure and sharpness.

Aluminum Cookware

While some aluminum cookware is dishwasher safe, other pieces can darken and become discolored due to the alkaline dishwasher detergent. Hand washing with a mild detergent is the safest way to maintain these items’ appearance and functionality.

Final Thoughts on the 21 Things You Should Never Put in the Dishwasher

Dishwashers are an incredible convenience and an integral part of many modern kitchens. They save us time and effort and can help maintain a tidy, efficient cooking space. But, like all appliances, they have their limitations. Understanding what should and should not be put in the dishwasher can extend the life of your kitchenware and even the dishwasher itself. You can preserve their functionality, beauty, and sentimental value by hand washing the above items. Remember, a little extra time spent at the sink can save money in the long run and keep your kitchen running smoothly.

At WashDryDazzle, our primary goal is to equip you with invaluable knowledge to simplify your day-to-day tasks; to explore more, check out our central hub of Dishwasher Guides.

How to Clean Items Not Suited for Dishwasher Use

So now that we’ve explored the ‘not-so-dishwasher-friendly’ items, the question arises – how do we best clean these items? Fear not, for even without your trusty dishwasher, maintaining the cleanliness and longevity of these items can be simple and effective.

Hand washing is the most common method and can be just as efficient. Use warm water and mild dish soap to prevent any damage to delicate surfaces. For items such as cutting boards or knives, an occasional deep clean with bleach and water can help remove any stubborn residue and ensure hygienic practices. Awareness of safe cleaning solutions is also essential, especially when dealing with sensitive items. Using products with natural ingredients or those specifically labeled as “gentle” can ensure that your items remain in top shape without the risk of harmful residue or chemical damage.

Remember to use soft cloths or sponges to avoid scratching surfaces, especially on items such as non-stick pans or decorated ceramics. In addition, make sure to rinse thoroughly to prevent soap buildup, which can affect the taste of your food.

Drying is another crucial step in the cleaning process. Leaving your items to air dry can result in spots or streaks and even encourage bacterial growth. Always dry your items thoroughly, either by using a clean, dry cloth or a drying rack to ensure sufficient airflow.

Consider specialized cleaning products or methods for items with more stubborn dirt or stains, such as cast iron cookware or silverware. For instance, cast iron pans can be cleaned with coarse salt and a non-metal brush, while silverware can be polished with baking soda and water paste.

Pro Tip

using an old toothbrush for a thorough clean for those more intricate items with hard-to-reach corners and crevices, such as graters or garlic presses. Its small bristles can reach into spaces that sponges or cloths might miss, ensuring every bit of residue is removed. Remember, a clean kitchen tool is a happy kitchen tool!

What to Do If You’ve Already Washed These Items in the Dishwasher

If you’ve unknowingly committed the error of washing these ‘no-go’ items in your dishwasher, don’t panic. There’s always a remedy or course of action to alleviate the situation.

Firstly, assess the damage. Some items may survive a single round in the dishwasher without noticeable harm. Check the item carefully for any visible damage, such as warping, discoloration, or dulling of sharp edges.

For wooden items subjected to the dishwasher’s heat and moisture, ensure they are thoroughly dried to prevent mold. Consider applying food-safe mineral oil to restore shine and protect the wood.

Metal items like silverware, cast iron pans, or copper mugs that have tarnished or rusted can often be polished or re-seasoned to restore their glory. For example, a cast iron pan can be scrubbed clean, dried, and re-seasoned with a thin layer of oil.

Plastic items that have warped can be tricky to restore, and you may need to replace them, mainly if they are used for food storage or preparation. For minor warps, however, you could try the old trick of pouring hot (not boiling) water over the item to make it pliable, then reshaping it while it cools.

Ceramic items or glassware that have become cloudy might benefit from a vinegar treatment. Soak the item in equal vinegar and warm water for about an hour, then rinse and dry thoroughly.

Handy Hint

Prevention is always better than cure. To avoid future mishaps, you should create a ‘dishwasher blocklist’ – a list of items that should never go into the dishwasher. Keep this list handy, stick it on your fridge, and ensure everyone is familiar with it. This can help protect your kitchenware and ensure each piece is cleaned in a way that best preserves its quality and longevity.

Alternatives to Dishwashing for Non-Suitable Items

When your dishwasher isn’t the best option for some of your kitchenware, it’s good to know that alternative cleaning methods are available. Not only will these methods ensure your items are clean, but they can also help prolong their usefulness and aesthetic appeal.

Hand Washing

Visual demonstration of dishes being hand-washed.

As mentioned earlier, hand washing is the most common and arguably the safest way to clean items unsuited for the dishwasher. It gives you the control to gently and effectively clean without risking damage. Remember to use a soft sponge or cloth and mild dish soap. Dry items immediately after washing to prevent water spots and possible bacterial growth.


Visual representation of dishes soaking in water.

Soaking can be very effective for items with stubborn, stuck-on food. To clean your items, fill your sink with warm water and add a few drops of dish soap. Let them soak for some time, and then use a non-abrasive scrubber to clean them. However, be careful with wooden or delicate items, as extended exposure to water can harm them.

Specialized Cleaners

Some items may require specific cleaning products. Silver, copper, brass, and other metals often have specific cleaners designed to clean and restore shine. Similarly, particular cleaners are available for glass, ceramics, and other materials. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using these products.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

These kitchen staples are not just for cooking; they are also effective cleaning agents. Baking soda is a gentle abrasive cleaner, perfect for scrubbing surfaces without causing damage. Conversely, vinegar is excellent for removing stains and restoring shine, especially on glassware.

Hand Wash Delicates: Care Beyond the Dishwasher

All items are not made for the dishwasher’s rigorous environment. Hand washing remains a trusted, effective method, especially for delicate or sensitive items. Embracing the proper cleaning techniques and solutions ensures longevity and maintains the quality of our cherished kitchenware. Remember, a little care goes a long way in preserving function and form. Safe and thoughtful cleaning makes for a happier, more efficient kitchen.



Home Appliances Expert

A. Ditta, a highly regarded authority in home appliances, contributes his expertise to washdrydazzle.com. With 15 years of global experience, Ditta's writings stand out for their quality, accuracy, and user-centric approach. Recognized as a reliable source for washing and drying products, his in-depth knowledge and commitment to providing clear, accurate advice make him a trusted guide for readers worldwide. Ditta’s work is a testimony to his profound expertise in the industry.