20 Surprising Things You Can Clean in the Dishwasher (And How To Do It Right)

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Life gets busy, so we’re all about taking shortcuts when they’re available, especially when it comes to cleaning. When you stop to think about all of the stuff in your life that accumulates dirt and muck, the thought of cleaning becomes overwhelming. Luckily, there are quite a few things you can clean in your dishwasher that might surprise you.

1. Refrigerator Shelves And Drawers

things you can wash in a dishwasher - fridge shelves
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Over time, food particles and spills lead to a funky mess inside your fridge. Don’t feel like scrubbing your refrigerator shelves, drawers, and bins? Many fridge models come with removable accessories, allowing you to pop them into the dishwasher. Place larger items on the bottom and smaller pieces on the top rack, and while you’re at it put your microwave’s turntable in there, too.

2. Glass Light Fixtures

things you can wash in a dishwasher - light fixtures
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It’s a good idea to routinely clean your light fixtures to avoid the build-up of dust and grime. Dump out any large debris and dead bugs (yes, they fly in there and die). Remove glass globes and shades from light fixtures and run them through your dishwasher to make them sparkle.

3. Plastic Brushes

things you can wash in a dishwasher - tooth brush
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Are you tired of getting grossed out by your hairbrush or thinking about all the bacteria that likely end up on your toothbrush? Clean and sanitize plastic brushes and toothbrushes in the dishwasher by placing them in the utensil rack during a wash cycle. Aim to wash these items weekly to eliminate bacteria and potential mold spores. Avoid washing brushes that have wooden handles or natural bristles in the dishwasher.

4. Range Hood Filter Covers

range hood filters
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Your range hood gets particularly grimy over time from exposure to grease splatters, oils, and other cooking particles. These elements pass through the filter covers on their way out of your kitchen and leave a lot of residue behind. Lucky for you, many of the covers are dishwasher-safe. Use a dishwasher liquid that cuts through grease well to make your range hood filter covers as good as new.

5. Flower Pots

flower pots
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It’s a good idea to clean flower pots before using them to plant a new flower or herb. You can wash most terra cotta, glass, and plastic flower pots in the dishwasher. Use a low-temperature setting for terra cotta pots and allow them to air dry thoroughly after removing them from the dishwasher before storing or using them. Since terra cotta is porous, the dry cycle won’t completely dry the pots.

6. Tub And Shower Mats

things you can wash in a dishwasher - shower mats
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Rubber non-slip mats in the tub and shower are constantly exposed to moisture, making them susceptible to mold growth. Hang your mats to dry after every use and run them through the dishwasher once a week to keep them in tip-top shape. If they’re still wet after removing them from the dishwasher, hang them over your shower rod to finish drying.

7. Sponges

things you can wash in a dishwasher - sponges
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Disinfect sponges, shower poofs, and loofahs in the dishwasher. Place them inside a laundry bag to keep them from snagging on the dish rack or other items. The high heat in the dishwasher cleans these items well, especially since they have so many little holes and crevices where bacteria can linger. Skip the sanitizing feature, though, as these cycles tend to get too hot for plastic sponges and scrubbers.

8. Flip-Flops

things you can wash in a dishwasher - flip flops
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If you live in your flip-flops, treat your feet to a clean pair by tossing your shoes in the dishwasher. Wash them on the top rack on low heat and avoid cleaners with bleach. To tackle funky smells, use a cupful of baking soda and two parts vinegar to help neutralize odors. After washing, air dry your flip-flops in the sun.

9. Shower Heads

things you can wash in a dishwasher - shower head
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Get rid of that annoying scale and gunk on your shower head by adding it to the top rack of your dishwasher the next time you wash your pots and pans. Add some vinegar to the cycle for extra cleaning power. If your dishwasher has a pots and pans cycle this is the one to use. Otherwise, use the cycle you typically use for your cookware.

10. Plastic Toys

things you can wash in a dishwasher - toys
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Toys, including bath toys, end up covered in dirt, germs, and other icks. Bath toys are notorious for holding onto moisture and becoming the perfect breeding ground for mold and bacteria. You certainly don’t want your kids to handle these things without giving them a good cleaning. Luckily, many plastic and rubber non-electronic toys are dishwasher-safe. Check the label or manufacturer’s recommendations to make sure, then run them through a cycle.

11. Baseball Caps

baseball cap
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If you have a favorite baseball cap that you wear often, you know how gross it can get around the rim. Sweat, makeup, and body oils build up inside your cap and lead to yucky stains. Use a baseball cap form to wash your hat in the top rack of the dishwasher. Don’t put vintage caps in the dishwasher or wash caps with cardboard inserts. Also, avoid using cleaners with bleach.

12. Vent Covers

vent cover
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The vent covers throughout your house constantly catch particles and debris as air cycles through them. Dust and grime collect on the grates, forming a yucky build-up over time. You can wash aluminum or steel vent grates in the dishwasher, but if they’re painted, you’ll need to wash them by hand.

13. Sporting Gear

sporting gear
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It’s essential to maintain sporting gear to keep it performing optimally. Furthermore, protective gear, like shin and mouth guards, need regular cleaning to keep them safe, odor-free, and in good shape. Various sporting equipment, from golf balls to helmets, can go in the dishwasher; simply check the manufacturer’s label. Place smaller items in a mesh laundry bag to keep them together, or put them in the utensil rack or accessory basket.

14. Plastic Switchplates And Outlet Covers

switch covers
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When was the last time you really took a good look at your switch plates and outlet covers? You touch these things constantly, leaving behind dirty fingerprints and stains. Place plastic switch plates and outlet covers in the top rack of the dishwasher to clean them. Avoid washing brass or painted covers of any kind in the dishwasher. Keep the screws somewhere safe so you don’t lose them.

15. Rubber And Plastic Dog Toys

pet toys
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Eliminate dirt and bacteria on plastic and rubber dog toys with a turn through the dishwasher. Other dog essentials that are easy to clean in the dishwasher are plastic, glass, ceramic, and metal dog bowls. Your pup’s synthetic collars and leashes are other good contenders for the top rack, but stick to cleaning leather ones by hand.

16. Tools

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Tools of all kinds, from garden trowels to hammers, see their fair share of dirt, grease, oil, grime, and more. As long as they don’t have wooden handles, load them into the dishwasher to get rid of pesticides, bacteria, dirt, and other icky elements. Cleaning your tools regularly keeps them working at their best and prolongs their lifespan.

17. Cabinet And Drawer Knobs And Pulls

cabinet knobs
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Since cabinet and drawer pulls and knobs get touched frequently, they get dirty quickly. Regularly cleaning them keeps them looking their best. Unscrew the knobs from the drawer front. Clean sticky, icky metal and ceramic knobs in the dishwasher by placing them in a mesh bag and putting them in the top rack. It’s best to wash wooden and painted knobs and pulls by hand.

18. Manicure And Pedicure Tools

manicure tools
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Cleaning self-care items is critical to maintain your overall health. Neglecting to clean various grooming supplies opens the door to infections and other problems. You don’t need any fancy cleaning solution for your manicure and pedicure tools. Load them into the utensil rack of your dishwasher and run them through a regular cycle to eradicate bacteria, germs, and fungi.

19. Rain Boots

rain boots
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If you have rubber rain boots with no lining, you can wash them in the dishwasher on the bottom rack. Rinse off excess dirt and mud first to reduce the work your appliance needs to do. Turn the boots upside down when you load them so they don’t fill with water.

20. Car Accessories

car accessories
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We spend a lot of time in our cars, and it shows. Floor mats and cup holders are especially prone to mess. Dirty shoes leave behind all kinds of sludge on car mats, and spills, crumbs, and other questionable bits and pieces end up in cup holders. If you have removable cup holders, wash them and your car mats in the dishwasher. Put cup holder inserts on the top rack and wash rubber floor mats on the top or bottom rack.