Interior Kitchen & Dining Appliances

12 Things Never to Put in Your Dishwasher

The dishwasher is truly a miracle worker in the kitchen. Instead of having to wash plates, pots, and cutlery by hand, homeowners can give them a thorough cleaning in their trusty machine, saving a tremendous amount of time and labor. Unfortunately, all this convenience comes with a few drawbacks. High water temperature can damage your dinnerware, as can the corrosive alkalies, bleaches, and other chemicals in dishwasher detergents. This doesn’t mean you should start slaving over a sink of soapy water, though. Just be sure to wash the following 12 items by hand to keep your kitchen utensils—and your dishwasher—in tip-top shape.
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Narrow-Necked Bottles

Although narrow-necked bottles can be upcycled for a number of DIY projects, you should never clean them in the dishwasher. It’s virtually impossible for the machine’s spray to get inside the teeny-tiny opening. Instead, put a little warm water in the bottle, then add a squirt of dish soap and a spoonful of uncooked rice. Shake the bottle and the rice “scrubbers” will remove gunk from the sides and bottom.

Related: 10 Things You Didn’t Know Dish Soap Could Do

Hand-Painted Glass and China

Neither the delicate hand-painted designs on the heirloom china your grandmother gave you as a wedding gift nor the gold filigree on your special-occasion dessert glasses can withstand the heat and harsh detergent of a dishwasher. To keep these cherished, delicate pieces looking great, wash them by hand in gentle dishwashing liquid, then dry them off with a dish towel.

Related: The 10 Best Things to Buy Secondhand

Wooden Items

Wooden utensils can crack and warp in the dishwasher because the prolonged exposure to water and detergent dries out the wood grain. To clean your wooden spoons or cutting board, simply sprinkle a little baking soda on the surface and scrub lightly to remove stuck-on food residue. 

Related: 21 Clever Little Things to Do with Scrap Wood

Uncoated Cast-Iron Cookware

After a run through the dishwasher, your cast-iron skillet will likely be coated in residue or marred by corrosion. Uncoated cast iron is prone to “flash rust,” corrosion that occurs rapidly during the dishwasher’s drying or cool-down cycle. Wash your cast-iron pots and pans by hand, and dry them immediately afterward with a dish towel to prevent rust.

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Graters and Garlic Presses

The tiny holes in graters and garlic presses trap bits of finely chopped food that your dishwasher simply can’t remove. To clean these utensils, wash them or soak them right after use. Keep a dish brush handy to scrub food particles out of the holes in the grater. 

Related: 7 Kitchen Sink Sins to Avoid

Recycled Plastic Food Containers

Tubs that hold cottage cheese or spreadable margarine are great for storing leftovers, but they turn into a twisted plastic mess in the dishwasher. The thin plastic simply can’t withstand high temperatures. If you want to reuse these containers, wash them by hand and let them dry on the dish rack.

Related: Your Dishwasher Can Do Better: 9 Tips to Boost Performance

Copper Pans and Utensils

With its superior heat conduction, copper is a favorite of accomplished kitchen chefs. But this high-end material deserves some TLC that your dishwasher can’t provide. Wash copper pots and pans by hand to keep them from becoming dull and discolored. To remove the occasional tarnish, spread a little ketchup on the copper surface and let it sit for 15 minutes before wiping off and washing.

Related: 10 Home Cleaners to Borrow from the Pantry

Crystal Stemware

Your stunning crystal champagne flutes contain lead oxide, which gives them clarity and brilliance. Unfortunately, the alkali in dishwasher detergent can leave them dull, hazed, or permanently etched. Always wash crystal stemware by hand, and for a super-clear appearance, gently rub with a soft dishrag dipped in vinegar.

Related: Over a Dozen Things You Didn’t Know You Could Clean in the Dishwasher


Collapsible rubber food containers make storage a snap, but harsh dishwasher detergent will dull and degrade them over time. This also holds true for those rubber gaskets found on blender jars and food processor bowls. Hand-wash all rubber to keep it in pristine shape.

Related: 7 Clever (Unauthorized) Uses for Common Appliances

Nonstick Pans and Skillets

To make your nonstick cookware last longer, take the time to wash each item by hand. Harsh dishwasher detergents find their way into the tiniest nicks, degrading the underlying metal and shortening the life of your pans and skillets. Also take care to use only non-scratch spatulas and spoons while cooking to protect the surface of the cookware.

Related: Buy or DIY: 8 Clever Solutions for Storing Pots and Pans

Adhesive Labels

If you want to recycle a glass food jar, remove the adhesive label before putting it in the dishwasher. The sticky substance can clog your machine’s drain, reducing its cleaning ability and potentially requiring a technician to fix the problem. Keep a bottle of nail polish remover handy to take off stubborn labels.

Related: 10 Unexpected Things to Put in Your Freezer—And Why

Stand Mixer Paddle and Whisks

Don’t risk putting your mixer’s paddle, whisk, or dough hook in the dishwasher, unless the owner’s manual says the items are “dishwasher safe.” Many mixer accessories have a coating that can degrade with repeated contact with detergent.

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Save Your Stuff

To sum up: Stop ruining your cookware and utensils by putting them in the dishwasher. True, you’ll need to spend a little more time hand washing dishes but you’ll save your money in the long-run.