Interior Kitchen & Dining Appliances

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

Save yourself the time from scrubbing and sanitizing on your own—clean these 20 household items in your dishwasher.

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Load It Up

Did you hear? The dishwasher isn’t just for dishes anymore. As a matter of fact, you can wash a whole host of things you may never have considered putting in your dishwasher. Anything from plastic toys to vacuum cleaner parts to throw pillows can go through a cycle for a quick and easy rejuvenation.

Baseball Caps

After shielding your eyes from the sun all summer long, baseball caps can get sweaty and gross. Clean them off with a quick laundering in the top rack of the dishwasher! Just fit a cap around the pegs, secure with a clothespin, and then run the washer with lukewarm water. Be sure to skip the dry cycle—instead, reshape the bill and let the hat sit flat on the counter to dry.

Sports Equipment

Baseball caps aren’t the only sporting equipment you can freshen up in the dishwasher. Shin guards, knee pads, shoulder pads, and mouth guards can all get sudsy on the top rack. Again, use lukewarm water and skip the dry cycle; remove excess water with a dry towel before storing the equipment away.

Children's Toys

Plastic toys for babies and kids are perfect candidates for cleaning in the dishwasher—so long as they’re not battery-operated. Place tiny items like Legos that might otherwise slip through the wire rack in a mesh bag or the dishwasher basket so you don’t lose any pieces. There’s no need for a separate load for these items; you can wash them on a normal cycle right alongside your dishes.

Kitchen Sponges

Get the funk out of your kitchen sponge by running it through a cycle in the dishwasher. Stand it up between the pegs on the top rack, and let it take a turn through with your dishes. In fact, this method works for any scrub brushes you might have, so long as they don’t have wooden handles.

Related: Would Your Kitchen Pass a Restaurant Health Inspection?

Pet Accessories

Like children toys, pet toys can get thrown into the dishwasher along with some of their other accessories. Put their food and water bowls through the cycle with your own dishes. You can also clean leashes and collars in the dishwasher assuming it’s not leather. 

Hand Tools and Gardening Tools

Gardening tools with plastic handles can survive a cycle in the dishwasher to wash off grime, and the same goes for screwdrivers and other small hand tools. Keep out tools with wooden handles, however, as the water and heat can cause the wood to crack or split.

Lighting Fixture Covers

When a layer of dust starts to obstruct the light from a fixture, it may be time to remove the glass covers from ceiling lamps and sconces and give them a wash. Cleaning these is as easy as cleaning any bowl or dish—just wash them right along with the rest of your glassware, and they’ll be crystal clear again.

Vent and Fan Covers

Dust and grime collects on vent and fan covers over time, and it’s not that easy to remove. Here’s a trick: Stick vent and fan covers in the dishwasher to get them clean again. This also works to sanitize switch plates, which are under constant attack by dirty, germ-laden fingers.

Related:  8 Unusual Tips for Your Cleanest Bathroom Ever

Hair Brushes and Accessories

A run through the dishwasher can wash away hairspray residue and leftover hair gel from hairbrushes, combs, plastic clips, and headbands. Group them in a mesh bag to keep the pieces together, and double-check that you’re cleaning only plastic items before you start the cycle—save wood-handled brushes for a hand wash, because the heat and hot water can cause wooden items to crack.

Vacuum Cleaner Attachments

Clean your vacuum cleaner parts and attachments in the dishwasher to rid them of dust, hair, and general grimy buildup. Put the filter in as well, and you’ll eliminate that familiar, funky smell your vacuum may have. It’s best to do this without dishes in the dishwasher and run it for a cycle afterward to clear it out.

Humidifier Trays

Simplify your humidifier maintenance by running the trays and other all-plastic parts through the dishwasher. This comes as particularly great news, because humidifiers tend to be breeding grounds for bacteria and mold if they’re not cleaned regularly.

Related: 7 Reasons Every Home Needs a Humidifier

Throw Pillows

Yes! You can put throw pillows in your dishwasher—provided you remove it from its pillowcase first. The stuffing won’t get mangled like it might in the washing machine. First, pretreat any stains prior to washing. Then fit the pillows in the top rack, and use Borax in place of dishwashing detergent to prevent sudsing. Skip the heated dry option; hang them instead.

Flip-Flops and Rain Boots

Fit your flip-flops and rain boots in the top rack of the dishwasher, and they’ll come out fresh again! It’s probably smart to wash dirt-covered footwear separate from food-encrusted dishes, but otherwise the practice is totally safe. Skip the dry cycle or remove the footwear before the cycle starts to make sure the heat won’t damage the shoes.

Soap Dish and Toothbrush Holder

Have bathroom accessories caked with soap scum and hard water stains? You can put those items, like the soap dish and toothbrush holder, on the top rack of the dishwasher with your regular run to rid them of germs and grime. 

Related: 9 Top Tips for a Bathroom That Cleans Itself

Cabinet Hardware

You touch them constantly, but cabinet hardware is often a spot that gets missed during daily chores. Unscrew the ceramic or metal knobs and handles and place them in a mesh bag on the top rack. Make sure you don’t include anything that’s been painted, which could come off during the rinse. 

Related: Would Your Kitchen Pass a Restaurant Health Inspection?

Microwave Plate

Cleaning the microwave is a hassle and can be an awkward job reaching inside to scrub the nooks and crannies. Luckily, you can make it easier on yourself by taking the microwave plate out and putting that in with your other dirty dishes. 

Related: How To: Clean a Microwave

Refrigerator Drawers

If produce went bad in the refrigerator drawer or it’s just time for a good cleaning, take them out and run them through a cycle. The dishwasher will do a more thorough job than your attempt at them with a sponge. 


A vase is just like any other ceramic or glass bowl you own. Unless it’s hand painted, you can put a vase in with your other dishes. To prevent it from chipping, keep it on the top rack. 

Switch Plate and Outlet Covers

Like the cabinet hardware, you might not think much about the light switch and outlet covers around the house. But constant use means a lot of lingering germs. It doesn’t hurt to clean these in the dishwasher every few once in awhile.

Run It Through a Cycle

By putting these things in the dishwasher to clean, you have extra time to relax—or focus on other chores.