15 Non-Kitchen Items You Can Clean in the Dishwasher

Did you know your dishwasher isn’t just for washing cups and dishes? Here are 15 surprising items you can easily clean in your dishwasher!

Amanda Thomas
5-minute read
Episode #112

Did you know your dishwasher isn’t just for washing dishes? There are so many other things around the house that can be put in your dishwasher to get a good cleaning and sanitizing.

Turns out, your humble dishwasher is a multi-purpose cleaning machine. Here’s a lengthy list of 15 items that can be washed in this quick and easy way: 

Note: I recommend washing these things through a cycle by themselves. Don’t load your lunch plates in with this stuff!


15 Non-Kitchen Items You Can Clean in the Dishwasher 

Baseball caps: You know how stinky and sweaty those favorite baseball caps can get. Just load the top rack of the dishwasher with baseball caps that need a good cleaning. If you’re concerned about the cap losing its shape, you can purchase a plastic cap washer apparatus which is a plastic frame to place your hat into for safe cleaning without losing its shape.

Sports gear: In that same load of baseball caps, go ahead and load in shin guards and other padding. Instead of using dishwasher detergent, try adding a few tablespoons of baking soda to the detergent receptacle. Don’t use the drying cycle. Let everything air dry.

Sports mouth guards: Toss these into the silverware basket to get a good cleaning!

Dog accessories: It might be obvious that you can wash your dog’s food and water bowls in the dishwasher, but did you know that you can also toss in any plastic or rubber dog toys, dog collars, and dog leashes into the dishwasher? (No leather or rhinestones though). When the cycle is done running, dry off any metal parts to avoid rusting.

Toys: Believe it or not, using the dishwasher to sanitize toys is pure genius. Just think about how often grubby little hands (and mouths) are on your kids’ toys. Things like Legos, action figures, any plastic baby or toddler toys (provided there are no electronic parts), plastic balls and blocks. Add small toys like Legos and action figures to a mesh bag and load them in the top rack.

Using vinegar or baking soda as your detergent is a nice green alternative. Don’t use the drying cycle. Simply open the dishwasher as soon as it has finished running and let everything steam dry. This is a very good thing to do if your little ones have been sharing the flu bug or any other nasty illnesses. We often focus on sterilizing the house to get rid of germs, but really the toys need the same treatment.

Flip flops, garden clogs, and rain boots: All of this footwear can be tossed in the dishwasher for a thorough cleaning. If there are chunks of mud or dirt, go ahead and rinse those off outside before adding the footwear to the dishwasher. Make sure these shoes are plastic or rubber and remove any kind of inserts or supports first. Note: Crocs are not OK to clean in the dishwasher.

Garden tools: Yes, you can wash your garden tools in the dishwasher. However, be careful if these tools have come into contact with any pesticides or other chemicals. If that’s the case, better wash them with the hose outside. It’s best to run an additional cleaning and sanitizing cycle once you’ve cleaned your garden tools in the dishwasher.

See also: Dishwashing Tips for the Domestically Challenged


Hairbrushes, combs, and toothbrushes: These personal hygiene items do need a good clean-up every now and then - and you can do it in the dishwasher! Before loading any hairbrushes, be sure to remove any excess hair and also make sure the handles are plastic. Wood handles and natural-bristled brushes will not fare well in the dishwasher. Lots of people regularly run their toothbrush through a cycle in the dishwasher to sanitize and kill germs. As long as your toothbrush is plastic, you’re good to go. Battery-operated and electric toothbrushes are a no go.

Light switch covers and vent and fan covers: All these household items can be run through a cycle in the dishwasher. It’s a great way to sanitize light switch covers that are touched all the time. A dishwasher cleaning will clean out all the dust and grime from vent and fan covers as well.

Cabinet knobs and handles: Ceramic knobs and handles from your cabinets can be cleaned and sanitized in the dishwasher. Load them into the silverware baskets and run through a cycle. I do not recommend this for metal handles or pulls and brass should never be cleaned in the dishwasher.

Smelly kitchen sponges: Yes, you should toss your kitchen sponge in the dishwasher every week or so. You can add it right in with a regular load of dishes. The heat will kill any bacteria and those funky smells will disappear.

Cleaning supplies: It’s a good idea to clean your cleaning supplies periodically. Handheld brooms, dust pans, scrub brushes, vacuum cleaner parts, and small garbage pails can all be thrown into the dishwasher. Wood or natural-bristled scrub brushes are not OK. If you are unsure about your vacuum cleaner parts, check with the manufacturer before adding it to the load.

Glass lampshades or sconces: Any shade or sconce from a light fixture that can be removed from the electrical parts is a good candidate for the dishwasher. You know how grungy these can get with the grimy dust and the little dead bugs…ewww.  Maybe rinse those dead critters down the drain before adding them to the dishwasher. You’ll be amazed at how clean these pieces get after one cycle and you barely have to lift a finger.

Utensil trays, plastic organizers, plastic office containers: The organizers in your utensil drawer, junk drawer, and office space all can get pretty gross after a while. These can be cleaned in the dishwasher, too. I recommend the top rack for any plastics or turn off the heating cycle and let things air dry if you want to load the bottom rack as well.

Potatoes: Yes, you read that right. If you are preparing potatoes for 20 people, it’s super easy to load those spuds into the top rack of the dishwasher and run them through a quick rinse cycle. Now, if only you could get the dishwasher to peel them…

7 Items You Cannot Put in the Dishwasher

And just for the sake of completeness, here’s a list of things that should never go in the dishwasher:

  • Cast iron pans 
  • Copper 
  • Brass
  • Fragile china or silver
  • Wooden spoons or wooden cutting boards
  • Good kitchen knives
  • Insulated mugs

Now, go ahead and use your dishwasher to its fullest potent and make cleaning a much simpler task around your home!

Until next time, I'm the Domestic CEO, helping you love your home.

Dishwasher and other images courtesy of Shutterstock.