dishwasher holding toy bear with white dishes

26 Surprising Things You Can Get Sparkling Clean In Your Dishwasher

That dishwasher in your kitchen is a workhorse. It does a great job of cleaning dishes, of course. But you may not have considered so many other things it will clean and sanitize—things like wastebaskets, baseball caps, filters, and toys. Seriously!

dishwasher holding toy bear with white dishes


As you contemplate using your dishwasher as a household cleaning machine, keep these three things in mind:


Your automatic dishwasher detergent is powerful enough to remove paint and decorative motifs from the surface of metal, plastic, and glass surfaces. Keep this in mind as you contemplate all of the things you can clean in your dishwasher. On a personal note, the only problem I have ever encountered when it comes to “paint removal” is with my Pyrex glass measuring cups. Multiple trips through the dishwasher first lightened the printed measurements on the cups and eventually will take it all away.


For items that could be damaged by dishwasher detergent, opt for plain white vinegar. Instead of pouring the vinegar into the machine or the rinse aid reservoir, set a cup or mug full of white vinegar on the top rack. Now as the machine goes through its cycles, the vinegar spills over gradually, dispensing it gently throughout the cycles.

Air dry

Depending on the items you’re washing and out of an abundance of caution, you may want to opt for “Air Dry” if you are not certain about how your non-dish items might react to the heat of your dishwasher’s dry cycle.


Even though these items live in the kitchen, chances are pretty goof they’ve never seen the inside of the dishwasher. Perhaps they should, and soon!

Exhaust fan filter

That big vent over the stove grabs a lot of smells, steam, exhaust and smoke. What a great job it does. And it gets dirty! Have you looked at that lately? Get up there and remove the cover. It and the filter need to be cleaned frequently to remove the grease and gunk so it can continue to work at its peek performance. Put them through the dishwasher along with your regular dishwasher detergent. Such an easy way to perform what could otherwise be a dirty, icky job.


Your kitchen sponges can build up a lot of stuff including mold and mildew. Each time you run a load of dishes, place one or more of them in the top rack and let it get cleaned and sanitized, too.

Microwave turntable

That glass “plate” that goes round and round in the microwave gets plenty dirty. No worries! Frequently place it in the dishwasher along with other dishes to keep it beautifully clean.

Ceramic hardware

The drawer and cupboard handles can get super dirty and even sticky over time. Instead of cleaning them one at a time, remove and put the entire mesh bag on the top rack, then run them through the dishwasher.

Fridge bins, shelves

Washing these items can be a time-consuming and somewhat torturous ordeal. Can’t be bothered? Run them through the dishwasher instead!


Toothbrush holder, soap dish

Once a week, send toothbrush holders and soap dishes a good cleaning in the dishwasher to help protect from bacteria.

Shower scrubbers

The poofy scrubber, loofah sponges, and bath brushes can get pretty gunked up with soap scum and even mold. Make light work of keeping them sparkling clean and sanitized with a weekly clean in the dishwasher

Drawer organizers

You’ll think they’re brand new once you give an acrylic drawer organizer and good cleaning. It will force you to toss out expired and no-longer-needed items that are cluttering up the bathroom, too,

Exhaust fan cover

Have you taken a gander at the exhaust fan cover in your bathroom? Might want to do that. A lot of air get sucked through that fan and along with it hair spray, oils, and other residues. Carefully remove the cover and give it a trip through the dishwasher every six months.



Flower vases can get a built of hard watermarks on the inside along will other kind of dirt. Your dishwasher is the best way to clean them between uses so they’re always sparkling clean and ready to go.

Light fixtures

Globes from lamps, ceiling fixtures, hurricane lamps will clean up so beautifully when carefully placed in the dishwasher a sent through a regular cycle along with your regular dishwahser detergent. Be careful, however, if those items have decorative decals or paint. See above for an alternative.

Outlet covers, switchplates

Plastic electrical covers can go in the top rack and come out beautiful! It is amazing just how much dirt and grime can build up as fingers come in contact with them on a daily basis!

Heater vent grates

Remove the dust and sticky grime from steel and aluminum vent grates. Caution: You will want to hand wash any vent grates that have been painted.

Toys and Baby Things

Toys and building blocks

Face it. Toys get touched with sticky fingers and slobbered on. Legos taking a beating with all of those crevices. Ditto for game pieces. And they’re a pain to wash by hand. But putting them through the dishwasher is a brilliant idea for keeping them organized, clean, and sanitized.

Pacifiers and teething rings

Routinely clean these items by placing them in a mesh bag or securing them in the covered utensil or silverware basket.

Bath toys

Even bath toys need a good cleaning at least once a month. You can give all a thorough cleaning in the dishwasher. Just be sure to load small items into the covered utensil holder or a mesh bag.


Stuffed animals do especially well when run through the dishwasher. But be very careful if it’s an old, well-loved, much-needed toy that cannot be replaced. That one should be washed by hand. This is a great tip for say a load of stuffed animals headed to your next garage sale. Those toys will  smell and look like (almost) like new.

Personal Care

Hairbrushes and combs

Plastic hairbrushes and combs can be placed in the utensil basket for easy cleaning. No natural bristle brushes or tools with wooden handles, though.

Facial scrub brushes

Place the brush attachment from an electronic facial tool in the dishwasher utensil holder to kill bacteria.

Manicure and Pedicure Tools

The detergent and heat of the dishwasher will kill fungus, bacteria, and leave tools ready to use.


Food dishes

You can safely wash metal, plastic, and ceramic pet dishes in the dishwasher in the same you wash the family’s kitchenware,

Pet toys

Keep Fido’s and Fluffy’s favorite toys clean, sanitized, and looking like new.

Leashes, collars

Provided they are washable (no leather in the dishwasher, please) your dishwasher is the best place to keep leashes and collars looking good. Opt for the top rack just and you should probably skip the dry cycle.


Shin guards

They get pretty dirty and stinky! Your dishwasher is the best place to keep them looking like new for every game and practice.

Golf balls

There’s a ball washer at random tees on the course, right? You’ve got your own ball washer right there in the kitchen!

Yard toys

From sand buckets to water table accessories and outside toys, take all the dirt and grime to the dishwasher and let it do the hard work for you!

Baseball caps

This is quite possibly the best use ever for your dishwasher. Those caps can get sweaty, dirty, and stinky. But you dare not spoil that shape! You can wash them in the dishwasher but it takes care and a little effort to get it right. If you decide to give it a try, you may be well advised to purchase a form to help the cap hold its shape. Be sure the brim is not stiffened with cardboard, and only use a dishwasher detergent that does not contain bleach. NEVER place a vintage cap in the dishwasher!



Decrystallize honey

That jar of honey was once delicious and beautiful, but now it looks gross because it has crystallized and turned almost solid. Don’t throw it out! It’s easy to turn crystallized, over-microwaved honey into tasty flowing goodness again.

Your honey bear may be all dried up now, but a simple fix can save the day! Set the tightly closed jar in the top rack and run it through a dishwasher cycle, allowing it to return to room temperature in the dishwasher.

This method works because the water spray provides slow, even heating, and gentle agitation. Brilliant!

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8 replies
  1. Rose Simmons says:

    I know Mary mentions this in other articles, but I like to use traditional diswasher detergent (gel or granules) for soaking clean lots of things. I’ve also had success w/wooden handled hair brushes (I use cool water, & don’t leave them soaking for very long, rinse & dry them thoroughly as possible).

  2. Renee Terry says:

    I have put my daughters jelly sandals in the dishwasher as well and my crocs.
    Just a warning….if you heat up the honey too much it does kill off some of the good enzymes or bacteria (not sure if thats the right word) it wont affect the flavor-Just the health benefits…using a metal utensil for honey has the same effect as well. Great article by the way.

  3. Barbara says:

    Can the plastic honey bear really go through the dishwasher or does it need to be a jar type? such great ideas for using the dishwasher.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Thanks for that reminder, Susan. Never put anything aluminum in the dishwasher. It reacts terribly with the dishwasher detergent and as you point out (we aren’t sure how you know ), it will dull and ugly.

  4. Barbara Resch says:

    I have successfully put selected fake flowers in to be cleaned. Nothing dried that can deteriorate. Some wreathes. Short cycle with less soap. Ps. I’m ok with trial and error.


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