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Think you can do it all? Your dishwasher may be the biggest multitasker in the house. Despite its name, this super appliance can wash tons of things from sneakers and switch plates to keyboards and car parts.

dishwasherPhoto: Getty Images

I've been known to run a single dishwasher load with a serving platter and giant pot while 20 dinner plates wait their turn. My energy and water conserving self begrudges this lazy woman, but I just can't stand hand-washing dishes and I'll do almost anything to avoid it.

Even with my liberal dishwasher use, I've always kept it (more or less) to dishes. Imagine my surprise (and sheer joy!) to learn that there are endless other items that can go in the dishwasher. Here are some of my recent discoveries.

Any shoe that wouldn't be damaged by water should be able to go in the dishwasher. Canvas shoes, flip-flops, jelly shoes and rubber boots come out squeaky clean. Make sure you remove the liners before putting them in. Some experts warn that this is not a good method for crocks while other people swear by it. Whatever you do, make sure the heat dry is turned off.

Baseball Hat
I've washed baseball hats in the clothes washer before only to pull them out clean but misshapen. Toss that stinky cap in the dishwasher instead.

Hairbrushes, Combs and Hair Accessories

These plastic hair tools can go in the cutlery tray, but be cautioned that some poor quality barrettes might not survive the trip, and little decorative additions could come off.

Plastic Toys
Little plastic toys and action figures are prefect dishwasher candidates. S imply toss these items in the cutlery closure, plastic basket or in a mesh bag and wash away. This goes for pet toys too!

heat vent, air vent, grillGetty Images

Vent Covers and Fan Grills
Vent covers and fan grills catch dirt and dust that passes through. Instead of trying to clean inside all the grooves, remove them and run them through a dishwasher cycle.

Cup Holders
Cup holders get gross, fast. Add this to your bi-weekly cleaning routine and run stroller and car cup holders through the dishwasher.

Computer Keyboards
Microsoft and Logitech suggest a damp cloth, but still some brave geeks insist that the keyboard can in fact survive the dishwasher. This much debated tip is very much a "do at your own risk" kind of chore.

Kitchen Brushes
They might look clean after a thorough rinse, but they're not. Sanitize them in the dishwasher.

Scrub Brushes

Vegetable brushes and bottle brushes can both go in the dishwasher to clean and sanitize.

Car Parts
Various car parts including hub caps can clean and polish up nicely in the dishwasher. If you're washing smaller parts, remember that mesh bag or plastic basket.

Window Screens
If it fits in the dishwasher you'll save all that tedious detail washing and blast though dust and grime in one dishwasher cycle.

Light Fixture Covers
On a gentle setting, wash glass light fixture covers.

Switch Plates
Another plastic item that can be easily removed, cleaned and replaced.

stove knobs, dishwasherGetty Images

Stove Knobs
Our stove element knobs get greasy and grimy very quickly. I like to toss them in the cutlery tray every other week to keep them clean.

potatoes, dishwasherPhoto: AP

Yes, the kind you eat! Put potatoes on the top rack without detergent and run a quick rinse cycle. This saves you all that washing and frees you up to do the rest of your dinner prep. --It also serves as great dinner conversation! Other reports of dishwasher cooking include lasagna and fish. I'm not brave enough to try this, but if you have, we'd love to hear about it!

Refrigerator shelves

Instead of scrubbing that sticky syrup off your glass or plastic shelves, take them out and run them through the dishwasher.

Ceramic Cabinet Knobs
Take them off and toss them in the cutlery tray or mesh bag. This might be more work than necessary, but for particularly dirty knobs it might just do the trick.

Soap Dishes and Toothbrush Holders

Grimy bathroom accessories are unsightly and unsanitary. Save the soaking and scrubbing by tossing them in the dishwasher instead.

Faux Flowers
Bring, err, life back to your plastic floral arrangements! Put them in a mesh bag on the top rack and run a quick rinse cycle.

broom, dustpan, dishwasherGetty Images

Plastic Broom Heads and Dustpans
Make sure you remove any trapped dust and hair from the broom head before running it through the dishwasher, as it could clog the drain. >

pen cup, desk accessories, home office, dishwasherGetty Images

Desk Accessories
Pen Holders, sticky note trays and other plastic desk accessories can go in the dishwasher.

Makeup Brushes
These should be sanitizes every few months. Put them in the cutlery tray and they'll come out as good as new.

Trash Can Lids

Run your grungy trash can lids through the dishwasher. While some people swear by this, I'd prefer to keep garbage out of the dishwasher and suggest just spraying it off with a hose instead.


Garden tools and household tools with plastic handles can go in the dishwasher. Wash them separately if they have had any chemicals on them.

Sporting Equipment
Shin-guards, knee-pads and mouth-guards can all go on the top rack.

What unusual things have you put in the dishwasher. Let us know what worked (and what didn't!).

  • Laura

    I recently washed a load of potatoes that came out great--unfortunately, I also washed a basketload of apples in the same load--and forgot to stop it before the drying cycle--so I had a lot of BAKED apples!!!!!!

    They made pretty great applesauce.....

    Laura from Longview

  • Robert Alba

    My x-wife's cousin usd to brag sbout washing his underware in the dishwasher when he ran ou of clean ones to avoid going to a laundromat

  • Maggie

    We found this checklist of 25 unusual dishwasher items so useful, we linked to it on our site!

    Check it out:

    Thanks for the tips!

    24/Savvy Team

  • Linda

    I have used my diswasher as a warming oven during the holidays, Just put on heat / dry cycle, NO water

  • Tess

    Dont forget ---- those sponges you use on a daily basis too...... Get a few of them and keep placing them in the dishwasher at the end of the night....... Remember, they are loaded with germs (ewwwww) -- so stay safe by constantly cleaning them in the diswasher (or even microwave them for 1-2 minutes before you use them ......... just remember to let it cool off before you pick them up )

  • toollady

    I wonder if this would work on venitian blinds.

  • makeda

    I take a nice size piece of Salmon,season it well,and lay slices of dill and lemon on top and wrap it in foil paper. I seal it and then wrap it a second time. When I start a load for the dishwasher,I lay my salmon on the top rack. After the cycle has completed , I remove my cooked salmon. Comes out NICE.

  • Ann

    Vacuum cleaner attachments......came out great.... and clean!

  • Jim

    want to clean up your golf balls? Works great.....

  • hhecuba

    I have put car parts in my dishwasher, as well as the tools after working on my car. Now that I am married, I have to sneak car parts in now.

  • Pat Farrar

    A pain to remove and replace, but the yucky dog door flap comes out looking great with all the grunge from the dog & cat backs gone! If anybody knows a way to clean that without taking it apart, please share!. I tried a steam cleaner. It may sanitize, but doesn't budge the crud.

  • Alyzibeth

    Hey Pat....
    I tried cleaning my dog door flap with grease lightening once... DON'T DO IT!! It ate away at the rubber and I wound up having to buy a new one. I have the door by "pet safe" and it removes easily enough. I'm glad now for this tip on throwing it into the does get gross.

  • vegetarian gal

    what if you took a sponge and wiped it down? then you could use the scrubbing side to get the dirt off. other than that, i'm not really sure because my cat door is made of wood and has not gotten dirty...yet
    :D yay

  • Anne

    It never ceases to astound me at the dumb suggestions I read.
    Would I put most of the items mentioned in the dish washer,
    wash them, then turn around and run a load of my dishes, pots,
    pans and silverware in the same matter how
    hot the water or how much detergent I use,. I don't think so!!

  • Susan

    I just had a good laugh because of your comment. "Turn around" and put dishes, etc. into the dishwasher. Think about that literally and it's pretty funny. Do you turn around slowly or spin?

    What is the difference if other things are washed in the dishwasher anyway? Things come out clean. That also means the dishwasher is clean when you're done. That is, if it works right.

  • cwarrenx33

    No way I would put most of those things in the dishwasher where dishes that I eat off of are washed! Sneakers, broom heads, dustpans, garbage can lids..... eeeeewwwwwww!!! There are a few things that look like a good idea... like kitchen brushes, refrigerator shelves, scrub brushes and soap dishes.

    As for sponges, I soak them in a weak clorox solution for about 10 minutes every few days. If you leave them for an hour or more in the clorox solution they end up falling apart.

  • goldiloxx

    Sponges are nasty , just don't use them........ and carpet too. If anyone wants to cut down on filth, germs and help their allergies ...get rid of your carpet.

  • cath

    I put my Hummel figurines in the dish washer once a year. Makes them sparkle and doesn't hurt them.

  • King Twitch

    How about my mother-in-law?

  • marsy

    I don't understand the keyboard suggestion.. if you get it wet it fails?


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