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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!).



  • Jeff Wear

    Couple of things... I am a Geek, so let me warn you against the Keyboard thing. It actually is quite safe to wash a keyboard in the dishwasher. The important thing to remember is to not use heat drying, but instead allow the keyboard to dry completely before plugging it back in. I would suggest shaking out most excess water and allowing several days of air drying time.

    Additionally, something that didn't make the list that I do all the time. Those pesky globes on all of you light fixtures! Once a year (at least) I run a load of nothing but those various shaped glass globes. It save tons of ti and does a great job improving the looks of the house and adding that detailed cleaning to my list of accomplishments that day.


  • Anne

    I put pantihose in my dishwasher.

  • Bethanie

    If you think that washing odd items in the dishwasher will leave resedue for the next load, you need a new dishwaher.

  • Jackie

    I have taken the mesh cover from my kitchen exhaust fan and placed it in the dishwasher. Cover is clean and no need to use steel wool to get the grease off. My exhaust fan is built in the range hood. Also in the range hood is a light with a glass cover. I have placed that glass cover in the dishwasher.

  • DAn Craig

    You can wash CHEAP computer keyboards in the dishwasher. There is only a tiny metal spring under the keys and they are subject to rust, but they won't for quite a while. Just shake them around outside to get rid of the excess water. I still have the same keyboard after 8 yrs and I wash it once a year...still works great. Now, if I covered it up after I used it.......

  • robert

    I tried to wash my car in the dishwasher but it wouldn't fit. I ahve heard about computer keyboards before this but putting in potatoes? Now, that's lazy.

  • Dan Craig

    By the way, Gary Meyer, I've been to Wisconsin...saw Bart Starr and the Packers beat the Vikings in 1967 at Lambeau.
    AND I have a SIGNED cheesehead from Brett Favre from 2008.
    I have a friend in Appleton that I go see when I go see my old bass player friend in Burlington...who is originally from Madison!
    And I've seen the boxes that the potatoes are in in the grocery stores in Wisconsin. They are from companies in IDAHO!!!!! hahahahahahahahaha

  • Amber

    I spilled a soda on my keyboard and figured why not try - it was destroyed anyway..... I ran it through the dishwasher (no drying) and then took it out, leaving it upside down for a day or two... Then took one of those air canisters and blew the remaining specks of water out. This is the keyboard I am using now after 3 years :) It worked great!! I wouldnt do it just to clean the keys up due to the time it took but on major messes I would do it again.

  • Bill

    Finally! I used to work in a kitchen for a restaurant in Florida. I came up with the idea to run the potatoes through the commercial dishwasher instead of scrubbing them. Since we cooked so many of potatoes, it saved a great deal of time. The potatoes would always go through the rinse cycle and would actually come out cleaner than using a scrub brush under running water to remove the excess dirt.

  • leslie

    i have taken appart the stroller and baby swing, put in the vents from the air conditioner, all the parts from the refrigerator, all the removable parts from the console in the car and truck, our combs and brushes, our pill cases, the rocks from the fountain (in a plastic basket), the vent from the stove, all the glass globes from the ceiling and wall lights in the house, along with anything that is hard plastic and won't warp or anything fired ceramic. My husband regularly takes apart his coffee machine the blender the food processor and the grill to run them through also, just be sure they are completly dry before plugging them back in. If it can't be put in either the dishwasher or the washing machine what good is it?

  • Teal

    I was looking at All the stuff you can put into the (dish)washer. Hmmmm, how about, a tire at a time, or better still, let me throw in a couple of ,,,,,,name another item......come on!....
    I'm surprise, i haven't read, well i put my poodle in the dishwasher, and it came out fluffy clean.

  • John

    What ever you do, dont put baseball caps in your dishwasher. I did that once on somones recomendation and it ruined my hardwood floors in the kitchen. Soap and water started to leak out of the dishwasher. The first time I thought it was something else that cause it. I tied it again and it did the same thing. Unless you want water all over your floors stay away from it!

  • Mike

    This is the worst advice I ever heard. Your drain systems are not designed to handle that much dirt (soil), hair, grease etc... It may be easy now but you will pay in the long run...

  • john

    Another thing to put in the dishwasher are tooth brushes. If you knew how many germs you have on your tooth brush after a week, you would never use it again!

  • david

    you fools ever think about how much water your wasting cleaning this stuff in a dish washer , not like there is any shortage of water on the planet or anything ,duma--!

  • shelly

    Brushes and combs? Disgusting. How nice to find stray hairs wrapped around your cutlery and dishes. What moron comes up with these ideas? And how lazy can you get?

  • SarahJ

    My suggestions is to get another dishwasher if you want to wash things other than items you will eat and prepare food on. I agree it is too much of a sanitation risk to be washing other items in there. Soon it will be common to have dishwashers in the laundry room or garages for 'other uses'. Although what Sam said about where that dirty water goes does concern me. YET people still do wash these items and the water and grunge goes down the sewer one way or another.
    I love how CLEAN so many items I had for years came out with I first got my dishwasher. All those grooves I tried to individually waste time cleaning...CLEAN now! What a difference.

  • Kevin

    I definitely put the stove parts and knobs in the dishwasher...grease is grease. Refridgerator parts I put in. Also I put the garbage containers and other bath items in there as well. I like the fact that they are sanitized. I will try out the fake flower and air grill suggestions...dont see how it would harm the dishwasher...the dust is hard to get off otherwise.


    Has anyone, who suggested this list of items, checked how the dishwasher sanitizes itself before washing the dishes, etc. ?
    There have been studies done that prove that cleaning your sponges & other dish washing aides DO NOT have the bacteria & germs killed by cleaning them in the imagine eating off dishes after you cleaned the doggy door !! Talk about E-Coli contamination !


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