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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!

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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.

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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!).

  • Pam

    Yes, we do cook our salmon in the dishwasher. Just wrap it well in foil with whatever marinade. Make sure it is well sealed. Run an entire cycle, including dry. (Of course, do NOT add soap.) The salmon will be steamed perfectly, very moist and delicious with no smell in the kitchen at all. We have never tried other fishes or chicken, but it should work with any protein that you could steam-cook.

  • Barb

    Cleans bowling balls. But put finger holes down towards bottom.

  • Mama

    We have been hand washing our computer keyboards for years. A lot of gunk gets in there and spray air doesn't get the gooey stuff out. My kids eat at the computer and there's the gray gunk from the air. I finally got my cup holder out of the van and put it in the dishwasher. GROSS!! I put the dog's bowls in there and the plastic bins from the shower. I wash the bins without other food items in the dishwasher. Soap dishes go in the dishwasher, too.

  • Matt Sutt

    I think someone needs to put their HEAD in the dishwasher !!!!

  • ya big 'mo

    I once helped a friend move out of his apartment. His kitchen sink was filled with dirty dishes and dish water that stank like sewage. No one wanted to stick their hand in the putrid water to remove the stopper so we just left the clean up to the next guy. Taking another look I noticed mosquito larvae swimming near the surface.

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