20 Things You Didn’t Think to Put in the Dishwasher (But Should)

Written By Jill Taylor

What can you put in the dishwasher? You may think that it’s all in the name – dishes, obviously – but you might be surprised by some of these common household items that you can also put in there. Here are 20 things you can clean much more quickly and efficiently in the dishwasher.

Makeup Brushes

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The New York Times’ Wirecutter warns that “dirty makeup brushes can cause all sorts of hygiene and health issues, from acne to E. coli infections.” A gentle cycle in the dishwasher with a mild detergent can quickly clean your makeup brushes and keep them safe to use.

Silicone Oven Mitts

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While you might not want to put fabric oven mitts in the dishwasher, silicone oven mitts will come out of it looking as good as new. You can save time by using the dishwasher as long as you place the mitts on the top rack to avoid them getting too hot.

Refrigerator Shelves and Bins

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Sometimes, deep cleaning your refrigerator is necessary, as food waste spills and mold can even build up inside. A gentle cycle in the dishwasher will clean your shelves and bins without the need for scrubbing, giving you more time to sort through your refrigerator contents and clean the insides.

Soap Dishes and Toothbrush Holders

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Ideally, you’d want the things that hold your soap and toothbrushes to be clean and bacteria-free, but cleaning them by hand can be a hassle. The dishwasher will get rid of soap scum from your soap dishes and keep your toothbrush holders hygienic and clean too.

Children’s Toys

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It’s no surprise to any parent to hear that children’s toys can get dirty. Sticky fingers, thrown food, and other nasty substances can make your kids’ toys unhygienic. To keep germs at bay, throw them in a mesh laundry bag and put them in the dishwasher, especially during flu season.


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It might sound bizarre, but flip-flops can benefit from a cycle in the dishwasher. The Spruce advises that “if you have shoes with fabric cording, like Tevas, be sure your dishwasher detergent doesn’t contain bleach.” Aside from that, flip-flops in the dishwasher are an excellent idea!

Kitchen Sponges

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Instead of using your kitchen sponges repeatedly until they’re too dirty and you have to throw them out, you could wash them in the dishwasher. A high-temperature cycle can get rid of bacteria, visible dirt, and grease. But you’ll have to secure them to the rack otherwise, they’ll fly to the bottom.

Vent Covers

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Dust can get really thick on your vent covers when it accumulates over a long period of time. But as long as your covers are made of metal or heat-tolerant plastic, you can put them in the dishwasher instead of scrubbing them by hand. It’s much quicker and more efficient.

Garden Tools

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Garden tools get dirty nearly every time they are used. But non-electric, metal tools don’t have to be painstakingly cleaned by hand. If you use a low or no-heat drying cycle, your garden tools will be cleaned and rust-free, and doing it every time you use them will keep them in good condition.

Ceramic Flower Pots

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Obviously, you won’t be throwing your flower pots into the dishwasher while they have plants in them. However, if you’re changing out your flowers, a dishwasher can help clean out old soil and mineral deposits. You’ll have to use a gentle cycle to avoid cracking the ceramic.

Pet Bowls and Toys

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Pets can be adorable, but they also cause a lot of mess. Their bowls and toys can quickly accumulate germs and bad smells, but if you put them in the dishwasher, you can deep clean them quickly. They may need to be secured to the rack to stop them from tumbling around.

Hard Lunch Boxes

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Lunch boxes can quickly become smelly from leftover food and spills while eating, especially for kids’ lunch boxes. USA Today says that “for hard lunchboxes, most are dishwasher friendly, using the top dishwasher rack.” Make sure to completely empty the lunch box before washing it!


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Like with oven mitts, fabric lampshades don’t belong in the dishwasher. But if you have glass or heat-resistant plastic lampshades, then you can get rid of dust and dirt by putting them in the dishwasher on a gentle cycle. Doing this regularly can make your home brighter and improve your light quality.

Range Hood Filters

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You can put your range hood filter into the dishwasher to efficiently degrease it and remove any food particles that are trapped in it. Putting the filter in the dishwasher around once a month could improve your kitchen’s air quality, especially if you use a degreasing detergent.

Desk Accessories

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Desk organization is a great way to keep your workspace clutter-free, but all those pen holders, plastic containers, and small trash bins can get dirty. Putting them in the dishwasher will efficiently clean them, freeing up your time for more important work and organization. For decorative items, a mild cycle will prevent damage.

Grill Grates

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Grease and food residue can be irritating when they stubbornly cling to grill grates, but a heavy-duty cycle in the dishwasher will get rid of them. Use a strong degreaser to get the best results. You’ll save a lot of time compared to washing by hand and a lot of wrist strain, too!

Baseball Caps

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You might think that putting a baseball cap in the dishwasher is the silliest thing you’ve ever heard, but it’s actually recommended by some top brands. Nike suggests that “if you don’t have time to hand wash your baseball caps, you can toss them in.”

Car Cup Holders

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Some cars have removable cup holders, which you should try to clean regularly. Spills can leave behind sticky reminders of sodas and hot drinks, but a cycle in the dishwasher will keep your car’s cup holders clean and hygienic. They may need to be secured in the dishwasher, or they could be damaged.

Computer Keyboard Caps

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Removable computer keyboard caps are amazing – you can switch out different decorative caps and easily clean your keyboard. But what about the caps themselves? Keep them clean by putting them in a mesh bag on the top rack of the dishwasher and using a low-temperature cycle.

Fishing Gear

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Lastly, any fishing fanatics may be surprised to hear that lots of fishing gear can go in the dishwasher. Lures, hooks, and small nets can be washed on a gentle cycle to remove dirt and saltwater residue, meaning you can maintain your equipment for longer.

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