What Not to Put in the Dishwasher

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My motto when shopping for home goods is, “If it doesn’t go in the dishwasher (or washing machine), it doesn’t go in my house!” Washing dishes is one of my least favorite chores, so I do my absolute best to keep hand wash-only items out of my cabinets.

But despite my efforts, there are still a number of kitchen essentials I end up hand-washing, typically because I didn’t read the fine print when I bought them. (Seriously, who knew box graters shouldn’t go in the dishwasher?)

If you’re guilty of skipping the fine print, too, you might not realize a few core kitchen items are supposed to be hand-washed. To keep your tableware, cookware, and other kitchen accessories in top shape, make sure to keep these 15 things out of the dishwasher:

1. Cast Iron

Hopefully this doesn’t come as a shock, but your cast iron pans should never go in the dishwasher. In fact, you shouldn’t even use soap on them when you can help it. Soaps and abrasive sponges can damage the finish and seasoning of your precious pan, so stick to using coarse salt to scrub it down.

If you do accidentally wash your cast iron pan with soap (my roommates have done this to me before), don’t stress. It’s easy enough to reseason cast iron—you just need to oil it up, and bake it in the oven.

2. Nonstick Pots & Pans

The reason it’s said you should never use metal utensils on nonstick pans is that they can damage the finish, ruining the effectiveness of the nonstick surface. The same thing can happen if your pots and pans get banged around in the dishwasher—the surface can get scratched, shortening its lifespan.

3. Crystal

Crystal glasses are delicate, and the high heat and/or water jets in your dishwasher can cause chips or cracks. Even if they do make it through the cycle, your glasses may develop a cloudy residue over time—so stick to hand-washing crystal and fine wine glasses.

4. Wooden Cutting Boards & Utensils

Wood and dishwashers just don’t mix. The heat of the dishwasher can cause wood to warp, and the drying cycle can make it crack. So please, keep your wooden cutting boards and utensils out of the dishwasher.

5. Insulated Travel Mugs

Most travel mugs have a special vacuum seal between the inner and outer shells, and this seal can be ruined if you put the cup in the dishwasher. Not only will this compromise the effectiveness of your favorite mug, but you may also get water in the walls that sloshes around as you drink.

6. Copper Pans

Copper is prone to tarnishing, and the harsh conditions of the dishwasher can ultimately ruin the shine of your beautiful copper pots and pans. Given that they’re typically quite pricey, I think it’s worth hand-washing to protect your investment.

7. Your Best Knives

Of course you can put your butter knives in the dishwasher, but you might want to think twice about putting good kitchen and prep knives through the cycle. Why? The harsh conditions of the appliance can dull the edges of blades, forcing you to sharpen them more frequently. It can also cause carbon steel and other materials to rust.

8. Graters

There are two reasons to wash graters by hand. First, similar to with knives, the dishwasher can dull graters’ blades. And second, chances are, a dishwasher won’t be able to get all the particles out of their little holes, so you’re better off doing it by hand anyway.

9. Aluminum Pans

Both aluminum cookware and disposable aluminum trays will become discolored when put into the dishwasher, if not sealed in some way. The metal can react with water and air in a process called oxidation, and becomes covered in a dark film that then rubs off on other items.

10. Pressure Cooker Lids

While technically the top of your Instant Pot is dishwasher-safe, it’s not the best cleaning option, as there are a number of important components in the lid of a pressure cooker. For instance, there are values that can get clogged with food particles, as well as seals that may be damaged by the dishwashing chemicals—both of which will shorten the lifespan of your appliance.

11. Milk Glass

The pure white hue of milk glass makes it a treasured collection piece for many, and it’s important to learn how to care for this material properly if you want it to last. Milk glass can take on a yellow tint if put in the dishwasher too many times, so you’ll want to wash it carefully with a gentle cloth and soapy water.

12. Thin Plastic Containers

Unless you know for a fact that a plastic container is dishwasher-safe, I’d recommend scrubbing it down the old-fashioned way. Thin plastic will sometimes melt or warp in the dishwasher, rendering the container useless—a lesson I’ve learned the hard way.

13. Pop-Top Storage Containers

Airtight storage containers are a must-have in any pantry, but when it comes time to clean them, the dishwasher is a gamble. Many say they’re dishwasher-safe, but the gaskets can warp and seals can break down if you wash them frequently.

14. Family Heirlooms

In general, it’s best to leave anything precious that’s missing cleaning instructions out of the dishwasher. This applies to fine china, your grandmother’s favorite mixing bowl, or whatever else you hold near and dear. Don’t risk it getting dinged in the dishwasher!

15. Items with Labels or Adhesives

If you’ve ever put an empty pasta sauce jar through the dishwasher (guilty), you know that the label comes out a torn, soggy mess. Not only will the hot water ruin the label, but the pieces that flake off can clog your dishwasher’s filter, as well.



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