Starfix - What Not to Load Into Your Dishwasher and Why

What Not to Load Into Your Dishwasher and Why

We’re going to take a shot in the dark and say that hand washing dishes is one of your least favourite household chores. If so, it’s understandable. Family dinners and holiday celebrations can be a little bittersweet if you know you need to wash every single plate, glass, and fork by hand at some point. Thankfully, dishwashers have sped up the post-meal cleanup process considerably, meaning more time spent with our families and less time spent at the kitchen sink.

Because of how common dishwashers have become, it’s easy to take them for granted. However, if you’re not careful you can get yourself into some hot (dish) water by not taking proper care of your dishwasher. There are a few things you can do for general dishwasher maintenance, but this post will focus on one specific aspect: what not to put into your dishwasher. 

It’s tempting to avoid handwashing completely and simply toss everything into your trusty dishwasher. For most of the time, this is no problem—it can handle it. However, there are a few select things that you should never put in your dishwasher, no matter how badly you don’t want to wash it by hand. This is not only for the sake of your kitchen equipment, but also concerns the maintenance of the appliance itself. Some of the most high-risk dishwasher items are:

1. Wooden utensils and cutting boards

Wooden kitchen tools such as spoons and cutting boards are a great thing to have on hand. But when dinner is over, resist the urge to chuck them in the dishwasher and call it a day. The detergent you use in your dishwasher isn’t just regular soap—it’s actually got abrasive properties that help clean your dishes more thoroughly. The downside of this abrasiveness is that it will gradually eat away at any wooden utensil it touches. This can lead to scratches, which can turn into cracks, which can eventually lead to your favourite wooden tool being broken. 

Similarly, you should never put a knife or other utensil with a wooden handle in the dishwasher. The extremely high temperatures can warp the wood, meaning the utensil might not fit properly into the handle. 

2. Cast iron

You might know someone who’s very passionate about their cast-iron cookware. Properly seasoned and maintained, a quality cast-iron pan can be incredibly useful in the kitchen. The non-stick layer built up by ‘seasoning’ the pan with oil will be completely washed away by the dishwasher, rendering the pan useless until it can be reseasoned. Save yourself from a ruined pan and stick to plain water and nonabrasive sponges when cleaning one.

3. Non-stick pots and pans

Although some non-stick cookware is okay to go in the dishwasher, others are not safe to do so. Over time, the abrasive detergent in your dishwasher can wear away on the non-stick coating, causing it to flake away. Not only will this defeat the purpose of a non-stick pan, it could also cause little flakes of teflon to wind up in your food—which is not something you want to be eating. Unless the manufacturer states otherwise, hand wash your non-stick pans.

4. (Some) plastic

While some plastic, such as many tupperware containers, is meant to be dishwasher safe, other plastics may not be able to handle the high heat of the dishwasher. Some plastic containers, as well as certain plastic cups, may warp or even melt in the dishwasher. This will not only ruin the plastic container, but also it could potentially create an issue with your dishwasher when molten plastic winds up somewhere it shouldn’t. Similarly, most single-use plastics like disposable cutlery or takeout containers aren’t meant to be dish washed, so if you want to reuse these, they should be hand washed as well.

5. Kitchen knives

The safest knife is a sharp knife. The less effort you need to put into cutting something, the less likely you are to slip and hurt yourself. Maintain the edge of your knives by hand washing them, as the dishwasher’s detergent will quickly dull the blade. Additionally, the hot water and steam can loosen the handles of your knife, potentially making them useless even after they’ve been resharpened.

6. Knives with hollow handles

Knives with hollow plastic handles are a risk to put in your dishwasher, as these handles are liable to melt during the wash and dry cycle. This could lead to your knife falling apart, either during the dishwasher’s cycle, or, worse, while you’re using it. Keep yourself and your knives safe by hand washing them.

7. Crystal glassware

This fragile material should never be put into the dishwasher. Not only will the abrasive detergent ‘etch’ your crystal over time, making it look scratched and cloudy rather than perfectly clear, but also the dishwashing cycle is often too rough for the delicate glass. If a glass breaks in your dishwasher, it could lead to serious problems with your appliance. For this reason, play it safe and wash your wine glasses by hand.

8. Aluminum cookware

Even if you don’t care about the finish of your aluminum cookware becoming dull and scratched from the dishwasher, you should know that the finish can actually rub off and permanently mark your other dishes. If you insist on dishwashing aluminum cookware, do it as a single load to its own, rather than combining it with your flatware, plates, and glasses.

9. Jars or other containers with removable labels

Paper labels on jars and other containers are likely to be softened and removed by the heat and humidity of your dishwashers. These labels can then get into the drain when the water is emptied from the unit, potentially leading to a difficult-to-fix clog. Avoid a costly repair by removing paper labels before putting the container in the dishwasher. If you’re having a hard time, you can try soaking the container in hot soapy water for a few minutes before removing the label.

10. Dishes with excess food debris

This should go without saying, but your dishwasher isn’t a magic garbage disposal. One of the most common reasons for dishwashers to stop working is because of excess food debris gumming up the internal components. A few crumbs here and there aren’t the end of the world, but your dishwasher is more likely to last if you get all dishes looking almost visibly clean before loading them in.

As you can see, there’s very little a dishwasher can’t do. But it’s very important to avoid loading a few key things into your handy kitchen appliance. With the holidays coming up, keep it simple for yourself and only load what your dishwasher can handle. That way, you can spend more time relaxing and enjoying yourself and less time dealing with post-meal cleanup.

If you have more questions about dishwasher maintenance and best practices, or you need help straight away with a repair to your dishwasher or other home appliance, please don’t hesitate to contact Starfix today!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Starfix and a clickable link back to this page.



Request A Service Call

We never spam, we hate it too.