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What should you put in the dishwasher?

Here's what you can and can't put in the dishwasher.

saucepan and cast iron things you can and cant put in the dishwasher
Last updated: 02 May 2024

The humble dishwasher is arguably the most effective kitchen device you could own, but you can't just chuck any old thing in there.

Here's a guide to what you can and can't safely wash in your dishwasher so you never have to wonder again whether your great-aunt's silver-plated teaspoons will survive the cycle (Hot tip: you're better off handwashing them if you want them to stay silver).

Dishwasher safe symbols explained

Dishwasher safe image

Unlike care labels on clothes, there's no universally agreed-upon set of symbols to indicate whether something is dishwasher safe, so you may need to do a little detective work to find out if something can go in the dishwasher or not. 

The images above are some commonly used dishwasher-safe symbols that you might come across on your crockery or containers.

They're not the only ones out there, but they're all generally variations on a theme, so look for a picture of plates and/or glasses under drops of water or a shower.

There's no official definition of what 'dishwasher safe' really means

Just to make things even more confusing, there's no official definition of what 'dishwasher safe' really means. Manufacturers all have their own definitions and processes for determining whether something can be put in the dishwasher.

Bear in mind, too, that some items that are labelled 'dishwasher safe' can still degrade when washed in the dishwasher over long periods of time – they'll just take longer to deteriorate than products that aren't dishwasher safe.

Top rack 1

Dishwasher safe – top rack only

Items on the bottom rack of the dishwasher sit just above the heating element, which means that they're subjected to more heat than those on the top rack.

For plastic and glass, the top rack is a better option as it's a lower temperature and less intense washing action.

Dishwasher safe glass 1

Dishwasher safe glassware

Glass can be fragile and prone to breakage, so the dishwasher isn't always the safest place for delicate glassware. Plus, the harsh chemicals in dishwasher detergent can cause haziness.

The dishwasher safe glassware symbol means an item will stand up to the rigours of the dishwasher. 

not dishwasher safe combined 2

A dishwasher safe icon with a line through it means the item cannot be safely washed in the dishwasher.

An illustration of a hand in a bucket of water, in the context of cutlery and crockery, means the item should be washed by hand.

Can I wash it in the dishwasher?

CHOICE kitchen experts weigh in on whether or not the following items can be washed in a dishwasher.

stacking plates in dishwasher

Everyday tableware should be fine in the dishwasher, but delicate glasses and sharp knives should be washed by hand.

Crockery, cutlery and tableware

It's tempting to chuck every single thing in the dishwasher to save on handwashing, but unfortunately there are some items that won't fare well in the dishwasher.

We'll explain which ones are safe to go in the dishwasher and which you will need to wash by hand if you want to keep them in good condition.

Everyday tableware

Dishwashers are great for pretty much all everyday plates, cups and cutlery, so given the time and water savings of a dishwasher, racking your plates in one instead of stacking them by the sink is a no-brainer.

And because your dirty plates are out of sight, you can wait a couple of days till the machine's full before you run it for even more savings.

Can you put wine glasses in the dishwasher?

Fragile glassware can scratch or break easily. So if you value your stemware then wash it by hand instead. (And just to be on the safe side and avoid breakages, maybe wash them the next morning if you've had a few glasses too many.)

Even durable drinking glasses can fall foul of the dishwasher and develop a white haze over time. Alkaline detergents slowly dissolve the glass itself (silicate filming and etching), leave tiny crystal formations (devitrification), and abrasives in the detergent can physically scour your glass (this gets worse with cheaper powder detergents).

If you're washing in hard water then you may even find cloudy calcium deposits on your glass, though unlike other causes of hazing, this can be removed.

All that said, some manufacturers are going to great lengths to ensure their dishwashers are safe for delicate stemware, and some also include special racks to hold wine glasses safely, so we're definitely seeing improvements in this area.

CHOICE tip:& If your wine glasses have lingering red wine stains, use denture cleaner to remove them.

Can you put lead crystal in the dishwasher?

Leave your nan's lead crystal glassware in the display cabinet next to the teaspoons, because your dishwasher's high temperature and alkaline detergent can convert the lead into a soluble form which can be ingested next time you're enjoying a refreshing crème de menthe.

Can you put sharp knives in the dishwasher?

Dishwasher-wise, your good knives don't make the cut – carbon steel corrodes rapidly in your dishwasher's harsh, alkaline environment, and bouncing around with other items will dull carefully honed cutting edges. 

Plus, emptying the dishwasher is a far riskier proposition with a 12" lobster-splitter somewhere inside.

Crockery, cutlery and glassware
Item Dishwasher? Expert comments
Bone-handled cutlery No The dishwasher will corrode the bone.

Ceramic knives

No Dishwashing will dull the blade, and you could cut yourself emptying the dishwasher.
Chef's knives or sharp knives No Carbon steel knives will corrode in the dishwasher, and will lose their sharpness bumping against other items. The presence of sharp knives also makes emptying the dishwasher dangerous.
Coffee plungers Yes You may want to disassemble and wash the components separately.
Fine china No The dishwasher can damage hand-painted details, or chip delicate edges.
Hand-painted ceramics No The paint will dull and fade and delicate ceramics can chip.
Lead crystal No Can leach the lead out of the crystal.
Mason jar lids Yes May shorten the life of the jar lid by corroding the plastic.
Pewter No Pewter has a very low melting point so could warp in the dishwasher.
Plastic plates Yes Top shelf only.
Plastics It depends If it's not marked 'dishwasher safe', don't put it in the dishwasher. Dishwasher-safe plastics should go on the top rack to prevent them being melted by the heating element.
Silver cutlery No Silver can discolour in the dishwasher.

Wine glasses

It depends You can, but washing in the dishwasher will lead to etching and irreversible clouding on glassware over time. Denture cleaner will remove red wine stains.


Don't want to scrub that dirty baking dish? Fair enough. But before you put it in the dishwasher and cross your fingers that it'll be fine, give this list a quick scan to make sure it will survive.

Can you put pots and pans in the dishwasher?

Modern dishwashers do a surprisingly good job cleaning even heavily soiled stainless steel pots and pans and ceramic baking dishes. Combined with a good quality detergent, your dishwasher may clean away burned-on cheese and food particles that would pose a challenge when washing by hand.

Many dishwashers also have foldable or removable tines to make it easier to fit bulky pots, and some even have an intensive zone, designed specifically to give cookware an extra-thorough going over.

However, you should still handwash non-stick, cast-iron, copper and fine aluminium cookware because they can be damaged by the dishwasher.

Can you put non-stick cookware in the dishwasher?

Non-stick coatings will deteriorate rapidly in your dishwasher – follow the manufacturer's cleaning instructions to extend their life. (And maybe ask yourself if they're really non-stick, why is there anything to wash off in the first place?).

Can you put cast-iron in the dishwasher?

Your dishwasher won't damage the cast-iron itself, but it will strip off the layers of precious seasoning that protect your pan from rust and make it virtually non-stick.

But your skillet shouldn't go near the sink either – just wipe it out with paper towel to clean it, and remove stubborn cooking remnants with salt and elbow grease.

Item Dishwasher? Expert comments
Aluminium No Annodised aluminium can be damaged and discolour in your dishwasher.
Baking cookware It depends Stainless steel is fine. Don't put aluminium or non-stick bakeware in the dishwasher.
Brass or any soft alloys No These can warp, bend or discolour.
Cake tins It depends Many cake tins are dishwasher safe, but springform pans aren't. Some may need soaking or light scrubbing, but don't use abrasive cleaners.
Cast-iron No The dishwasher won't hurt the pan at all, but it will strip its precious seasoning. And if the cast-iron stays wet for any length of time, it will rust.
Ceramic baking dishes Yes A dishwasher (bottom rack) makes cleaning baked-on residue easy.
Copper cookware No These can warp, bend or discolour.
Enamel-coated cast iron cookware No Putting your enamel coated cast-iron pot in the dishwasher causes the rim of the pot and lid to rust, dulls the enamel surface and removes the pot's non-stick capabilities. It can also weaken the lid screws.
Enamelware Yes Using the dishwasher removes any baked-on residue easily, but they're easy to clean by hand otherwise.
Non-stick pans No Damages the delicate non-stick coating.
Pizza stone No Pizza stones should be kept as dry as possible – don't immerse in water.
Silicon bakeware Yes

Springform pans

No Putting them in the dishwasher can cause rust.

Stainless steel

Yes Stainless steel pots with heat-resistant plastic handles are fine, but only clean in the dishwasher occasionally as the detergent can weaken the coating.

Appliance parts

Can you put your Thermomix parts or air fryer baskets in the dishwasher? Check the table below to find out.

Appliance parts
Item Dishwasher? Expert comments
Air fryer parts It depends Most parts are dishwasher safe, but should be cleaned by hand if they have a non-stick coating

BBQ hotplate

No It's best to just wipe food particles and excess oils from the hotplate. You actually need the oil from the previous cook to protect the hotplate from rust.
Blender parts No We suggest washing these by hand. Some jugs are dishwasher safe, but may not fit in your dishwasher.
Exhaust fan filters and covers Yes
Food processor parts No Manufacturers say some parts can go in the dishwasher but our kitchen experts don't recommend it as the dishwasher can weaken and discolour areas of the plastic.
Hand mixer attachments It depends Check the manual first to see if they're dishwasher safe, as not all of them are.
Juicer parts It depends Centrifugal (fast) juicers often have dishwasher-safe parts, but cold press (slow) juicers normally don't.
Oven racks Yes Make sure they don't interfere with the operation of the machine.
Pressure cooker lids No Small particles of food can get stuck in the pressure valves.
Stove burners It depends Can be heavy and bulky so could interfere with the operation of the spray arms, or bend the dishwasher racks. Use caution.
Thermomix parts It depends Stainless steel jugs/bowls can be cleaned in the dishwasher with the blade removed. If they have plastic handles, double-check that they're heat-resistant first.
Trivets from gas cooktops It depends Can be heavy and bulky so could interfere with the operation of the spray arms, or bend the dishwasher racks. Use caution.

Baby and kids' items

Let's face it: kids can be messy. Can a dishwasher help make cleaning up easier?


A hot dishwasher can warp or damage some plastics, and squeezing plastic items into small spaces may also cause warping – so while you can put them in the dishwasher, they should go on the top shelf.

Plastics also have a low thermal mass, so they don't dry especially well in your dishwasher.

Babies and kids' items
Item Dishwasher? Expert comments
Baby bottles Yes Wash on the top shelf. Depending on your baby's age, you may still need to use a steriliser.
Bath toys Yes Wash on the top shelf. Don't put squeaky toys or anything with batteries in the dishwasher.
Breast pump parts Yes Wash on the top shelf. Don't put anything electronic or battery-operated in the dishwasher. See baby bottles.
Dummies and teething rings Yes Don't expect them to be sterilised. See baby bottles.
Lego and other plastic building blocks Yes Put in a mesh bag on the top shelf so small pieces don't get lost.
Lunchboxes It depends Check for any dishwasher safe symbols.
Plastic toys It depends Don't wash squeaky toys – they'll fill up with water. Top shelf only. Put small pieces in a mesh bag so they don't get lost.
kitchen sponges stacked colourful

Washing your sponges in the dishwasher is a great way to give them a new lease on life.

Household items

Housework can feel like a neverending task, so of course you'll want to find hacks to reduce the amount of work you need to do.

But is the dishwasher the answer? Not necessarily.

Can you put kitchen sponges in the dishwasher?

Sponges and scourers can get caked up with food particles pretty quickly, which means they're a hive for bacteria.

Washing this handheld bacteria nest in the kitchen sink won't cut it from a hygiene perspective (that's where the bacteria came from in the first place), but rather than relegating your manky kitchen sponge to landfill and buying a new one, you can give it a new lease on life by running it through your dishwasher to leave it sanitised, refreshed and probably smelling better, ready to scrub for another day.

Can you put silver, pewter, aluminium, brass or copper in the dishwasher?

Sterling silver, pewter, aluminium, brass and copper will discolour in your dishwasher, and light aluminium items can also mark other items as they bump around during the wash cycle. Pewter can even warp due to its low melting point.

Can you put hand-painted ceramics in the dishwasher?

Glossy, gold-coloured or hand-painted items will dull and fade in your dishwasher, and fragile items can be damaged by bouncing against other items or even by thermal stress.

Can you put wood in the dishwasher?

The glue that binds hollow-handle knives, wooden cutting boards or other laminates will melt or soften in a dishwasher, and high temperatures and moisture damage wood, so handwash wooden items instead.

Other contaminants

Items contaminated with wax, cigarette ash, poisons, mineral oils, wet paints and oiled tools should never go in your dishwasher, as contaminants can be left behind and redeposited on future loads.

Likewise, objects contaminated by solvents or flammable liquids could explode in a dishwasher, so (carefully) handwash them instead.

Household items
Item Dishwasher? Expert comments
Ashtrays No The ash particles can clog up the dishwasher.

Beeswax wraps

Clothes No The alkaline detergent could reduce the life of fabrics, and having clothes flop around in the dishwasher could interfere with its action.
Dog toys It depends Don't put squeaky toys in the dishwasher as they'll fill up with water. Other hard toys are fine.
Flip flops/thongs Yes Rubber/plastic thongs only.
Hairbrushes and combs Yes Don't put combs or brushes with wooden handles in the dishwasher.
Keys It depends Don't wash electronic keys! Regular metal keys are fine (but why though?).
Kitchen sponges Yes Disinfects and removes odours.
Makeup brushes It depends Plastic- or metal-handled brushes only. See wood.
Manicure and pedicure tools It depends Metal and plastic only – no wood.
Pet food bowls Yes
Shower sponges and poufs Yes Disinfects and removes odours.
Silicon food covers Yes, but only at low temps
Soap dishes It depends Only if dishwasher-safe plastic, glass or ceramic. Handwash timber or other materials.
Thermos No The heat of the dishwasher may shorten its life. Best to wash by hand.
Tools No The alkaline dishwasher detergent could promote corrosion.
Toothbrush holders It depends Only if dishwasher-safe plastic, glass or ceramic. Handwash timber or other materials.
Vases It depends Check what it's made of first. Lead crystal, delicate glass, hand-painted china, brass, pewter, copper and sterling silver shouldn't go in the dishwasher. And use the top rack for everything but the heaviest pieces.
Water bottles It depends Only if the bottle is dishwasher safe. However, any damage done to the bottle can create crevices that may harbour bacteria. If washing by hand, remove all the parts and wash them in piping-hot soapy water.
Wood No Includes wooden spoons, bowls, chopping boards and wooden-handled knives. Wash by hand only.
We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.