5 Ways to Use Your Dishwasher

If you've seen directions for using a dishwasher to cook fish or boil potatoes, you may not want to try them out just to find out how well⎯or if⎯they work. That caution needn't stop you from pressing your dishwasher into service to clean some things that have nothing to do with your kitchen, and a few kitchen items that have little to do with food. Its versatility can help you tidy up more household odds and ends than you'd expect.

Something Including a Hat Rack

If you’re looking to wash ball caps, they can go in the top rack of your dishwasher and emerge fresh. Placed in a clothes washer, the same gear comes out with a misshapen bill. Along with the hat collection, include mouth guards, visors and sports gear in your wash load, excluding leather and wooden items. If you’re looking to wash ball caps, they can go in the top rack of your dishwasher and emerge fresh.

Toy Trouble

Whether the chew toys around your house belong to a cat, a dog or a child, they accrue enough dirt to deserve a cleanup—and your dishwasher can do the trick more thoroughly than hand washing can. Skip the painted figurines, dolls with rooted hair, hollow toys with noisemakers and talking action figures, as these can't tolerate thorough exposure to hot water. To fill out a load with alternate items besides toys, add in your pets' food and water bowls.

Parts & Hardware

Cleaning up cabinet hardware⎯modern metal and ceramic items, not antique, wooden or painted⎯takes less elbow grease when you delegate the chore to your dishwasher. Tuck small items in a lidded basket designed for flatware, holding them secure so they won't escape. Even if your dishwasher uses covered heating elements, you don't want projectiles flying around its interior. Add in metal tools, the removable globes from light fixtures and the bins and racks from other appliances.

Cleaning the Cleaners

The kitchen scrub brushes, pads and sponges you use for cleaning food and dishes pick up a wide range of mystery grunge that disappears courtesy of a trip through the dishwasher, giving new life to items you otherwise might consider tossing. You also can clean plastic-handled hairbrushes, provided they don't use glued-in bristles, and even toothbrushes. Use your dishwasher's sanitize cycle so its extra-hot water kills bacteria.

Fantastic Footwear

A top-rack trip through the dishwasher cleans up rain boots⎯with their cloth liners removed for safekeeping⎯along with a family-sized batch of flip-flops, plastic sandals and shoe-covering rain guards. Verify the heat sensitivity of your footwear before you load it up, and avoid any items with fabric inserts, painted trim, sequins, leather, beads or rhinestones. If you're concerned about mixing saucers and sandals, consider running the dishwasher once without dishes before you return it to its regular duties.

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