What Can Be Washed in a Dishwasher- A Complete Guide!

Figuring out what can be washed in a dishwasher can be confusing for most of us, at least in the beginning, when we first purchase the appliance. But, worry not, because we have a complete guide on this subject ready for you!


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What can be washed in a dishwasher?
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Over time, all dishwasher users get a good idea of what to run through a dishwasher as most of the items used daily are generally dishwasher safe. Unfortunately, it takes putting just one wrong thing into the dishwasher to ruin your cookware and realize that you probably didn't know it all. 

We’ve faced these kinds of situations and ended up with warped, bent and even rusted utensils. But now, after washing a mind-boggling number of dishes of all kinds in the dishwasher, we have been able to decipher which ones are dishwasher safe and which ones are not. Read through this complete guide and arm yourself with knowledge to keep your vessels undamaged.

How to Know if an Item is Dishwasher Safe?

There is no universally approved symbol for manufacturers to put on utensils and glassware to show they are dishwasher safe. Different manufacturers have their own customized symbols. However, there are some look alike dishwasher safe symbols used by top manufacturers of dishwasher safe kitchenware. These primarily include the following: 

  • Dishwasher safe, top rack only

  • Dishwasher safe

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Some dishes might not have the icon, but instead have a label which has ‘dishwasher safe’ written on it. 

If an item is marked as 'top rack only', it signifies that it can be used in the top rack of the dishwasher alone. 

You may wonder why they are marked as 'top rack only'.

This is because the heating element in dishwashers is typically at the bottom of the machine, making the top rack comparatively cooler than the bottom rack. So, if you end up putting a dish marked as ‘top rack only’ in the lower rack, you may end up with a discoloured, warped, or badly damaged dish once the wash cycle is over.

What Does ‘Dishwasher Safe’ Mean? 

An item is marked as dishwasher safe if they have been treated during their production process to ensure they can withstand exposure to prolonged high temperatures, wash sprays and detergents involved in a dishwasher cycle.

Can You Put China in the Dishwasher?

Surprisingly most porcelain and china dishware are dishwasher safe. But, it's best to steer clear of the dishwasher if the china  has a metal trim, is antique or hand-painted. We have seen that the high water pressure, abrasion from detergents or high temperatures can cause fading or breakage.

Before you place your china in the dishwasher, we suggest checking for 'dishwasher safe' markings on its bottom side. Also, a few precautionary measures like the ones given below will ensure they come out unscathed:

  • Space the china pieces far enough so that they don’t end up touching each other

  • Opt for the short wash, china wash or the gentlest cycle possible

  • Always select a water temperature setting of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are not sure how hot your dishwasher gets during each cycle, consult the manufacturer's manual for its temperature ranges

  • Always use a gentle dishwasher detergent that is not harsh on delicate kitchenware. We decided to try Vim Matic All In One Dishwasher Tablets for washing dishes in the dishwasher. It’s likely because of its unique powerful formulation that it could remove all kinds of food stains and tough grease from the utensils.

Each tablet comes with the benefits of a detergent, rinsing aid and salt, making it an extremely handy option for us as we no longer have to juggle with multiple products for our dishwasher use. All we need is one tablet to get a load of sparkling dishes

What we also liked about Vim Matic All in One Dishwasher Tablets was that it did not leave any watermarks on our precious china and cleaned them gently

  • Allow the dishware to cool to room temperature before handling them, as the trim and detailing could be fragile when hot

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Can You Put Plastic in the Dishwasher?

Plastic comes in all shapes and sizes and is found everywhere in our kitchens. We have seen that the best way to determine whether a plastic item is safe to put in a dishwasher or not is to check its labelling. Those labelled as dishwasher safe can withstand high heat and the cleansing action of detergents during the wash cycle.

These include reusable plastics and tableware and cutlery.

  • Reusable Plastics: If a plastic dish is marked as reusable, it should be safe to wash in a dishwasher, preferably on the top rack. It is advisable to avoid deep clean cycles for them 

  • Tableware and Cutlery: Outdoor plates, cutlery, baby bottles, chopping boards and acrylic glasses are generally made of dishwasher-safe plastic. But still, care must be taken to wash them at low temperatures as high heat may cause damage to them

 What About Disposable Plastic?

Utensils made out of disposable plastic are not dishwasher safe as they will warp and bend due to the high heat environment in the appliance. This plastic also contains an ingredient, BPA or BPA alternatives that can damage health if the food in such containers is consumed.

Can You Put Stainless Steel in the Dishwasher?

Did you know that stainless steel is an alloy made of iron and chromium? The good news is that this alloy forms an inert surface film of chromium oxide that protects the underlying metal from corrosion. Thus, most stainless steel items like bowls, spoons, pots, pans etc., are mostly dishwasher proof and rustproof. 

Can You Put Cast Iron, Non-stick or Copper Pots and Pans in the Dishwasher?

Unless labelled as dishwasher safe, none of these items must be washed in the dishwasher. We’ve experienced that when non-stick cookware is put into a dishwasher, the dishwashing process can break down its coating over time, causing it to flake off during the cooking process and destroy its non-stick finish. 

Unlike non-stick, cast iron pans need to be seasoned to attain a non-stick finish after a time. Placing them in the dishwasher will strip away the seasoning, leaving them vulnerable to rust.

Copper pots and pans, on the other hand, can turn black due to an oxidation process in the dishwasher. Hence it's best to clean them by hand.

Can You Put Wine Glasses or Crystal Ware in the Dishwasher?

When it comes to wine glasses, they are dishwasher safe. However, to ensure a smooth wash cycle, one must use a delicate wash cycle, skip the heated drying cycle and space the glasses, so they don't hit each other and chip or break.

GST Tip- Did you know that red wine can leave stains on the glass if left overnight? Hence, we suggest you at least rinse the glasses immediately, even if you’re not putting them in the dishwasher right away.

When it comes to delicate glassware, crystal, hand blown and painted glasses or milk glasses, it's best to hand wash them. Hand washing helps avoid breakage, yellowing or etching, which appears due to cloudiness or pitting due to washing in the dishwasher.

Also Read:Is Your Crockery Turning Yellow? Show it Some TLC

Can you Put Glass or Stoneware Baking Dishes in the Dishwasher?

Yes, most glass baking dishes are safe to put in the dishwasher, but we suggest checking the manufacturer's manual, just to be sure. 

However, when it comes to stoneware, we suggest doing the complete opposite. It's best to clean stoneware with clean hot water and a nylon scraper. Keep them away from the dishwasher and dishwashing detergent as it can cause the food you cook to taste like soap. Here are some tips to choose the best dishwasher detergent for spotless utensils.

We hope this complete guide will help you decide which dishes can or cannot be washed in the dishwasher.


Can you put knives in the dishwasher?

Avoid placing sharp knives in the dishwasher as they could get nicked or become dull. We have also seen that knives can damage the dishwasher racks.

Can you put wood in the dishwasher?

We have noticed that the dishwasher's high heat and humidity environment can cause wooden cutting boards or utensils with wooden handles to warp, swell or crack. Hence it's best to stick to hand washing them.

Can you put silicone utensils in the dishwasher?

Most silicon utensils are dishwasher safe. If your dishwasher has a third rack, you can place them there instead of the silverware basket.

Can you put pressure cooker lids in the dishwasher?

Never wash pressure cooker lids in the dishwasher as small food particles or dishwasher detergent can lodge into their safety valves.

Can you put acrylic or melamine dishes in the dishwasher?

The high water and drying temperatures and harsh dishwasher detergents can ruin these dishes. Several washings in the dishwasher can result in hairline cracks and loss of colour and design.

Originally published