Not all kitchenware is meant to stand up to the high heat of your beloved dishwasher.

Lauren Wicks
November 22, 2019

While you may have heard crazy stories of people using their dishwashers to do everything from clean their shoes to cook a steak, the dishwasher isn't made to do any more than what its namesake says. Unfortunately not all dishes are created equal, so some of your dinnerware and kitchen tools should never wind up in your dishwasher.

We've rounded up a list of common kitchen items that are better off cleaned by hand—and some of them may surprise you. As a relatively new member of the "adult world," I am guilty of dishwashing most of the things on this list and have learned the hard way about what does—and doesn't—belong in your dishwasher.

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Related: Do You Really Need to Clean Your Dishwasher?

Sharp Knives

Routinely tossing your nice knives in the dishwasher could actually be shortening their lifespan. One of our test kitchen staffers says she only hand-washes her knives because the dishwasher can be too abrasive. Additionally, rubbing against other cutlery in the utensil basket can cause even the sharpest knives to dull.

Wooden Utensils

I once washed a brand-new, beautiful set of wooden utensils in the dishwasher, only to find them looking warped and washed out afterwards. The dishwasher's high temperatures can be too much for wooden kitchen items, and you're better of washing them yourself to keep their coating and shape intact.

Insulated Mugs

Insulated mugs can fall victim to some serious coffee stains if you forget about them for a few days (or more), and you'll have to pay the price with a little hand-washing. Contigo, a popular producer of reusable drinkware, shares that while their unpainted products and lids are dishwasher safe, you're better off using some dishwasher soap and a cleaning brush to get your mug squeaky clean. Hand-washing is better for your stainless steel mug anyways and will ensure you can get the deep clean you want.

Related: Your Keurig Coffee Maker Can Grow Mold—Here's the Best Way to Clean It

Certain Plastic Containers

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises hand-washing your plastic container to limit the exposure your family receives from potentially harmful chemicals. This is because harmful chemicals can start to leach from them when facing high temperatures.

If you do happen to have dishwasher-safe and BPA-free plastic containers, be sure to place them away from the heating element of your dishwasher. You may also want to avoid the "sanitize" cycle, since that's when the dishwasher reaches its highest temperatures.

Cast-Iron Cookware

Our cast-iron pans are a little too precious to be haphazardly tossed in the dishwasher. What makes cast-iron cookware so great is the seasoning that builds up on it over time, and that can all be stripped away with some intense dishwasher sudsing. Check out or cast-iron cleaning and seasoning tips, here, to keep yours in tip-top shape.

Non-Stick Cookware

Much of today's non-stick cookware says "dishwasher safe" on the label, but that's not necessarily true. According to one of our test kitchen pros, non-stick cookware will lose its special coating over time with some high-heat trips to the dishwasher, so you're better off scrubbing by hand.

Related: 10 Common Kitchen-Cleaning Mistakes You're (Probably) Making

Graters and Colanders

Your grater or colander may not be damaged by the intense clean of your dishwasher, but the dishwasher won't get off that Parmesan residue as well as you will with a scrub brush. Save yourself time and just clean it by hand.

Aluminum Baking Sheets and Pans

Aluminum won't react well to your dishwasher's high temperatures, which can cause discoloration. Sure, the pans are still usable, but they certainly aren't as pretty. If you don't want to take the time to hand-wash your baking pans, you may want to invest in some silicone options.

Fine China

A good deal of fine china is hand-wash only, which is why your mom likely only brought it out on very special occasions. Appliance brand GE says any "antique, metal trimmed, hand painted china or over-the-glaze patterns are vulnerable to fading with high water temperature and detergent solutions, and therefore should not be washed in a dishwasher." Turn your china-washing into a party with a loved one and blast some music or catch up over suds.

Related: Seven Surprising Things You Can Wash in the Dishwasher

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