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How to load your dishwasher after a barbecue

Save yourself from scrubbing with our round-up of what can and can’t go in

Summer barbecues mean more cooked-on grease on your grill and utensils, plus extra plates and glasses if you’re having a party.

The good news is that you don’t have to wash up all those extras by hand. Most of them can go in your dishwasher – including your barbecue grill, if you check what it’s made from first.

See our round-up of the best dishwashers for getting rid of baked-on grease.

Or follow these steps to make your dishwasher do as much of the hard work as possible after your summer barbecue:

Step one: Separate out your most greasy items for the first wash. Check whether your barbecue’s grill is dishwasher safe, and whether it can fit in your dishwasher (see below).

Step two: Use an intensive wash to make sure the serving bowls, spatulas, prongs and grubby pans stand the best chance of getting clean. A quick rinse of anything extra grubby will stop your dishwasher pipes getting clogged up with greasy gunk.

Step three: Save glasses for a second, gentle wash. Depending on your dishwasher, you can even wash wine glasses, gin globes and champagne flutes in it.

What can and can’t go in the dishwasher?

You can cut down on washing up by sticking stainless steel spatulas and prongs in your dishwasher. Some plastic ones can go in, too.

If your dishwasher has a low-temperature delicate program, you can also put in wine glasses, gin globes, and champagne flutes.

Large plastic or glass serving bowls can go in, too. To give them the best chance of getting clean, make sure they’re face down and at an angle.

Wood, whether it’s spoons or chopping boards, can’t go in your dishwasher. The heat will cause it to split and splinter.

While you can put kitchen knives in your dishwasher, it dulls them. You’re better off cleaning them by hand.

Non-stick pots and pans might be labelled as dishwasher safe, but the non-stick coating can deteriorate in the high heat of the drying stage of each wash.

Insulated pitchers or reusable water bottles that keep your drinks cool will need washing by hand. The high temperature of a dishwasher could damage the vacuum seal.

Can your barbecue grill go in the dishwasher?

You should never put cast-iron barbecue grills in the dishwasher. The seasoning – the protective, non-stick layer of baked-on oil – will be washed away, and the iron beneath will rust.

This goes for enamelled cast iron, too; over time the dishwasher could wear away the enamel coating.

If your barbecue grill is aluminium, check to see if it’s been anodised – ie if it has a protective layer of oxide. If it hasn’t, the harsh detergent can cause it to turn black. Finding out should be as simple as checking the manual or manufacturer’s website.

Chrome plated and stainless steel grills can go in the dishwasher.

Don’t worry if you’ve read horror stories about these corroding or becoming tarnished in the dishwasher. The worst that will happen is the heat could cause the grill to develop some rainbow sheen in places. This isn’t a problem, though, as it’s only an aesthetic issue, and doesn’t affect cooking.

You can get rid of the rainbow stain by soaking the stainless steel in a solution of diluted white vinegar and warm water for a minute or two, and rinsing clean.

Summer dishwashing tips

Cook off nasty grease

Leave your barbecue grill over the hot coals or flames for a bit after you’ve removed the food. This will allow the grease to burn off.

You don’t want this grease in your dishwasher, as it could end up blocking the filters or drains.

It’s best to collect any excess to be disposed of separately.

How to wash wine glasses and gin globes

Wash delicate glasses in the top rack, using a gentle program.

As they’ll come out dry (as long as you have a decent dishwasher), you won’t have to worry about rubbing them gingerly with a tea towel once you’ve had a few G&Ts, or leaving them lined up precariously on your drainer.

If your dishwasher doesn’t have a delicate or glassware program, we’d recommend leaving out your crystal and china, and washing those by hand.

See all our reviews of dishwashers that have a delicates program.

Mix it up

Leaving spaces between dishes and cutlery allows the water and detergent to spread around.

You could even try alternating between larger and smaller plates next to each other to help with this.

Face the middle

The dirty side of every item should face the centre of the dishwasher rack.

The jet spray from the dishwasher arms comes out like a garden sprinkler, so make sure it won’t be blocked, or facing away.


Discover all our dishwasher stacking tips.


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