We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.


When you click on a retailer link on our site, we may earn affiliate commission to help fund our not-for-profit mission.Find out more.

20 Nov 2019

Nine surprising things that can go in the dishwasher

From make-up brushes to vacuum cleaner attachments, find out how you can use your dishwasher to clean more than you might think

You know you can use your dishwasher for plates, pans and cutlery. And you've probably even read about how to cook a salmon in a dishwasher.

But there are plenty of other things you can wash in there that you might not know about.

Here are our top picks:

See our round up of the best dishwashers.

1. Make-up brushes

Use an eco or low-temperature delicate wash - a hot wash could damage them.

Position them in the top rack with your glasses and mugs. The water pressure and temperature is lower up there, so will better protect the bristles.

2. Potatoes and carrots

A dishwasher's pre-rinse program can clean a large amount of veg using a surprisingly small amount of water - around the amount of a washing-up bowl or less, at 3 to 4.5 litres. It shouldn't take long either, ranging between five and 15 minutes.

Of course it's not worth using your dishwasher if you're only cleaning a handful. But if you're preparing a large meal, such as Christmas dinner, getting all your veg clean in one go can be useful. This can be used for all sorts of vegetables, including parsnips, swede and beetroot.

If you pick a regular cleaning program by accident you could start cooking your veg in the dishwasher, so make sure you hit the correct button!

3. Plastic baby toys, bottles, dummies, cutlery and dishes

Many baby items can be cleaned in the dishwasher. Some models even come with high-heat programs specifically for this, often called 'Hygiene' or 'Baby Protect'. In some dishwashers, these combine an intensive wash with a rinse that includes a burst of higher temperature of up to 70°C. In others it can just be the higher-temperature short-burst rinse finishing off a normal program.

These programs are often promoted as leaving dishes germ-free or sterilised.

Some dishwashers even come with accessories for baby items. On selected Indesit dishwashers, for example, there is a colourful 'Baby Zoo' basket that goes in the top rack for plastic baby and children items. Bosch also sells baby bottle clips to keep small bottle parts secure during the wash, so they don't go flying around due to the water jets.

4. Toothbrush holders and soap trays

The bottom of a toothbrush holder or soap tray can be a sorry sight, where bacteria can grow and fester in hard-to-reach crevices.

Using a dishwasher will rid you of this fiddly cleaning job as it more easily removes the grime and slime.

5. Plastic hairbrushes and combs

It can be nice to occasionally freshen up your combs or brushes, particularly those you may use in the shower to comb in hair conditioner or apply hair masks. Sticking them in the dishwasher can help remove the build-up of different hair products between the bristles, as well as general dirt.

Make sure you remove the hair first, though, as it will just tangle up and clog the filter - an extra job you don't want to be dealing with.

6. Vacuum cleaner attachments

Dust-filled attachments can make your vacuum cleaner not work as well as it used to. Cleaning these can reinvigorate your vacuum, but it's often pretty tricky and messy to do by hand.

With the non-electrical attachments, you can use a dishwasher to shift built-up dust and dirt. You might also be able to remove the top rack of your dishwasher to get larger parts, such as a tall dust collection bin, to fit in.

We'd recommend you use a lower temperature or quick wash and less detergent than you would for a regular load, as the high heat could warp the plastic, and as a super-thorough clean shouldn't be necessary.

7. Refrigerator shelves and drawers

Thoroughly cleaning and drying your fridge's shelves and drawers is a real chore. They're big and unwieldy, but if you can squeeze them into your dishwasher, you could save yourself from this job.

You will want to use a slightly cooler wash, something like an eco wash, or even just a quick 30-minute one. This is because, just like with all the other plastic items on this list, you'll want to make sure the high heat doesn't damage the plastic.

8. Oven knobs

Cleaning oven knobs can be an arduous task, leading to the hob, grill and oven being switched on by accident.

Instead you could carefully remove them and de-grease them in the top of your dishwasher along with other plastics.

Update (28/02/2020): We have received a complaint that the dishwasher could degrade and wash away any glue used on the oven knobs. As such we recommend that you check that your oven knobs don't use glue to hold parts together before washing them in the dishwasher.

9. Fake plastic flowers

Dusty and dull plastic flowers can be freshened up in a dishwasher by using a colder wash, such as an eco or delicate program. This way they'll come out dry, too.

Consider using a pre-rinse cycle if they only simply need a light clean, but bear in mind they'll have to dry on the side afterwards.