A dish rack full of dishes.

10 Secret Uses For Your Dishwasher

Originally contributed by John Paul Hogan • last updated 2/8/2021

Nowadays, dishwashers are commonplace around North America. Not only are they ultra convenient, but they allow anyone regardless of ability to get their dishes clean without having to worry about cleaning by hand. And believe it or not, a full dishwasher load is actually more water and energy efficient than washing all of those dishes in the sink. You’ll save water, energy, and time with one of these handy little machines. 

Since dishwashers are experts at cleaning and sanitizing dishes using hot water and soap, why not use them for other applications? Here are some of the ingenious ways you can use your dishwasher to wash more than just dishes.

1. Pet Toys

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Pet toys tend to get coated in residual slobber, pet food (unless your pet is the kind to meticulously clean every bit of food off their chew toys), and dirt from being on the ground. An easy way to get some of that dirt off (and wash the smell away) is to just throw the toys in the top rack of the dishwasher and let it run. It saves you the time of washing all the individual toys and keeps things nice and tidy. 

2. Kids’ Toys

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Like pets, little kids have the tendency to put things in their mouths. They also may drag their toys through dirt or get food on them. It’s probably a good idea to clean their toys every once in a while. After all, you wouldn’t want your kids playing with dirty toys. How you clean them is up to you, but if they have a lot of small things like blocks, using the dishwasher will save a lot of time. Just don’t forget to use the top rack, since a lot of kids’ toys are made of plastic and would probably melt on the bottom.

3. Vent Covers And Fans

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Dusty fans and vent covers are hard to clean because of how many small crevices and angles they have. You’d be at it for hours if you had a particularly dusty fan to clean. Luckily, you can put them in the dishwasher and let your machine do the work. You’d probably want to give them a light dusting first, but this will help with all of those corners that are super hard to reach. Of course, when washing a fan, you only need to wash the part that covers the blades, not the electrical components themselves.

4. Light Fixtures

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Unless your light fixtures are fastened tightly to the ceiling or wall, you can bring them down to be cleaned in the dishwasher. As surprising as this seems, it’ll actually work fairly well; just like with fans and vent covers, some light fixtures have crevices and weird corners that are finicky and time-consuming to clean up. This should go without saying, but make sure the lightbulb isn’t still screwed in when washing your light fixture in the dishwasher. Electricity and water don’t mix. 

5. Tools

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Believe it or not, tools get dirty too. Cleaning tools can be a real pain, especially since if you have one dirty tool, you probably have at least a dozen that are just as dirty if not dirtier. Getting the gunk off your tools can be made a bit easier by, you guessed it, popping them into the dishwasher. Keep in mind, though, that hand tools and power tools are completely different beasts. Putting your hand tools like screwdrivers and wrenches in the dishwasher is one thing, but maybe don’t wash power tools. It should, once again, go without saying, but even smaller power tools that could feasibly fit in a dishwasher have electrical components, which don’t mix with water.

6. Sports Equipment

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Dishwashers regularly clean some pretty gross things. Things that may have contained spoiled food or raw meat often go in the dishwasher and come out clean and sparkling and ready to use again. So, when you think about it, putting something like sports equipment in the dishwasher isn’t that gross, all things considered. It’s easier to put that kind of stuff somewhere it can be cleaned all at once and without having to handle it, and then you only have to handle them as little as possible.

7. Vacuum Accessories

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Cleaning items need to be cleaned too! Unless you’re vacuuming your flower garden, the stuff your vacuum will pick up won’t be overly gross (except for bugs and spiders but we won’t get into that). So, the residual dirt that clings to the sides of your vacuum accessories aren’t like, gross gross, just a little gross, and really nothing that a dishwasher can’t handle. Stick them in the top rack and they’ll be good as new just as soon as the cycle’s done.

8. Shower Caddy

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A shower caddy is another one of those things that should be cleaned every once in a while, but is just difficult and time consuming to clean. Once again, just leave it to your trusty dishwasher. It’ll get the dirt off of all those hard-to-reach crevices and leave you with a sparkling caddy. Because they’re specifically made for environments that collect a lot of water, you won’t have to worry about rust or anything like that, either. Convenience wins again!

9. Brushes

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Brushes, combs, loofas, and anything of that nature should probably get a good cleaning every now and then. Sadly, these items often get forgotten, until you go to use your comb only to find some conditioner or product build up on it (which is more annoying than anything else). The top rack of your dishwasher will make quick work of that dirt, and you won’t have to worry about trying to get it all out yourself. 

10. Produce

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As insane as it sounds, washing produce in a dishwasher is actually a thing you can do. Let's say you bought a bunch of oranges for some large party you're having (or you just really love oranges), and you need to clean them as quickly as possible. Stick them in the dishwasher and you're good to go. Of course, you do run the chance of cooking your produce a little, since dishwashers run hot. But as long as you use the top rack it shouldn't be too bad. Plus, they'll be nice and clean, and that's really the important part.

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