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11 Things You Should Never Put in Your Dishwasher

Sorry—some things you just have to wash by hand!

dishwasher with a red circle with an x
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When you shouldn’t use your dishwasher

Ahh, the dishwasher—your kitchen’s most trusted companion. Perhaps one of the best parts of enjoying a delicious meal at home is knowing that you don’t have to wash each dish, bowl, cup and mug by hand. Instead, just load the dishwasher and it will handle the mess for you. But not everything can go in the dishwasher—so exactly what is not dishwasher safe?

Not all items made for the kitchen can withstand the high temperatures dishwashers have to reach to kill germs and clean effectively. And some are too valuable to risk being tossed around in a gymnasium of other products. To help streamline your clean-up routine and ensure you don’t break Aunt Helen’s treasured casserole dish, here are the items you should never put in the dishwasher. Next, learn how to clean a dishwasher and things that shouldn’t end up in the dryer.

vintage casserole dish
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Aunt Barbara’s treasured casserole dish

Why it’s bad

The same goes for any family heirloom. If there’s a bowl, vase or any dish that you love and have had for years, don’t even think about tossing it in the dishwasher. Sure, it might survive a run (or several), but you’ll sorely regret the one time it clinks with a nonimportant item in there and breaks in pieces. “The dishwasher is not the place to risk it breaking, chipping or exploding,” says Chantay Bridges, coach, speaker, writer and realtor at Truline Realty.

What to do instead

Sorry, but the votes are in on this one—time to get out those rubber gloves and scrub. And the same goes for gold—it’s beautiful, but not meant for the dishwasher. “Any dishware with gold rims and delicate patterns, like the fancy china you got for your wedding, is a definite dishwasher don’t,” Bridges says. “That’s why you should always wash your gold plates, silverware and china by hand to preserve their shine and glitter.” Check out these ways you are shortening the life of your dishwasher.

blue dish soap and blue sponge on a grey background
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Dishwashing liquid

Why it’s bad

We have to admit that it kind of makes sense—dishwashing liquid’s for washing dishes, right? Yes, but NEVER in the dishwasher—unless you want your lovely kitchen to become a giant bubble bath in a matter of minutes. For those dishes and kitchenware items you have to wash by hand, go ahead and use all the dishwashing liquid you want.

What to do instead

Your dishwasher requires a different type of dishwashing solution that is clearly labeled “dishwasher detergent.”

cropped hand holding plastic food container
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Takeout containers

Why it’s bad

Sure, they’re great for taking lunches to work or snacks on the go, but when it comes to slipping them into your dishwasher, beware. If an item is not clearly labeled “dishwasher friendly” by the manufacturer (you can always check online if you’ve already thrown out the box it came in), this means it’s not safe. “The heat from the water or during the drying period can melt or change the chemical composition of the container, making it unsafe to place food in and reuse,” says Bridges.

What to do instead

“Try not to reuse any takeout containers and only purchase plastic food storage containers labeled ‘dishwasher friendly,’” Bridges advises. Check out the things you should never put in your washing machine.

Copper Pot
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Copper pans

Why it’s bad

Maybe the main reason you bought copper pans is because of their feng shui look, which you obviously don’t want to alter. We also recommend using copper pans for their superior cooking quality. Tossing those puppies in the dishwasher, however, will change their color to something a little, shall we say, rustier? This also includes those Moscow Mule mugs you love so much.

What to do instead

Even if you use them on the daily, wash them by hand if you want them to stay shiny. While we have you here, find out about these things you never knew you could put in the dishwasher.

High Angle View Of Wooden Spoons Against White Background
Eskay Lim/Getty Images

Wooden utensils and cutting boards

Why it’s bad

Due to the high-heat temperatures of your dishwasher, the consistency of wood is also at risk of being altered. “The hot water can dissolve or alter wooden-made stuff,” says Hristo Rosenov, owner of Exclusive Repairs, an appliance repair company in London.

What to do instead

Assuming you’re not a fan of splinters, it’s best to wash by hand. “In order to maintain them properly, wet a nylon scrubbing pad in a bowl of warm, soapy water and wash them with it. Then rinse the utensils under warm water again,” Rosenov says. Plus, to keep them looking like new, oil them once a month. Here are some more dishwasher hacks you didn’t know you needed.

crystal glass
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Crystal glass and dishware

Why it’s bad

You might be scared to clean your precious crystal glasses by hand, but the dishwasher could do even more damage. “Over time, the high temperature in the dishwashing machine, its cleaning cycle and the close proximity to other items might cause your crystal to crack, chip or take away the shine,” says Rosenov.

What to do instead

“To clean your crystal properly, warm up two cups of vinegar and pour it into a larger container. Place glasses or bowls into the vinegar and soak for three to five minutes. Then, rinse with clear water and dry with a lint-free towel for a perfect shine,” Rosenov suggests. Always add this one ingredient to your dishwasher so your glassware will have that extra sparkle.

Shiny stainless steel cheese grater
Olga Shestakova/Getty Images

Cheese grater

Why it’s bad

Don’t be surprised if you place this little trinket in the dishwasher and it looks almost untouched by the time you take it out. “The dishwasher doesn’t have the capability to pick up all the cheese curdles hidden deep inside,” says Bridges.

What to do instead

Go ahead and hand-wash your cheese grater for best results. Worried about your dishwasher’s performance? Here are clear signs your dishwasher is dying.

chef knife on a gray background
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Fancy chef-quality knives

Why it’s bad

They do all the dirty work when it comes to slicing your food—naturally, you don’t feel like hand-washing them. But while you might not want to get nicked by a knife mid-scrub, your dishwasher won’t do them any good either. “Although some dishwashing machines have a special knife rack, the dishwasher cycles and the abrasive detergents will still dull the sharp blades,” says Bridges.

What to do instead

“You’re better off hand-washing and drying them carefully with a towel instead of letting them air-dry,” Bridges says. As for other utensils, learn if you should put them up or down in the dishwasher.

west highland white terrier eating from a dog bowl in a studio setting
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Your pet’s bowl or feeder

Why it’s bad

You might consider Fido family, but his germs do not mix well with yours or your little ones’. That urban legend you’ve heard about how a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s? Not totally true. “Think about where your dog’s or cat’s mouth has been—it most likely contains bacteria that could make you and your family ill,” says Bridges.

What to do instead

“Instead, wash his belongings by hand and let them air-dry,” Bridges suggests. While we have you here, here’s how to clean your kitchen from top to bottom.

pink travel mug on a gray background
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Insulated drinkware and mugs

Why it’s bad

As much as you love your reusable to-go coffee cups and mugs, it’s best not to put them in the dishwasher. The insulated component has a vacuum seal that can be ruined by the dishwasher’s high heat.

What to do instead

This is yet another item you’re better off hand-washing with warm, soapy water and letting air-dry. For more tips and tricks, here’s how to clean every type of water bottle.

stack of Pots And Pans on a gray background
Brian Hagiwara/getty images

Nonstick pots and pans

Why it’s bad

You probably know you should never put your cast-iron skillet in the dishwasher, but surprisingly, nonstick pots and pans are typically not dishwasher-friendly either. Unless the manufacturer labeled the product as dishwasher-safe, the dishwasher can break down the nonstick coating over time, which pretty much defeats the purpose.

What to do instead

To keep the “non” in “nonstick,” hand-wash your pots and pans with hot, soapy water and air-dry or towel-dry.


  • Chantay Bridges, coach, speaker, writer and realtor at Truline Realty
  • Hristo Rosenov, owner of Exclusive Repairs, an appliance repair company in London

If you’re looking to buy a new dishwasher, here are the best dishwasher brands to check out.