The dishwasher is a modern marvel. The fact that someone specifically invented a machine to clean grease off a plate is, to me, very beautiful. I love my dishwasher, I treat it kindly, I feed it nice soap. But also, I sometimes put things there that don’t belong. A few good knives, once. A wooden cutting board another time. These are “Cardinal Sins of Dishwashers”—some things just have to be washed by hand. So here are the eight things you should never put in your beautiful, perfect dishwasher.
1. Anything Made Of Wood
No cutting boards, no spoons, no nothing. Wet wood gets warped out of shape, expands, contracts, cracks and can ultimately catch more bacteria than ever in the craters created by a dishwasher. So just wash it all by hand. Please.
2. Insulated Mugs
That coffee thermos has to get washed by hand, sorry. Although some new versions are dishwasher safe, most insulated tumblers get wrecked in the dishwasher, says Sharon Franke, director of the Kitchen Appliances and Technology Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. And Good Housekeeping would know!
3. Good Knives
Your lovely 9-inch chef’s knife needs to be washed by hand, dried right away and stored properly. Putting these knives in the dishwasher can cause them to dull faster or even rust. If you paid a lot of money for a nice knife that you use every day, take care of it!
4. Nonstick Pans
The best way to ruin a nice nonstick pan is to put it in the dishwasher (or to use a metal spatula to scrape it out, yikes). A dishwasher is not kind to nonstick coating, and it can damage the finish.
This is a recipe for stuck eggs and crappy pancakes. Some pans are dishwasher safe, but make sure to check for any damage if you decide to put them through.
5. Cast Iron
If you put your cast iron skillet in the dishwasher, you’re doing it wrong! You should NEVER use soap on your skillet — it will wreck the lovely seasoned coating!
Wipe the skillet down with a paper towel and rinse gently if needed (or rub clean with salt). Then, make sure to season it again with a coat of neutral oil before storing it.
6. Flimsy Plastic
If it’s not reusable, don’t put it in the dishwasher. Some plastic takeout containers, softer plastics and anything else that you’re not entirely sure about should be hand-washed. Tupperware containers can be washed on the top rack so they’re not too close to the heating element. Melted plastic in your dishwasher = no fun.
7. Things With Labels On Them
Paper and adhesive can get stuck in your dishwasher’s filter. And repairing (or replacing!) a major appliance will be a lot more expensive and time-consuming than just buying a mason jar or waiting for the label to soak off. Just soak the jar overnight in water and a drop of dish soap and peel it off in one fell swoop. No labels, no problem.
8. Fancy Things
Your grandmother’s antique tea set? Sterling silver utensils? Anything with bone, gold plate or hand-painted details? Hand. Wash. Only. The hot water and harsh detergents can damage or even ruin delicate plates and utensils. Plus, the strong jets of water can cause plates to knock together and get chipped. When in doubt, wash it yourself.