13 things you didn’t know your dishwasher could do

Ranging from the obvious to the downright zany.

Dishwashers make light work of kitchen clean up. Provided the dishwasher is stacked correctly and cleaned regularly, it can save plenty of time, power and water. But did you know this appliance’s cleaning prowess extends beyond mere dishes?

Think outside the box and you’ll find plenty of things in your home that can be cleaned and disinfected in the dishwasher. These dishwasher cleaning hacks range from the obvious to the outright zany. How far are you willing to push your dishwasher?

1. Warm plates

Don’t fire up the oven just to warm plates for your next dinner party. Many dishwashers have a plate warming function that does the job in minutes. If your dishwasher doesn’t have a plate warming setting, simply run a drying cycle to get the plates and bowls up to temperature. 

Cupboard with plates and glasses inside
(Photography: Alana Landsbury | Styling: Corina Koch)

2. Catch cooking spray

Cooking spray is a handy staple in many kitchens, and while it’s a godsend for greasing pans and trays, it can also make a slippery, dangerous mess of hard floors. Instead of spraying pans over the counter or the sink, open up the dishwasher and allow the door to catch the droplets. The oil will be washed away the next time you run it. 

3. Wash fruit and vegetables

It may sound scary, but yes, you can bulk wash fruit and vegetables in the dishwasher. Even appliance manufacturer Miele endorses the practice, saying it’s perfectly fine to place fruit and vegetables on the top rack of the dishwasher before running a cold cycle (without detergent, of course). That’ll make the potato salad prep a whole lot easier during your next barbecue!

White kitchen with tomatoes and pears on countertop
(Photography: John Downs | Styling: Kylie Jackes)

4. Disinfect kitchen sponges

Because kitchen sponges trap food particles and almost never dry out, they quickly become a haven for bacteria. The most effective way to disinfect kitchen sponges is to soak them in a bleach solution for 5 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. But, if you really can’t be bothered, place the sponge in the dishwasher with a regular load to banish germs and odours.

5. Degrease rangehood filters

A rangehood needs clean filters in order to work well. One way to clean these grimy filters is by popping them into the dishwasher on a hot cycle.

If it has been a while since you last cleaned them, you may need to soak them in a solution of hot water, baking soda and dish soap before scrubbing them down. Then place the filters in the dishwasher on the hottest cycle and allow to air dry completely before placing back into the rangehood. 

Country style kitchen with stainless steel range hood
(Photography: Brigid Arnott | Styling: Lisa Hilton)

6. Remove germs from baby toys

Babies love to put everything in their mouths, so it’s a good idea to keep their toys clean. Why wash them by hand, or wipe them down one-by-one with a Milton’s steriliser wipe, when you could chuck them into the dishwasher and let the machine do its thing? Many toys are labelled ‘dishwasher safe’, but you shouldn’t try this with wooden toys, items with strings, fabric or batteries.

7. Clean flower vases

Cut flowers last longer when they’re arranged in a clean, disinfected vase. Get vases sparkling clean by placing them in the dishwasher on a delicate cycle (which may also be listed as a glass, or light cycle). Take care to arrange the vase in a way that it does not come into contact with another item that may cause it to crack or break.

Outdoor area with glass vase in centre of table
(Photography: Nat Spadavecchia | Styling: Fiona Gould)

8. Renew makeup brushes

Cleaning makeup brushes is a tedious but necessary task. There’s no denying makeup brushes are delicate, but if you dare to do it, you can automate the process by placing them in the dishwasher.

Just swirl them in makeup brush cleanser, place them into the cutlery holder and run a gentle cycle. Skip the dishwashing detergent, and fill the soap compartment with white vinegar instead for a super clean rinse that will banish product build-up, mould and odours.

You can also use this method for hair brushes, combs and other hair accessories.

9. Dust fake flowers and plants

Fake flowers and plants accumulate a lot of dust, and they’re virtually impossible to clean with a duster or damp cloth. A quick cycle in the dishwasher with a dash of white vinegar will have them clean in no time.

Hydrangeas on a Hamptons style coffee table
(Photography: Alana Landsbury | Styling: Corina Koch)

10. Cleanse vacuum cleaner parts

It cleans every room in the house, but when was the last time you gave your vacuum cleaner a, well, clean? Get rid of dirt and dust on vacuum cleaner parts in one hot dishwasher cycle. Note: some manufacturers warn against placing any vacuum cleaner parts in the dishwasher, so be sure to read the instruction manual before giving this a go.

11. Polish golf balls

Grubby golf balls can be cleaned in the dishwasher, provided you contain them by placing them in the cutlery basket. The last thing you want is loose balls roaming around, wreaking havoc on the machine. It goes without saying that you might want to keep breakable items, such as plates and glasses, out of the machine while you give this a try. 

12. Scour shower caddies

Deep cleaning a shower requires a lot of effort and elbow grease, so embrace any hack that will reduce the amount of scrubbing you need to do. Let the dishwasher handle the shower caddy (which can build up with soap scum, mildew and germs over time). If your shower caddy is made from stainless steel, be sure to dry it thoroughly after the dishwashing cycle is complete to prevent rust.

Claw foot tub with wire bath caddy
(Photography: Brigid Arnott | Styling: Lisa Hilton)

13. Dust air conditioning vents

Ceiling air conditioner vents can attract dust, especially during autumn and spring when it isn’t in constant use. Place the vent covers in the dishwasher on a hot cycle to get rid of dust and any residual oils. 

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should …

We’ve kept this list quite tame, but here are some more questionable things you can try to do with a dishwasher, if you dare… 

  • Wash seakers, rubber thongs and boots (this sounds a little unhygenic if you ask us!)
  • Steam fish or vegetables (doesn’t sound particularly appetising, and why bother when an air fryer or regular stovetop steamer basket is just as convenient?)
  • Pet bowls and toys
  • Baseball caps (to prevent them from losing shape)
  • Flower pots
  • Car hub caps

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