It Can Do That? 8 Great Dishwasher Tricks

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Kitchen appliances are created for specific purposes. Refrigerators chill food, ovens cook dinner and dishwashers clean dishes. But sometimes, what's written on the box isn't all that your device can do. In fact, we here at have found eight surprising things that your kitchen dishwasher can clean other than your dishes, and trust us when we say, you won't believe what they are.

  1. Baseball caps: You can put a baseball cap in the dishwasher to get it clean, using your basic liquid dish soap. That way, your hat won't get bent like it does in the washing machine. For extra shape security, use a Ball Cap Washer and hook it to a spoke in the dishwasher. Just don't wash the hat with other dishes; food can get trapped in its cloth.
  2. Dolls and action figures: Like other small toys, dolls and action figures can benefit from the rinse cycle. Place them inside a mesh lingerie bag and put it on the top rack of your dishwasher. Run a regular cycle, and you're good to go. We don't recommend putting Barbie through the wash, because her hair can fall out and get caught in the dishwasher filter. Oh, and Sally will be none too pleased with her doll's new hair day.
  3. Rain boots: Remove the liners of your boots and lay them horizontally in the dishwasher. The rubber resists the heavy spray and will get a nice close clean. Flip flops can go in the dishwasher, too, but on the top rack, and not if there are any gems or special materials on them. Crocs, however, are not dishwasher safe, so stick to hand cleaning for those.
  4. Tools: Any tools with metal or plastic handles are completely safe for the dishwasher. Wood will warp, so don't put any wood tools in the dishwasher. Just be sure to place your tools in a secure rack where they won't fall between spokes and get caught in the machine. Towel-dry them afterward to prevent rusting.
  5. Hairbrushes and combs: Any hairbrushes or combs made of plastic can handle a spin through the machine, but not wood or natural boar-bristle brushes. The wood can become warped and moldy. Be sure to completely remove all hair strands before putting the tools in, to prevent hair from clogging the dishwasher drain.
  6. Shin guards, knee pads and mouth guards: Toss all your simple sports padding in the top rack of your dishwasher for an easy wash. Be wary of overly dirty pads, though, which can still retain dirt and leak onto your cleaner dishes below.
  7. Potatoes: Honestly, the easiest way to get nice and clean potatoes is to toss them onto the top rack with a rinse-cycle only and no detergent. This is perfect for when you're having a large dinner party and want to save some time during preparation. Make sure they're securely placed and won't fall between openings in your dishwasher shelves.
  8. Broom ends, dust pans, scrub brushes and vacuum attachments: When you think about it, cleaning options for household items like broom ends and scrub brushes are in slim picking, usually in the category of "Oh, we'll soak it in soapy water for a half-hour." Before tossing them in your dishwasher, though, shake any loose dust and dirt into the trash. Then stick brushes and attachments in the silverware basket, and any broom ends and dust pans on the top rack. Wash in a normal cycle, and they'll be good as new.

At the end of the day, always be wary of what you put in your dishwasher. If anything you own has specific cleaning instructions attached or labeled water/heat restrictions, then re-think throwing them in the machine. When in doubt, call the manufacturer, or just clean the items by hand. But really, for the most part, your dishwasher is a nice, clean and easy way to solve many household cleaning problems, and not just with your dishes.

Last Updated: July 22, 2011
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About Emelie Battaglia Emelie Battagila is a contributing writer for

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