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17 surprising things you can clean in your dishwasher

Use your dishwasher to clean items that you always thought had to be washed by hand.
/ Source: TODAY

We recently gave you the bad news about all the things you need to stop putting in your dishwasher, but there's good news too! There are plenty of surprising things that can go in your dishwasher — including many items from rooms beyond your kitchen. TODAY Food spoke to Lucinda Ottusch, dishwasher expert at Whirlpool Corporation’s Institute of Home Sciences, for her advice on what you can stop washing by hand and start letting the dishwasher take care of for you. Here are 17 items you can clean in your dishwasher.

1. Most porcelain dishware

Surprisingly, most porcelain is dishwasher safe. Just be sure to check the label and never put fine china with metal decorations into the dishwasher.

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2. Silver flatware

Surprisingly, silver and silver-plated flatware can be washed in the dishwasher, with a few caveats. Make sure to use a detergent that does NOT contain lemon or other citric acid, or it could damage the metal. Do not wash sterling silver flatware with stainless steel flatware (the electrolytic action can discolor and pit the metals where they touch). Run a rinse cycle if you’re not going to start the dishwasher immediately, as prolonged contact with food containing salt, acid or sulfide (eggs, mayonnaise and seafood) can damage the finish.

3. Stainless steel cookware

Much stainless steel cookware can go in the dishwasher, but be sure to check the manufacturer's instructions and hand-wash when in doubt. Prolong contact with food containing salt, vinegar, dairy or fruit can damage the finish, so be sure to run the dishwasher immediately, or run a rinse cycle.

4. Stainless steel graters and strainers

The spray action of the dishwasher can help remove particles from hard-to-clean areas. To preserve the finish on graters and strainers, rinse them immediately after prolonged contact with dairy foods (like cheese), fruit juice, salt and vinegar, especially if you delay running the dishwasher.

5. Iron cooktop grates

Wash them regularly in the dishwasher to prevent greasy build-up.

6. Greasy barbecue grill grates

Dishwashers also make clean-up easy for messy grill grates. Just make sure to oil the grates lightly after washing to prevent rusting.

7. Undecorated glass light globes

Dishwashers do a great job cleaning these, especially on grease-coated globes from kitchen fixtures. Just make sure to space them far apart so they don’t knock against each other and crack.

8. Dish brushes and sponges

Run them through the dishwasher daily, using the heated drying option, and you’ll never have stinky, germy sponges and brushes again. They fit well in the silverware basket.

9. Vent covers

Wash these regularly in the dishwasher to prevent caked-on grease.

10. Removable stove knobs

If the knobs do not have numbers/heating levels printed on them, they can be washed regularly in the silverware basket of the dishwasher to keep them grease-free.

11. Light switch and outlet plates

Instead of washing these individually by hand, wash them all at once in the dishwasher when you're spring cleaning. Just make sure they’re completely dry before screwing them back in place.

12. Coffee maker baskets, carafes and lids

Coffee leaves behind an oily residue that, when not removed, affects the flavor of coffee over time. Check the manufacturer's instructions to be sure they're dishwasher safe, and if they are, make it a habit to wash these in the dishwasher after each use, or daily if making multiple pots.

13. Plastic drawer dividers and other accessories

Pop plastic compartments, cutlery holders and desk accessories in the dishwasher — top rack only — to keep them fresh and clean.

14. Sturdy plastic items like small coolers and high chair trays

These can be placed in the lower rack but make sure to only use the air-dry option.

15. Glass and cans for recycling

Dishwashers make it easy to clean glass bottles and cans for recycling. Just run them through the washer’s rinse cycle.

16. Pet bowls and toys

Pet dishes and plastic, nylon and rubber toys can safely be washed in the dishwasher. Place smaller items in the silverware basket to keep them from falling through the racks.

17. Wine glasses

Regular wine glasses can go in the dishwasher if they do not have metallic trim or decorations on them. However, they should be loaded carefully so they don't knock into other items and crack or chip during the dishwashing process. Crystal wine glasses should not go in the dishwasher.