Can You Wash Clothes in the Dishwasher?

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Dishwashers can wash a variety of items, though most of the items are related to dinnerware or cookware. Because of its ability to wash various items at once, it’s only natural to wonder if you can also wash clothes in the dishwasher. While you can technically wash your clothes in the dishwasher, the real question is, should you? The short and sweet answer is no. Washing your clothes in the dishwasher is not only inefficient, but it can actually cause more harm than good.

Can you wash clothes in the dishwasher?

No, clothes should never be washed in a dishwasher. If you’re unable to wash your clothing in a washing machine, the second best option is to hand wash them in your sink, bathtub, or bucket.

How do you hand-wash clothing?

  1. Pretreat any stains that you have before hand washing. This will help to increase the chance of getting those stains.
  2. Fill your bathtub, sink, or bucket with tepid water. Add your laundry detergent, and then use your hand to stir for a few seconds.
  3. Submerge your clothing into the soapy water and agitate with your hand for several minutes. For extremely soiled items, consider soaking the clothing in the soapy water for no more than 30 minutes.
  4. Drain the water out of the tub/sink/bucket before continuing.
  5. Rinse the clothing with cool or tepid water until all the soapy water has been rinsed from the fabric.
  6. Press the clothing up against the tub/sink/bucket to remove the excess water. Refrain from twisting or wringing the clothing as this can damage its fibers.
  7. Dry the clothing in either a clothes dryer or by air drying.
Image by Tobamedia from Pixabay

What issues could washing clothes in the dishwasher cause?

Dish ware and fabric are two completely different things that require different cleaning methods. Trying to use an appliance designed for dishes to clean your clothes can only end in disaster. Here are 4 good reasons never to attempt to wash your clothes in your dishwasher.

1. It can damage to your clothes

Unlike washing machines, dishwashers contain a heating element that allows the appliance to heat the water running into it. This lets the dishwasher increase the water temperature to a number much higher than what you can get from your tap.

While this is useful to help aid in the cleaning of dishes, this high heat can actually damage your clothing.

2. It can break your dishwasher

Another potential issue you could face is a broken dishwasher. Dishwashers have an arm-type sprayer that moves around inside the machine, and your clothing can quickly become entangled in this arm.

This can lead to expensive repair or replacement costs. Furthermore, washing clothes in your dishwasher may even void the manufacturer’s warranty.

3. It won’t properly clean and dry your clothes

Washing machines are famously known for their ability to spin and agitate, which is essential to getting your dirty clothes clean. Dishwashers, on the other hand, use a simple spraying feature that blasts the food and grease off of surfaces. While this works well to clean dishes, it cannot properly clean and rinse the clothing.

Furthermore, dishwashers are designed to dry the dampness that you would find on plates and silverware. They cannot, however, dry soaking wet clothes. What you are left with instead is a soggy mess.

4. It creates a potential safety hazard

Dishwashers contain various moving parts, and trying to cram clothes into this appliance can result in a safety hazard. Some dishwashers have an exposed heating element located at the bottom of the machine.

If your clothing comes in contact with this heating element, it can cause a fire. Even if your model doesn’t have an exposed heating element, it can still cause the dishwasher to backup, which leads to a flooded kitchen and water damage.

What other things should I not wash in the dishwasher?

Clothing isn’t the only thing you cannot wash in the dishwasher. In fact, there are several things that people often toss in the dishwasher that shouldn’t be cleaned in this appliance. These include:

  • Cutting boards, utensils, or tools made from bamboo or wood
  • Cast iron pots and pans
  • Copper pots and pans
  • Knives
  • Crystal
  • Insulated mugs and cups

When in doubt, check with the item’s manufacturer to see if it is dishwasher safe. If you cannot find out this information, then err on the side of caution and choose another method to clean the item.

What things can I wash in the dishwasher?

Image by jhenning from Pixabay

Now that we know what items shouldn’t be cleaned in the dishwasher, let’s discuss what you can actually clean in this appliance.

According to Whirlpool, hard plastic, everyday china, ceramic dish ware, stainless steel, glass and stoneware baking dishes, metal utensils, drinking glasses, silicone utensils, and sturdy wire glasses are all dishwasher safe.

But what about other items that are not related to dish ware or cookware? You may be surprised to learn that you can wash a wide array of items not related to eating and cooking just by placing them in your dishwasher. These items are:

  • Small trash cans
  • Kitchen sponges
  • Dog chew toys
  • Hairbrushes
  • Electric razor attachments
  • Small gardening tools
  • Legos


While it may seem like a quick solution if you’re unable to use your washing machine, cleaning your clothes in a dishwasher can quickly become a decision you regret.

Instead, use a different method of getting your clothes clean, such as hand washing or taking your items to a laundry mat. The risks associated with washing them in a dishwasher are just not worth it.