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Jun 26, 2009 06:35 PM

What goes in the dishwasher?

I'm about to move into a new apartment with a newly renovated kitchen - and it includes a dishwasher! I've never had a dishwasher before (insane, I know), and I have NO idea what you can put in them. I know the basics to hand-wash: knives, cast iron, etc. But please tell me if you can put the following in the dishwasher:

Le Creuset (enameled cast iron and bakeware)
All-Clad MC2 (got a bunch of pots for my wedding 2 years ago and just opening them now!)
Melamine mixing bowls (hard plastic that I know can't go in the microwave)
Non-stick pans
Copper pans (assuming I don't care about maintaining the shiny finish?)

Also, I read that you can put things in that are really actually dirty. When I was a kid, my mom made us rinse everything until it was pretty much clean before putting them in the dishwasher, but not I hear they actually do clean. Is this true? Btw, it's a GE Profile dishwasher.


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  1. My Calphalon pots and pans are dishwasher safe but I don't like how they turn out in the dishwasher (the All-Clad is probably similar). I handwash them. The Henckel knives are also handwashed.

    What I put in the dishwasher: plates, flatware, glasses (not wine, beer, or martini), cutting boards used for raw meats (bamboo for veggies is handwashed), metal spatulas, spoons and the like, the kitchenaid bowl and accessories, anything ceramic (ramekins, casseroles), and plastic storage containers. Probably shouldn't put the plastic in there but I'm lazy and the dishwasher gets them really clean.

    I wouldn't put the non-stick pans in the dishwasher. The heat can degrade the non-stick finish. The melamine bowls, I'd think would be okay.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ima Wurdibitsch

      A few additional thoughts:
      1. Use your dishwasher regularly. First, dishwashers are more energy efficient than the way that most people handwash, so there is no reason not to. Also, the gaskets in the base of the dishwasher can get brittle if it's not used often.

      2. In most models (not all) the hottest location is the bottom shelf, and the top shelf (typically set up for glasses) is cooler. So place any plastic items that are "dishwasher" safe -- containers & their lids, utensils with plastic handles -- on the top, and any relatively dirty items, like pots, on the bottom.

      3. You did not ask about good china and silverware, so may be that's not an issue, but: If you have china that is relatively new (post WWII & certainly if from the past 30 years), it is dishwasher safe, but use the China/ Light cycle. If you have heirloom China, don't put it in the dishwasher. As to silverware, if silver & stainless are intermingled in the utensil slots, you risk pitting the silver. So keep them segregated; you can run them in the same cycle, just keep them in separate areas, with some space in between. And, if you have older silverware (more than 30-40 years), don't put knives, pie servers (anything with a 2 piece handle) in, as they are glued and cannot withstand the heat.

      4. Glass can go into the dishwasher; crystal cannot. So, don't put the "good" wine glasses into the dishwasher, even if the stems are short enough to fit.

      5. Our dishwasher is old (20 years) so we were in the school of rinsing before loading. Since switching to Cascade with Dawn, I've found 98% of the time you don't need to rinse, even as to baking dishes or pots with hardened residue. So, I've pretty much stopped rinsing, and figured it was just easier & more environmentally sound to wash anything that is still dirty when I unload the dishwasher. (I don't have an glass-etching problem with Cascade, especially as I also use the Cascade Plus product.)

      6. If you want to save electricity ('cause you are cheap or environmentally conscientious), skip the dry cycle entirely. We run our dishwasher in the evening, after dinner, and unload the next morning, before we go to work. About 75% of the contents are dry by then, and what's not we just load onto the dishdrainer by the sink. It's dry within a few hours.

      1. jenhen2: "I read that you can put things in that are really actually dirty."

        Actually, most modern dishwashers have been designed on the assumption and to the design parameter that dishes will go in dirty (not really dirty-dirty, but not rinsed "clean") and the dishwashing detergents also are formulated on that assumption. You generally will get cleaner dishes if you do not fully rinse the dishes first.

        But there is something that you did not address: etching.

        Most dishwasher detergents are distributed nationally. There are a few local jurisdictions that have restrictive rules on formulations, but the great majority of localities do not have specific restrictions. Most of the nationally distributed dishwasher detergents are formulated with very aggressive chemicals, especially high phosphate levels. Certain kinds of glass -- you cannot tell by eye-balling which are the most susceptible -- are formulated with chemicals to make them harder, or more resistant to sudden changes in temperature, or more crystal-like, or more resistant to breakage, etc. Some of the chemicals in those glass formulations will leach out when used with aggressively formulated dishwasher detergents; the result will be etching, which can range from a foggy mist appearance on the glass, as if it had been cold and brought into a humid room, to outright "scratches" in the surface that look as if the glass has been ineptly sandblasted. The softer your water supply is, the more severe the problem. Because the etching is the result of subtraction -- chemicals leached out of the glass -- there is no cure.

        We ruined some good glassware (wine glasses and glass dessert bowls) before we fully appreciated the cause of the etching. We live in Portland, Oregon, where the municipal water supply has very soft water. We had been using a major brand of supermarket dishwasher detergent.

        For that reason, we now use only Belgian Ecover brand dishwasher detergent, which will not etch glassware under any circumstances. Based on plant sugars, it is also gentler on the environment than petroleum-based dishwasher detergents. But (in our experience) it cleans dishes just as well as much more aggressive dishwasher detergents that we used to use. Here, Ecover is priced competitively with dishwasher detergents from Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, and Electrasol.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Politeness

          Thanks all. This was really helpful!

          1. re: Politeness

            Politeness, MAAS miracle metal polish (as seen on TV...) will work wonders on etched glass. Most hardware stores sell the stuff... adam

          2. I put in anything I can. So I have everyday glasses that go in the dishwasher, and then good ones that don't. Politeness puts it more eloquently ... some glasses go cloudy. The odd thing is that you never know which. I have a set of 6 cheapos, two of which have clouded and the other 4 haven't. No idea why. It may be that some reaction with vinegar, lemon, oil or whatever caused it, but I see no rhyme nor reason. My cheap crystal stuff seems to have survived better than ordinary glass. Polycarbonate glasses can also suffer.

            I put all wooden spoons and spatulas etc in. Doesn't do them any favours, but at $2 each who cares if their life goes from six years to four.

            My Shun knives don't go in there, but all my other ones do. This included Sabatier, Henckel
            s and Kitchen Aid. I did lose the handle on one of my ancient Henckels.

            Anything stainless goes in there, including my pots. Don't put cast iron in there - you will get a rust ring on the base.

            Lightweight plastic containers magically invert and fill up with semi-dirty water. Weigh them down with something else. If you keep jar lids then put them in cutlery container as they can slip between the gaps. Resealable bags can be turned inside out and put on the top shelf underneath a bowl.

            Don't put any gold or silver plated cutlery or gilded plates in there. (sorry, I'm disagreeing with masha here). Don't put copper pots in there - they can develop a verdigris effect, although that can be cleaned with a vinegar-salt solution provided you wash it with soapy water afterwards - rather defeats the purpose.

            Make sure nothing hangs down or can slip between the gaps stopping the rotor (?) from turning.

            The main change is to ensure everything you buy from now on has "dishwasher safe" on it. Sooner or later your non-safe stuff will migrate from the kitchen to the armoire only to resurface at dinner parties. I would avoid putting anything delicate in that could be broken by another piece falling against it. (Then again I break more stuff hand-washing it in my ceramic sink).

            Time your use so electricity is cheapest. Here in Toronto peak usage is more than twice as expensive as after 9pm.

            1. Never put LeCreueset or any other cast iron/ enameled cast iron pot in the dishwasher. The high heat will ruin them and they can rust if left to air dry. If the manufacturer says it is okay, you still need to retrieve the pots quickly because sitting in the damp dishwasher will cause rusting. Guaranteed.

              As far as other pots and pans, only pure stainless steel survives the dishwasher over time without issues. This means: No copper or copper trim, no anodized aluminum, no aluminum. You may be able to toss in a cheap non-stick pan if the cooking surface is intact, but do not do this regularly.

              Good knives should never be put in the DW. Even if the blades are stainless steel, the high temperature hot water is likely to ruin the handles. There are some knives with stainless handles, and this will be okay. Just be careful loading and unloading because they are sharp. Carbon steel knives never go in either because they will be ruined by rusting and discoloration. Most knives are best washed and dried carefully by hand.

              Plasticware and glasses should go on the top. Stainless steel flatware is fine. Some spatulas come loose from their handles over time when washed in the dishwasher, and Oxo tongs with black comfort grips get "gooey". Outdoor-use plastic patioware usually crazes over time. I have to replace my glasses ever other year. Pretty much, if it is not pure stainless steel or pure glass that is labeled for dishwasher use, it is a gamble. Pots and knives are expensive, so don't think you can cheat. You can't. Patio plastic is cheap, that's a better gamble.

              As for other hazards, if your dishwasher has a drying coil, you need to be careful about plastic items falling through and melting on the coil. Not a pleasant experience. If you have a DW with with no heater coil, that is safer. You may be able to turn off your heater coil if you are washing a lot of plastic ware.

              Keep antique china and silver out of there. If you have fine china and it is labeled for DW use, load carefully so that dishes don't touch each other when washing or they can chip. I never wash expensive crystal in the DW. Too delicate. And a danger to clean up if something breaks.

              As for those pretty melamine mixing bowls: I had six, and I am down to three. Why? The DW seems to cause the bottoms to crack, even on the top shelf. It's the high heat, and two hours at 180 degrees is extreme. Just do it when you need to, not regularly.

              Okay, are you disllusioned yet? You should be. If you have nice things, and it sounds like you do, you still need to care for them. If you want to, start using pure stainless pots and pans (I think the AC MC2 is fine) more often than the LeCreuset. If you are really into low maintenance, you buy high quality stainless steel pots, sturdy plates, bowls and glasses and stainless steel flatware. Anything else is best done by hand.

              I scrape big pieces off my plates into the garbage, and let my Bosch do the rest. I have had good Kitchenaids and GEs too. The worst was Caloric, but that was a cheap builder model and that didn't last long.

              One more thing -- large serveware can be delicate. Just be careful, and if it is the inexpensive kind that shows crazing when wet in the sink (think cheap holiday serving pieces), not good for the DW either.

              Enjoy it. It will save you time, you just need to change your habits a little.

              1 Reply
              1. re: RGC1982

                RGC1982, forgive me for saying this, but your dishwasher is misadjusted. 180 degrees is far too hot. It used to be that Bosch bragged that its dishwashers exceeded NSF safety standards because they had a 161° cycle, the hottest -- then, a few years ago -- temperature available in any home dishwasher. Our Miele dishwasher has half a dozen cycles, and just one of them "Sani-Wash," which we never use, heats the water to 170° for one rinse cycle only. All of the "hot water" CLEANING cycles of out Miele top out at 150°, and the cycles that we use most often wash with water heated to 130°, which still is hotter than any of us washes dishes by hand.

                There is really no reason why -- and a lot of good reasons, including the ones you have cited above, why not -- to wash in 180° water or even to rinse in 180° water; certainly TWO HOURS at 180° that you allude to never needs to happen. If your Bosch is heating water to 19° above Bosch's "bragging" temperature, that is the reason why plastic cracks and rubber goes gooey in your dishwasher.

                As for enameled cast iron, we have washed it in the dishwasher for decades with no problems whatsoever, and fully intend to do so "forever." (Our enameled cast iron, though, currently comprises only Descoware and Copco's Michael Lax lines; we currently have no Le Creuset). The "high heat" you refer to inside a dishwasher certainly will not damage enameled cast iron, not cast iron that regularly sits in the oven at 350°, which is 138° above the boiling point of water, for hours on end.