The name may suggest a very specific use, but dishwashers are more versatile than you think. Getting the most out of the kitchen appliance means putting it to work on other cleaning jobs around the house. There are several objects in your garage, pantry, and bedroom that are totally dishwasher safe—even if it doesn't explicitly say so on the "wash" instructions.

1. HUBCAPS

You could kneel down in your driveway to scrub your car’s wheels the old fashioned way—or you can pop off the hubcaps and put them through a quick wash cycle. Some sources recommend giving the hubcaps a quick rinse outdoors first to remove dirt, grass, and anything else that might clog the dishwasher. And of course, you never want to wash the hubcaps (or most things on this list) at the same time as any of your dishes.

2. TOOLS

Instead of buying special grime cleaner and polishing your dingy tools by hand, toss them in the silverware trays and let the detergent and water jets work their magic.

3. TOYS

You're probably better off not knowing how many germs (and which types) are living on the things your children touch on a daily basis—all you need to know is how to get rid of them. Some experts recommend placing rubber toys inside lingerie or dishwasher bags before tossing them in the dishwasher (just read the toys' labels first to make sure they won't melt under the high heat). And since a regular wash cycle may clean the toys but not fully sanitize them, you may want to run them through a "sanitize" cycle as well.

4. HAIRBRUSHES

The American Dental Association does not support the use of dishwashers to clean toothbrushes because the appliance may damage the bristles, but the brushes you use on your hair are a different story. The bristles on hairbrushes are usually much more sturdy, so the pressure from the dishwasher won’t be as harmful to them. Make sure you clean the hair out first, though, unless you want to find random strands on your plates for weeks to come (super gross).

5. SPONGES


In tests conducted by Good Housekeeping, running dish sponges through the dishwasher removed 99.9 percent of all germs, including 99.88 percent of salmonella and 99.86 percent of E. coli.

6. POTATOES


If you have a bunch of potatoes that need to be cleaned before a cookout, they can be piled into the top rack of the dishwasher for rinsing while you focus on other tasks. Do not add soap of any kind.

7. KEYS

Have you ever bothered to clean your house keys? Dropping them on the ground, sticking them into locks, and touching them with your dirty hands can cause dirt and germs to build up on the metal, so giving them a bath every once in a while would be smart. Remove any soft key chains or novelty elements, then toss them in the dishwasher. Make sure you dry them thoroughly afterwards because metal will rust.

8. KNOBS

If your metal or ceramic cabinet knobs and handles in the kitchen, pantry, or bathroom are removable, unscrew them and give them a nice hands-free scrub the next time you’re cleaning. Just don’t leave the screws attached to them because they could become dislodged and do serious damage to your machine.

9. FLIP FLOPS

Use the design to your advantage: Place flip flops in the machine sideways as you would plates, or hang them from the top rack by the toe strap. Some Croc-wearers warn that putting your Crocs through a wash will shrink them, though, so do some research on your own before sacrificing your sandals.

10. PET TOYS

Hard plastic and rubber toys are dishwasher safe, but some recommend running them through the cycle without soap.

11. DUST PANS

Where do you clean an object built for holding dirt? Dishwashers are designed to make eating surfaces safe, so it’s safe to say that they will do a sufficient job here, too.

Images via iStock