Ultimate Guide to the Dishwasher-Safe Symbol
We’ve all been there: you thought something was safe to put in the dishwasher, and it came out hot and ruined.
Today you’ll learn the secret to never ruining another item in your dishwasher again and how to look for a dishwasher-safe symbol.
Here’s what to look out for.
Look for the Dishwasher-Safe Symbol
If you see this dishwasher safe symbol on a kitchen item, you’ll know it’s safe to place it in the dishwasher. Usually the symbol is located at the bottom of an item.
This is not to be confused with other symbols commonly found on kitchen items, shown below.
This symbol means that the item is suitable for storing food. It has no bearing on whether the item is safe to place in the dishwasher and is not a dishwasher safe symbol.
When you find this symbol on the bottom of an item, you’ll it’s safe to use in the microwave. But what’s safe for the microwave isn’t necessarily safe for the dishwasher.
What if there is no dishwasher-safe symbol?
If the item you need to wash has no dishwasher-safe symbol, then there’s only one (very easy) thing to do.
Get some dish soap and wash it by hand.
We recommend choosing a dish soap that doesn’t include harsh chemicals, as most conventional brands unfortunately do.
Most dish soaps leave behind a chemical film on your dishes that mixes in with your next meal and enters your body where it harms your organs.
You can avoid that by finding a natural dish soap right here.
Learn more in this video:
Find out more information on our home page.
To make things easier, we’ve also prepared a list of items that should never go in the dishwasher. These items don’t come with a dishwasher safe symbol and should always be washed by hand instead (here are tips on how to do a perfect job hand-washing the dishes).
Never place in dishwasher
1. Cheese graters: The cheese residue that sticks around on graters is too much for dishwashers to handle. You have to get out your dish soap and wash the grater by hand (no symbol for dishwasher safe).
2. Sieves. The small holes in them make it impossible for dishwashers to remove all of the food residue. The best approach is to soak it in water for a few minutes and then remove the residue with a dish brush, before washing as normal with dish soap.
3. Non-stick pans. The coating on non-stick pans commonly contain chemicals like perfluorooctanoic acid and polytetrafluoroethylene. A dishwasher can easily damage the coating on those pan. When that happens, the next time you cook, those toxins can seep into your food and into the air you breathe. There’s definitely no dishwasher safe symbol on non-stick pans and it’s best to wash them gently by hand.
4. Garlic presses. Garlic residue is sticky, and dishwashers are no good at getting it out of the crevices of a garlic press. This item must be hand-washed.
5. Utensils containing glue. It is best to wash by hand any kitchen item that contains parts (such as handles) that are glued on. The high temperature inside dishwasher can easily remove the glue and ruin those utensils.
6. If you glued back together any dishes it’s best to wash them by hand because the heat inside dishwashers may melt the glue.
7. Cast iron never comes with a dishwasher safe symbol. The harsh detergents used in dishwashers will damage the non-stick surface of a seasoned cast-iron pot or pan. It’s best to wash any cast iron kitchen items by hand.
8. You’re not gonna find any symbol for dishwasher safe on sink stoppers. The drains of kitchen sinks are packed with bacteria, and sink stoppers are loaded with them. Washing the sink stopper inside your dishwasher would spread the bacteria all over your dishes.
9. Pet dishes. Our pets are part of the family, but certain bacteria in pets are harmful to humans. Placing pet dishes inside a dishwasher will spread the bacteria on all of the dishes inside the dishwasher. For people with a healthy immune system, it’s a gamble: maybe you’ll be fine and your immune system will come out stronger for it, or maybe you’ll get sick. If anyone in your household has a weak immune system, though, washing pet dishes in the dishwasher could be potentially life-threatening.
10. Fragile items. Anything that could break easily, such as wine glasses and fine china, should get washed by hand.
11. Dishes with hand-painted decoration. These need to be hand washed.
12. Any dishes with metal trim decoration should get washed by hand to prevent the metal from fading.
13. Wood. Nothing made of wood should ever go in the dishwasher. The harsh detergent and heat inside the dishwasher can ruin the wood’s finish, and the extreme moisture make the wood absorb too much water. When it dries out, it will develop cracks. Inside those cracks, bacteria will start growing and get all over your food the next time you use the item. (Find out how to wash and sanitize wooden kitchen items here).
14. Knives have no dishwasher safe symbol. Dishwasher are notorious for dulling knives. It’s best to wash them by hand.
15. Baking mats. As convenient as they are for baking, dishwashers tend to break them down over time. You’ll need to use some dish soap on those.
16. Pressure-cooker lids. A pressure cooker can only work if the seal fits snugly. When you put a pressure-cooker lid in the dishwasher, the high heat will warp and damage that seal-- and your pressure cooker will no longer work properly (no symbol for dishwasher safe on this one).
17. If you glued back together any dishes it’s best to wash them by hand because the heat inside dishwashers may melt the glue.
18. Other items that aren’t dishwasher safe include crystalware, milk-glass, anything gold-colored, brass and bronze items, aluminum cookware, plastic items that do not have a dishwasher-safe symbol, thermoses, acrylic dishware, measuring cups with measurement units printed on the side, and anything bearing a paper label (no symbol for dishwasher safe on those items).
Now you know what is (or isn't) dishwasher safe.
Most importantly, you now know what symbol to look out for when you’re unsure whether an item can go into the dishwasher.
And for items that don’t have a symbol, you now have our handy-dandy list of items that should never go in the dishwasher.
When you need to hand-wash an item, remember to only use natural dish soap.
Most conventional dish soap contains harsh ingredients that leave behind a toxic film that mixes in with your food and ends up harming your organs.
You can avoid that by using a natural alternative.
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