12 things you didn’t know you could clean in the dishwasher

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The function of your dishwasher is pretty obvious: it’s right there in its name, after all. It’s for washing dishes. End of story. Right?

Well, yes. But there are lots of other things you can safely run through the dishwasher as well. Washing this stuff in the dishwasher is often and more effective than cleaning them by hand. (Unless otherwise noted, use the normal cycle.) Here are our top 10.

Baseball caps

Preserve that perfect peak in your ball cap’s brim by washing it in the dishwasher—tossing it into a standard washing machine can bend it out of shape. You can even get a ball cap washer insert to help it maintain its shape perfectly. Just don’t wash it with food-spattered dishes—you cap could get stained or trap little bits of food.

Plastic toys

Action figures and baby toys—anything without a battery—can be washed in a lingerie bag on the top rack. This is actually one of the best ways to clean toys, as it both washes and sanitizes them.

Rain boots and flip flops

Ugh. There’s nothing worse than grotty flip flops or sweat-infused rain boots. Give your plastic shoes a little love: take any liners out of the boots and lay them horizontally. Anchor flip flops on the top rack. Just a warning as you’re piling your plastics onto the racks, though—Crocs aren’t dishwasher safe.

Shin guards, knee pads and mouthguards

Stinky sports gear can be cleaned in the dishwasher—just use the top rack, and don’t use detergent.

Garden tools

Tools with metal or plastic handles will be fine in the dishwasher, as long as there isn’t a lot of rust or dirt built up. Avoid putting wood in, though, and towel dry them right away to prevent rusting. Just be sure not to wash tools that have come into contact with pesticides with a mixed load of tools and dishes.

Fan grilles and switch plates

Hate cleaning gunky fan grilles? Throw ’em in the dishwasher! Add in plastic vent covers and switch plates as well, just to save yourself the bother of cleaning up fingerprints. (You can decide whether getting the switch plates off and on the wall is a bigger bother than wiping them by hand.) Don’t include enamel or painted switch plates—they might not stand up to a wash cycle.

Potatoes

Yes, potatoes can be washed in the dishwasher. Stick them in the top rack, use a rinse-only cycle and no detergent. Voila—clean potatoes, ready for cooking. (This is probably most useful when you have to prep potatoes for a crowd.) Cook the potatoes (and any other root vegetables) in the dishwasher by wrapping them in foil and running another wash cycle (no detergent).

Computer keyboard

Remove the keys and put them in the utensil container, then wrap the USB connector in plastic. Lay the keyboard down on the top rack and let the wash cycle run. Just be sure the keyboard is dry before you put the keys back on.

Refrigerator shelves

Cleaning the fridge is hard enough without having to scrub the shelves by hand. Add them to the dishwasher so they can wash while you scrape out the stacks of fuzzy Tupperware.

Window screens

They’re a pain to clean by hand, so popping window screens in the dishwasher will save you a little frustration. You’ll be amazed what a difference clean screens make!

Fake flowers

Don’t throw your expensive silk flowers in the dishwasher, but if you’ve got plastic faux flowers, they’ll clean up nicely on the top rack with a short cycle.

Makeup brushes

These build up a whole lot of gunk, so pop them into the cutlery holder and wash away months of accumulated grime.