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Do you have a washing machine?

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Dog Bowls & 11 Other Things to Clean in the Dishwasher

Stop what you’re doing, free your hands, and give your dishwasher a round of applause! That guy deserves it – he’s one of the most important appliances in your house. If you’ve ever lived (or currently live) without this appliance, you know just how true that is! Not only does he make dinner clean up a pain-free chore, he can disinfectant oodles of household items.

Photo: sunshineceramics | Etsy

It’s easy to clean things other than dishes in your dishwasher, but don’t just start throwing every dirty toy and towel in the dishwasher! Follow this BrightNest rule of thumb: if someone in your family would cry over an item being lost or damaged, clean it by hand.

Note: It’s also best to avoid adding items with small nooks and crannies to your regular load of dishes because they can catch bits of food. Instead, give them their own cycle!

Here are 12 “other” dishwasher-safe items:

1. Pet Bowls 

You wash your dishes regularly to prevent the spread of bacteria, so do the same for your pup (or feline friend). It’s typically fine to load ‘em up with your other dishes, but if you have a small baby at home, we recommend you give your pet bowls their own cycle (babies don’t have established immune systems and can be more susceptible to different types of germs).

2. Light Fixtures 

If the glass on your light fixture has developed a heavy layer of ick, run the globes through a cycle on the top shelf of your dishwasher. Just keep in mind that the china and crystal of most light fixtures is more delicate than drinking glassware, so you’ll want more space between them. We also recommend giving these guys their own cycle. Note: If your globes have gold leaf or are antiques, it’s best to hand-wash them.

3. Faucet Handles

If your faucet handles are looking a little dingy, and you know how to easily remove them, cleaning them is a cinch. Remove the handles, throw them in the dishwasher and get those babies clean! The top rack is perfect for small items like this, and you can include them in your normal cycle along with your dishes.

4. Shower Heads

If you’ve unclogged your showerhead but it’s still looking worse for the wear, run it through the dishwasher. Put your showerhead on the top rack of the washer and run it through a “pots and pans” cycle.

5. Tools

Any tool (gardening tools count!) can be run through the dishwasher as long as they have a metal or plastic handle. Just make sure you towel-dry them immediately after the cycle to prevent rusting. Note: Tools should get their own cycle.

6. Plastic Brushes

Before you toss your hairbrushes in the dishwasher, remove the hair (or prevent it from building up entirely with pantyhose). Put the brushes in a mesh bag, and place the bag on the top rack of your dishwasher. They can be run through a normal cycle! Note: Don’t do this if your brushes have wooden handles or if the bristles are all-natural.

7. Rain Boots

After a heavy rainy season, you’ve probably convinced yourself that your boots are suppose to be mud-colored. Restore them to their former glory by running them through their own dishwashing cycle – just make sure to remove the liners first!

8. Baseball Caps 

A worn baseball cap is a symbol of pride for many men, but a head full of bacteria is nothing to be proud of! By cleaning the cap in the dishwasher, you’ll be able to keep the hat’s shape while also disinfecting it. Put hats on the top rack with the head opening face-down and give them their own cycle. Skip the dishwasher detergent and use borax instead, because some detergents will bleach the hat. Also, make sure you only do a wash cycle – the heated dry option could shrink the hat. Instead, let it dry on a towel.

9. Vent Covers

You probably inspect your air ducts at least once a year, but how often do you clean your vent covers? Remove residual dust by putting plastic, aluminum or steel vent covers through a normal cycle (they can go in with your other dishes). If your vent covers are enameled, painted or plated, keep them out of the dishwasher!

10. Plastic Toys

Your kid’s favorite plastic toys can get gross pretty quickly. To prevent the spread of bacteria during playtime, toss your all-plastic toys in a mesh bag and put them on the top rack. You can go ahead and wash them with your other dishes. Note: Barbie’s bod may be plastic, but her hair is not. Keep Barbie out of the mix to keep her locks lovely.

11. Sponges

Sponges can get really, really gross (here are the dirty details). Next time you run your dishwasher, throw your sponge on the top shelf. Run your dishwasher on the hottest cycle and be sure to dry the sponge thoroughly afterwards.

12. Salt and Pepper Shakers

Every now and then, it’s a good habit to clean your salt and pepper shakers. The thought of old salt and pepper is pretty unappetizing, and you really don’t want to sprinkle bacteria on your food. Just load them on the top rack of your dishwasher and run them through a normal cycle. Problem solved! 

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