3 of My Own Dishwasher Rules That I Often Break

published May 3, 2022
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A person loading dishes into a dishwasher
Credit: Joe Lingeman

I have some pretty stringent kitchen rules in my home. 

From maintaining dedicated counter zones and an unswerving kitchen shut down routine to insisting that kitchen cleanup happens according to certain steps, I’m a stickler for doing things my way in my kitchen. (I swear I’m fun to cook and clean with too!). Making sure that our kitchen cleaning chores happen in a specific, purposeful way helps keep our often chaotic seven-person household’s kitchen humming. 

While, surprisingly, I’m not one of those people who re-organizes the dishwasher if it’s loaded “wrong,” I have always had a list of what does and doesn’t go in the dishwasher. Of course, there are items that shouldn’t go in the dishwasher, such as delicate glassware, enameled pots and pans, fine knives, anything wooden, and anything labeled “handwash only.” 

But I’d created my own list of things that don’t go in the dishwasher. According to my personal kitchen rules, in addition to the ones above, not a single bit of plastic was allowed in the dishwasher. Neither were pots and pans of any kind or anything that we only had one of (like the measuring cup or salad tongs). 

I had my logic and reasons. (If no plastic is allowed in the dishwasher, nothing will accidentally get warped. Pots and pans take up too much needed space. If the measuring cup is in the dishwasher and you need it, you’ll have to wash it before you use it and that’s annoying.) But I recently realized that maybe my rigid requirements to dishwasher entry were actually holding us up in the kitchen rather than helping. 

So little by little, I relaxed my dishwasher rules, which actually helped me stress a little less too. Here are the ways I “broke” the rules while still staying within the normal dishwasher safety parameters. 

1. Some plastic can go in the dishwasher.

Check your plasticware, as most of it will come imprinted with directions about whether or not it’s safe to put in the dishwasher. Putting my plastic food storage lids on the top rack in the dishwasher has cut down dishwashing time for me. (And eliminated those still-greasy lids that sometimes happen with hand-washing.) 

2. It’s OK to throw handy kitchen utensils in the dishwasher.

Putting the tongs, serving spoons, measuring cups and spoons, and even the spoon rest in the dishwasher cuts down your hand-washing time significantly. Yes, there’s a chance that if you need the item again before the dishwasher has been run, you’ll need to wash it by hand, but I learned this still takes less time than never putting these dishwasher-safe items in the dishwasher and hand-washing them all all the time. 

3. Stainless steel pots and pans are dishwasher-safe.

It’s best not to put nonstick, aluminum, cast iron, and copper cookware in the dishwasher. But many other kinds of pots and pans, including stainless steel, can be safely run through the dishwasher, so I gave in and started doing that more too. 

Re-examining my rules around what was allowed in the dishwasher (and what was not) has allowed me to preserve my reasons for having kitchen guidelines in the first place: helping everything in the kitchen run without a hitch. Loosening them up has surprisingly simplified our entire kitchen cleanup routine and given my family more time to enjoy that clean-kitchen feeling together.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 3 Personal Dishwasher Rules I Break (A Little) Sometimes