How to Know If a Dish Is Dishwasher Safe

You’ve no doubt experienced the frustration of running a load of dishes only to realize a handful of them were warped during the cleaning process. Especially if you picked up some rather expensive dishware, realizing that you washed something you shouldn’t have is jarring.

Unfortunately, even if a dish is labeled as being dishwasher safe, that’s not always the case. If you’re worried about washing a piece of dishware, here’s what you need to know.

Safety indicators

Naturally, the first step in determining whether or not a dish can safely go through the washer is by checking it over for any labels or indicators. Most commonly, these are located on the bottom of the dish but, depending on the manufacturer, they may be placed on the sides. However, not all dishes that are dishwasher safe are labeled that way, and some that aren’t dishwasher safe is labeled that way. Sounds a bit confusing, doesn’t it?

Dishes and cookware with non-stick coatings are a little trickier. Oftentimes, these dishes aren’t labeled as to whether or not they’re dishwasher safe. This means that you’re running the risk of damaging some fairly expensive pots and pans if you’re not careful.

However, if your cookware was made in the past several years, chances are the non-stick finish used on it can withstand the high temperatures of your dishwasher. Not sure if you should put a dish through the wash? Err on the side of caution and wash it by hand instead.

Unsafe materials

While plenty of glass and ceramic dishes are safe and can withstand rising dishwasher temperatures, there are a handful of dish materials that generally shouldn’t go through a dishwasher under any circumstances.

One of them is wood. After spending an hour chopping up vegetables for dinner, surely the last thing you want to do is hand wash your wooden cutting board. However, if you simply rinse it and toss it into the dishwasher, the intense heat can cause it to warp and crack. While some light warping might not bother you, the cracks can spread and eventually break your cutting board.

Another dish type that should never go through a dishwasher is anything made of cast iron. This is for two primary reasons, the first of which is the cookware’s seasoning. Cast iron is particularly prized among chefs due to its unique ability to retain flavors and impart them upon the food it is used to cook. When a piece of cast iron retains flavor, it’s known as being “seasoned.” If you put it in a dishwasher, it loses that built-up flavor. And unlike many other metal dishes, cast iron is particularly prone to rust which can affect the flavor of the food you cook in it, as well as stain the interior of your dishwasher.

There are several other materials that shouldn’t be found in a dishwasher. Fine china and delicate crystal dishes and glassware often can’t stand up to the heat of a dishwasher, and since these are pricier pieces, it’s better to hand wash them. While aluminum doesn’t rust as easily as cast iron, it’s incredibly prone to scratching and the heat can dull the metal’s natural shine. Also, dishwashing insulated mugs and thermoses can break their vacuum seal as well as their ability to keep drinks warm.

When to hand wash

Knowing when to hand wash is fairly simple: If you’re ever concerned about whether or not to put a dish through the dishwasher, your best bet is to hand wash it. Dishware is often a lofty investment and you want every piece in your collection to last for several years so you get your money’s worth. Do you feel that a certain plate or wine glass won’t survive the dishwasher? Then it’s better not to risk it.

Understand that hand washing has its pitfalls too. Even if you have a garbage disposal, certain foods can gunk it up and back up your plumbing. While it’s important to try and compost or dispose of all food scraps, it’s natural that some of it will make its way down your drain. If you’re ever dealing with backed up plumbing or issues with your dishwasher like standing water, lack of hot water, or clogged pipes, contact plumbers at local companies like All-Phase Plumbing to keep your sinks and appliances running the way they should.

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