If you’re anything like me, you still remember the first apartment you rented that came with a dishwasher; after years of washing dishes by hand in the sink, the feeling of kicking your feet up and relaxing after dinner while the dishwasher did all the cleanup was pure magic.
But chances are good that over the years you’ve started to take your dishwasher for granted. You load it up with dirty dishes, hit the wash button, and walk away; you’ve forgotten how amazing this appliance really is. Prepare to be amazed again, because your dishwasher can do a whole lot more than clean plates.
One of the things we most often take for granted is that the dishwasher not only cleans dishes, but (many models) sanitize them as well. Those that come with a “sanitize” setting get extremely hot so that they can kill any germs that might be present. While this is a great feature for cleaning cups, dishes, and silverware, it’s also useful for a number of household items.
Many plastic baby and toddler toys (toys that are constantly in a child’s mouth) are dishwasher safe and can be sanitized in this way. Even plastic makeup brushes and hairbrushes (be sure to remove any excess hair first) can be cleaned this way.
Crazier still is the idea that you can cook food in your dishwasher. Believe it or not, many foil-wrapped foods can be steamed to perfection using the hot temperatures inside your dishwasher. The key here, obviously, is to wrap the food well to prevent it from becoming water-logged, and don’t use any soap. If your oven is full, items like lasagna can be cooked in your dishwasher in one to two cycles.
And, that’s just the beginning.
1. Sanitize Your Toothbrush
It’s good to clean your toothbrush from time to time, especially if you’ve just gotten over a cold. Tossing it in the dishwasher makes the task super easy.
2. Shine Your Hubcaps
You read that correctly; you can shine your hubcaps in the dishwasher. Simply load the hubcaps into your dishwasher with a cup of white vinegar (if you’re also cleaning the lug nuts, place them in a mesh bag before loading them into the dishwasher) and they’ll come out squeaky clean.
3. Clean Canvas Sneakers
Tired of hearing your Converse sneakers clunk around in the washing machine? Put them in the dishwasher instead. Just remove the liners before you wash them and skip the dry cycle (let the sneakers air-dry). After you’re done washing your sneakers, run the dishwasher without anything in it to clean it.
4. Cook vegetables
Healthy food in steamer, steam cooker with various vegetables and fruits (iStock)
This trick comes in handy around the holidays when you’re more likely to be cooking for a large group and maxing out the space in your oven. Try cooking vegetables like broccoli or carrots in foil packets or steaming foil-wrapped potatoes or yams.
5. Poach Salmon
And, while you’re at it, why not throw some fish in the dishwasher too? That way you can make a complete meal. Just be sure, as with the vegetables, that the fish is wrapped tightly in foil.