Plastic in the Dishwasher? I Don’t Think So

Chlorine’s Not a Good Choice Either!

Do you ever have dishwasher confusion? In other words, you’re not sure if something should go on the top rack or the bottom—or if it can even go in the dishwasher at all?

These handy reminders can help bring some clarity to the situation:

  • “When in doubt, leave it out!” In other words if you’re not sure, then wash the item by hand. You’d hate to ruin a piece of fine china by accidentally chipping it in the wash cycle.
  • See Martha Stewart’s complete list of dishwasher no-no’s here.
  • Note that she specifies “disposable plastics not labeled dishwasher safe” shouldn’t go in the dishwasher. However, just to be extra safe, I never put any kind of plastic in the dishwasher—that way I avoid any harmful chemicals that might be prone to leaching out.
  • I especially appreciated Martha’s tip about making sure your detergent doesn’t contain chlorine. Please note that chlorine is sometimes also referred to as “sodium hypochlorite” or “hypochlorite” so watch out for those terms on product labels.
  • Why is chlorine in the dishwasher a problem? Doesn’t it just rinse off? Here’s what I learned: The chlorine in dishwasher detergents (and laundry detergents too) can actually lead to air pollution in your home. The chlorinated water undergoes a process called volatilization, where the chlorine molecules are transferred into the surrounding air. When you open your dishwasher, if you smell that bleachy smell, those chemicals are probably getting into your lungs.

As for where to place items in your dishwasher, has some good advice:

  • Use the lower rack for plates, large bowls, pots and pans. The upper rack is for glasses, cups and utensils. Put your silverware in the silverware rack (duh), along with your measuring spoons and small utensils.
  • And this was news to me, but you don’t necessarily have to load your dishes facing toward the center. Just make sure not to block the rotating spray arms, don’t block the detergent dispenser door and make sure your dishes don’t touch or overlap one another.
comment_2Do you have more good advice for loading the dishwasher to get dishes their cleanest? Our readers want to know! Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


You can wash plastic items in the top rack of the dishwasher.

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