5 Things You Can Clean in Your Dishwasher (That Aren't Dishes)
Using the machine is more efficient than hand washing, especially if you run full loads. So, next time you've got some room, consider tossing in one of these extras...
The Bathroom Germ Catcher
The benign-seeming toothbrush holder is one of the dirtiest items in the house: The average holder is crawling with more than 2 million cells of bacteria. If yours is made from brushed stainless steel or plastic, you can put it in the dishwasher (once, or even twice, a week is ideal). But don't put your toothbrush in; the ADA says the machine could damage it and make it less effective.
Your Sweaty Workout Accessories
You could run your sweat-stained running hat through the washing machine, but even on the gentle cycle, the agitation might warp the brim. Instead, try the dishwasher. Dana White, who writes about cleaning at ASlobComesClean.com, puts baseball caps and visors on the top rack, secures them in place with clothespins, and uses the machine's longer "Sanitize" setting (even if yours doesn't have that option, the hat will come clean in a regular wash). You can use regular dishwashing detergent, as long as it does not contain bleach. When the cycle is finished, White puts hats over pitchers or small bowls to dry.
The Beloved Companion of Children and Pets
Toddlers often love their toys so much that they happily gnaw on them, but research shows infection-causing bacteria can live on plastic dump trucks and tea sets for surprisingly long periods of time. Small toys that don't have batteries can usually go in the dishwasher, says home-keeping blogger Becky Rapinchuk of Clean Mama who authored The Organically Clean Home. A lidded basket can keep small parts from getting lost. (You can throw most dog toys in, too, as long as they are plastic.)
The Appliance That Needs TLC to Keep You Healthy
While pumping moist air into your bedroom can help your sinuses and skin in dry climates and seasons, humidifiers can also have the opposite effect when they aren't properly maintained. If you have one that's dishwasher-safe, the tank and tray are probably fine on the top rack. With daily use, a good rule of thumb is to wash the tank and tray daily, or at least every other day.
Photo: Sergey Perterman/Hemera/Thinkstock
The Unexpectedly Gross Kitchen Knobs You Use Every Day
We were surprised to learn that stove dials rank higher fridge-door handles and/or microwave keypads when it comes to the level of unsavory substances they attract. Turns out the controls that adjust your range's heat are quite dirty, since you often touch them when your hands are contaminated with food, and they're harder to wipe clean than those on other surfaces. Many dials can go in the dishwasher (check your stove's owner's manual); the 130- to 170-degree water will disinfect the bacteria from raw chicken and anything else.