How To Cook Salmon In Your Dishwasher and Other Surprising Uses!

About a year ago our dishwasher RUDELY stopped working! I was actually quite upset with this appliance because it wasn’t that old. In PROTEST I decided I would simply stop using a dishwasher!  I’d show THAT appliance who was boss!!  HA! I ended up eating those words with a large helping of CROW! I was practically begging the hubster to find us a new/used one after less than a week.

Not surprisingly he was ALL FOR the idea…because as domestically blissful as it sounds to wash and dry the dishes together after a meal…it isn’t! :-)

Washing and drying everything by hand just made us grumpy. Grumpy and bitter.

Since that time I can honestly say I’ve never taken my dishwasher for granted. But I HAVE, apparently, underestimated its’ capabilities!! I recently came across several articles and forum threads listing surprising things you can use your dishwasher for BESIDES just washing dishes!

Some of them are little bit of a stretch…but a lot of them are downright SMART!  So I knew I had to share them with you….because I know you like smart ideas as much as I do. :-)

cap shaper

#1 Baseball caps.

This one is probably the ONLY thing I’ve ever heard of putting in the dishwasher that isn’t dishes. Makes sense. Baseball caps are usually ruined in the washing machine, but will hold their shape pretty well in the dishwasher, especially if you use a Cap Shaper thingie (this one is $6 on




#2 Potatoes.  

If you’re in charge of the mashed potatoes for the next Thanksgiving Dinner, instead of washing each one individually by hand….try placing them on the top rack of your dishwasher (NO soap!) and running them through on the rinse cycle. Makes mashed potatoes for a crowd MUCH quicker!



#3  Salmon.

Just wrap it well in foil with your favorite marinade. Make sure it is well sealed. Run an entire cycle, including dry. (Of course, do NOT add soap.) The salmon will be steamed perfectly, very moist and delicious with no smell in the kitchen at all.



#4  Garden Tools. 

Garden tools and household tools with plastic handles can go in the dishwasher. Wash them separately if they have had any chemicals on them.



#5  Sporting Equipment. 

Shin-guards, knee-pads and mouth-guards can all go on the top rack.



#6  Warming Oven.

If you’re entertaining and don’t have enough ovens to keep everything warm, just put the dishwasher on HEAT/DRY CYCLE, NO WATER and you have a makeshift “warming oven”.



#7  Vacuum Attachments.  

Shake loose dust into the trash first, stick the attachments in the silverware basket.

#8  Hairbrushes, Combs and Hair Accessories.

Hairbrushes and combs made of plastic can go in the cutlery tray, but not wood or natural boar-bristle brushes. Be sure to remove all the hair first to protect the drain.



#9 Plastic Toys.  

Little plastic toys and action figures can be tossed into the cutlery closure, plastic basket or in a mesh bag. Works for pet toys too!



#10  Flip Flops, Wellies, and Crocs. 

Run a wash with a little baking soda added to clean your plastic footwear.



#11  Vent Covers and Fan Grills.  

Instead of trying to clean inside all the grooves, remove them and run them through a dishwasher cycle.



#12  Window Screens.  

If it fits in the dishwasher you’ll save all that tedious detail washing and blast though dust and grime in one dishwasher cycle.




#13  Light Fixture Covers.

Wash on gentle setting. Much easier than dusting them.




#14  Refrigerator Shelving.  

Most modern refrigerator shelving is designed to be dishwasher safe (older appliances are likely not). Removal of the top dishwasher rack may be necessary to fit shelves in properly.


NOTE:  For most of these items, it’s best to wash them separately and not with your regular dishes.  And don’t forget to clean your dishwasher every few months (even if you’re not using it to clean anything but dishes!) to ensure your washer stays germ and bacteria free.

Some ideas and suggestions taken from and


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  1. kim says

    Great ideas. I often wash non-dish items in my dishwasher… light fixtures, vacuum attachments, etc. You have to be careful with things like vent covers if they are painted. I stuck a bunch of wall grates in my dishwasher and some of the paint started peeling.
    You can also wash running shoes/tennis shoes in the dishwasher. Wash on the top shelf with the laces stuck inside the shoes so they don’t get tangled in the spinny arm. I turn the heater element off and stick them out in the sun to dry.

  2. says

    Dishwashers are also great for washing and sanitizing dental appliances like tongue scrapers and re-usable interdental brushes (just take out the brush part and wash the handle in the silverware basket)!

  3. Colleen says

    I have never heard of the salmon idea. That’s ingenious, and another great way to cook when the weather is too hot to have the oven on! Love it. I do use the dishwasher for a few ‘non dish’ things, but have picked up some new ideas from this post. Thanks, Jilly! Just remember to consider how the pressure of the water might affect some items negatively. It’s easy enough to adjust the temperature of the water and the dry cycle, but the pressure from the water spray is typically static, and can be very intense. If you have a delicate or stemware cycle, consider using it for certain things.

  4. Heather says

    I love these ideas! I could just see myself saying “dinner is ready. Honey, will you get the salmon out of the dishwasher please?” LOL!! I’m infamous for putting kitchen sponges & toothbrushes in mine ;o)

  5. says

    I wash EVERYTHING in there. If it fits, I wash it.

    I used to use it to stearilize baby bottles. I still use it to wash, heat ball jars when canning. I don’t boil the jars I just pop those babies in the dish washer. I fill the clean hot jar with whatever i’m canning and process as normal.

  6. monique says

    If this works Ms. Jillee, I’m mailing you some of my world-famous gingerbread cookies! I’m going to try some tilapia in todays load AND oh heavens….I just put up a volkswagon full of peaches… I could have used this tip last week! My Husband makes fried chicken and keeps it warm in the oven which means, of course, I can’t make biscuits….I’m so excited about this tip I could kiss you! I’ll let you know how I get on!

  7. Michelle says

    If you have a gas stove, you can pop the burner covers/grates from the top into the dishwasher. They get burned-on gunky stuff. Just put them in wherever they fit, and they’ll come out nice and clean.

    I also put our regular toothbrushes in there periodically to sanitize them, especially if we’ve had colds or stomach bugs.

  8. Trudy Schneider says

    The fan cover from the stove – weekly, The strainer, scrubber, sponge, brush and any other sink items – some daily. Anything that doesn’t go in the washer, goes in the dishwasher in my house !! Even the dishrag can go on the top shelf with a cup on top. Comes out cleaner than the washer.

  9. Joelle says

    Never thought of this! Years ago when I lived on a farm, I used to grow piles of carrots. I washed them in my washing machine. Worked great! But I think the dishwasher would be better!

    • liza_jane says

      Love this idea! I can line mine with a THOUSAND bags, but there is always something disgusting that manages to escape and get inside the can! I’m DEFINITELY going to do this! Thanks!

  10. Kathy says

    I’ve put many of the items you listed into the dishwasher, including: vacuum cleaner filter, crocs, sponges, hair accessories (after cleaning the stray hair out of them, of course), and a few others. My dishwasher rocks!

  11. Rose Myrtle says

    It actually will save you money if you do it the regular way. Like washing potatoes, etc. It would be a lot cheaper instead of washing the easy stuff in the dishwasher, and it’s quicker to wash potatoes and some of the other stuff the regular way. They are neat ideas, though

  12. says

    I so hate to be Debbie Downer but dishwashers are one of the biggest fire hazards. Many have been known to have issues while not even operating. Putting anything in there other than glass, ceramic, metal, etc poses an additional and unnecessary risk. Plastics are especially dangerous since they melt so easily. I think all these ideas are very clever and cute but I’d hate for anyone to put themselves or home at risk.

    Even if your dishwasher weren’t to catch on fire, I shudder at the cost of replacing one that breaks!

    Be safe ladies

  13. Vickylynne says

    I love this!! We cannot put our pots an pans OR dishes in there…..neither are made to be washed in a dishwasher….and have contemplated just removing it all together. Maybe not….with these new ways to put it to some use loll. Thanks!

  14. says

    I have waned all those things (except potatoes and fish) in my various dishwashers over the years, plus my husband has been known to wash non-rusting car parts and model train parts. I am not convinced that fish actually gets hot enough to be cooked in a dishwasher– the water is not actually at boiling temp — but hey, what do I know?

    Somewhat related: if anyone has a pair of Merrill mesh clogs, they can be washed in the washer! I have done that with several pairs. I put the insoles into a separate mesh bag and throw them in, too. I dry everything in the sun or on the radiator afterwards.

  15. deniseinark says

    Love this. I’ve washed grills, grates, and light fixture covers in the dw for a long time. Back when I was cleaning houses, one of the special things I did for clients was clean these things that their other housecleaners hadn’t touched, and they loved it. I never thought about doing crocs and other shoes in there, though. That’s GENIUS! Even non-working dishwashers can be put to use as really FABULOUS draining racks. I actually prefer using the dishwasher instead of setting a drain rack on the countertop. One of these days our little camper will have a dishwasher. I didn’t think I’d miss mine as much, but I think I miss it every bit as much as the washing machine.

  16. Jamie says

    I’ve seen the fish thing and have been wanting to try it. You can use any type of fish actually. And I love to stick my fave white flip flops in there but now that I make my own dishwashing detergent it doesn’t work quite the same as with commercial brands. :(

  17. monique says

    OK….the fish came out great….a foil packet with lemon, butter, chives, tilapia…tasted fine even though I used the Dawn solution (that Ms. Jillee taught me!). Didn’t save any time really but it led to a fabulous phone call to my sister. We’re big Twin Peaks fans and a famous line from Twin Peaks is, “There was a fish, in the percolator!” Anywho I just had to say that I would refuse to die from dishwasher-related injuries Morgan. I wouldn’t have it. Do you work for OSHA?

  18. Deb says

    I tried the salmon in a foil packet (double sealed for safety) seasoned with olive oil, garlic, salmon seasonings as well as a little dill and lemon. (I used vinegar and citric acid in the dispenser to clean the dishes, just to be on the safe side) Upon removing the packet after drying time, a lovely aroma rose from the still-sealed little package. The fish was cooked, but not as hot as I would have liked, so I had to stick it under the broiler for a few, which sort of deflated me as I had the ‘crazy thing’ to live down in my husband’s mind! I am not sure I would try this again in my current dishwasher, but the issue may be that it is 10 years old!! However, this gave my hubby lots of material for the future as he comically described a scene where we could do hot dogs on all of the little dish rack spikes and buns on the top rack! Keep sending out those good ideas and WE will keep trying them!

  19. spitefulilsprite says

    I’ve heard of the food in the dishwasher tricks, but I can’t bring myself to try them. I love your tips but this is one I’ll have to pass on… that said, I put anything that will fit in my dishwasher in there to clean them, but I’ve never thought to put our flip flops in there. My daughter’s get so dirty so quickly, I’ll be doing this once a week from now on for sure! Thanks!

  20. Michelle M. says

    Love the ideas for alternate dishwasher uses. In a pinch, I’ll put my delicates, cotton t-shirts and lightweight t’s in a mesh laundry bag or old pantyhose, spritz w/ laundry soap and wash them in the dishwasher minus the heat dry setting and then air dry them. Great tip for any apartment dweller without the luxury of a washer/dryer hook-up.

  21. says

    I’m impressed, I must say. Really rarely do I see a blog that’s both educative and interesting, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is amazing ; the issue is something that not enough people are talking intelligently about. I am very happy that I came across this.

  22. Rita says

    I use the dishwasher as a dish drainer. I learned this from my sister. That way I don’t have dishes taking up counter space. There are only the two of us and we have pared down quite a bit. If we washed dishes in the dishwasher, it would have to a partial load. Since it’s expensive to run, we just run it every couple of months to make sure it till works and to keep it clean after draining dishes in it for weeks.

    I let them drain while the shelves are pulled out. If I need to close the dishwasher door for some reason like company coming or to reach over it, I dry the inside of the door first so that the water doesn’t go into the actual dishwasher and make a puddle. This works for us.

  23. zane says

    Just stumbled across this blog. Great ideas, all! I’ve washed just about everything in my dishwasher, though I have yet to try cooking in it. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is the lint filter from your clothes dryer. It gets a waxy build-up over a short amount of time, especially if you use dryer sheets, and can even create a fire hazard. (Try running some water over the filter if you don’t believe me! The water will bead up instead of flowing through it.) Just pull the filter out of the dryer and pop it in the dishwasher every once in a while — it will work better than ever!

  24. mary knight says

    I use the bottom rack from my old (broken) dishwasher now as a dish dryer rack on my counter next to the sink. It has a place for the silverware, dishes, scrubbies, pots, pans, everything that does not fit in a regular plastic dish drainer, no matter how deluxe. One day I will get a new dishwasher. Meanwhile, anyone who washes dishes by hand should use a bottom rack for draining/drying dishes! It’s the BEST.
    (I read your original blog and now am adding my tip belatedly, as it belongs here). I hope this helps someone. I love all the ideas posted above.

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