Since it’s spring (or trying to be, here in rainy Vermont), here are some (not-necessarily-just-spring-cleaning) tips about items you can put in the dishwasher. Some will be surprising!
• Baseball hats: Set your dishwasher to the least warm temperature setting and be sure to turn off the drying cycle, which can damage hats. Forms to help hats keep their shape are available through some retail businesses, but that’s not necessary if you remove hats and reshape them for drying.
• Light switch covers: Once a year, unscrew them all for a good cleaning. Be sure to put the screws in a safe place so you don’t lose them.
• Hair brush: Use your fingers or a comb to pull out as much hair as possible, so the drain won’t get clogged.
• Flip flops: Wash away dirt and grime in a quick cycle.
• Plastic succulents: It can be nearly impossible to dust a fake succulent — especially where the leaves connect. Luckily the dishwasher can hit all those hard-to-get places.
• Sponges: You may have heard that you can microwave a sponge to sanitize it, but that actually is a fire hazard. A safer bet? Place it in the dishwasher with your regular load of dishes.
• Plastic toys: Did you know that plastic toys (that don’t use batteries) can be sanitized in the dishwasher?
• Silicone oven mitts: All things silicone can go in the dishwasher, which means your mitts can get a bath.
• Refrigerator shelves: You could take these out and scrub them by hand, or you can more easily wash them in the dishwasher. Smaller shelves will fit standing up (like your plates), but a bigger shelf might need to lay across the rack.
• Ceramic cabinet hardware: These knobs are notorious for collecting germs. Also, if they have textured patterns, the grooves might collect even more unwanted “friends.” Instead of scrubbing them with a toothbrush, unscrew and place them in the utensil holder of the dishwasher.