Can Stainless Steel Go in the Dishwasher? Do’s and Don’ts

We explain how to clean stainless steel pans in the dishwasher and help you understand which stainless steel can go in the dishwasher safely.

It’s tempting to throw everything in your dishwasher, but some things just shouldn’t go in there. Knowing which materials can and can’t hold up against the heat and humidity of a dishwasher will help you make your kitchenware last longer and save on replacements.

In this article, we explain the ins and outs of putting stainless steel in your dishwasher, plus we give you the tricks behind cleaning different types of stainless steel cookware in the dishwasher.

Can stainless steel go in the dishwasher?

Stainless steel is safe to go in the dishwasher. However, it is recommended that you place it in the top rack or the cutlery basket separated from other items to ensure thorough washing and drying.

Do dishwashers damage stainless steel?

Stainless steel has an inherent corrosion resistance created by its composition of iron and chromium. This means that dishwashers cannot easily damage stainless steel cookware and that stay free from rust.

What metal cannot go in the dishwasher?

As a general rule, you shouldn't put these metals in the dishwasher due to the possibility of damage or discoloration:

  • Aluminum cookware
  • Non-stick pots and pans
  • Cast iron and enameled cast iron
  • Copper pots, pans, or utensils
  • Gold-plated cookware
  • Antique or decorative metal


How to clean stainless steel in the dishwasher

Stainless steel pots and pans

  1. Pre-rinse: Before placing your stainless steel pots and pans in the dishwasher, rinse off any large food bits or debris. This will prevent them from getting stuck during the washing cycle.
  2. Load properly: Ensure your pots and pans are securely placed in the dishwasher so they won’t get tossed around or damaged during the cycle. Avoid stacking them too close together, as this can prevent the water and detergent from reaching all surfaces.
  3. Use suitable detergent: Look for a detergent specifically formulated for stainless steel or one labeled as safe for all types of cookware. 
  4. Use the right cycle: Choose a cycle appropriate for the level of cleaning your pots and pans need. For example, a heavy-duty cycle may be necessary if they're heavily soiled.
  5. Remove promptly: Once the cycle is complete, remove the pots and pans from the dishwasher and dry them off with a clean towel. This will help prevent water spots and streaks from forming on the surface.

Stainless steel cutlery

  1. Remove any food residue or large debris from your cutlery using a soft sponge or a paper towel.
  2. Load the cutlery into the dishwasher, placing the handles downward and the forks and spoons with the handles facing upwards to ensure that the dishwasher spray can reach all parts of the silverware.
  3. Use a dishwasher detergent that is specifically designed for stainless steel items. Some dishwasher detergents can be abrasive and may cause scratches or discoloration on the surface of the silverware.
  4. Avoid overloading the dishwasher, as this can prevent the water spray from reaching all parts of your cutlery, resulting in less effective cleaning.
  5. Run the dishwasher on a normal cycle with warm water to ensure the cutlery is cleaned thoroughly.
  6. Once the dishwasher cycle is complete, remove the cutlery and dry it with a soft cloth or let it air dry.

Stainless steel water bottles and travel mugs

  1. Remove any remaining liquid or residue from the stainless steel water bottle or travel mug by rinsing it out with hot water.
  2. Remove the cap, straw, and any other detachable parts, and wash them separately with hot, soapy water. This step also applies to hydro flasks.
  3. Load the stainless steel bottle and its detachable parts into the dishwasher. It's recommended to place them on the top rack to avoid any potential damage from the high-temperature water on the bottom.
  4. Add a mild dishwasher tablet to the dishwasher. Avoid using bleach or any abrasive cleaners that can scratch the stainless steel.
  5. Select the appropriate dishwasher cycle for the bottle. Usually, a regular cycle with warm-temperature wash and dry settings is suitable for stainless steel items. 

However, if you own a hydro flask, some older models' vacuum seal and insulating properties degrade when exposed to the high temperatures in the dishwasher. So, be sure your hydro flask is dishwasher-safe before using it.

  1. After the cycle is complete, remove the bottle and its detachable parts and dry them thoroughly.
  2. Once dry, reassemble the bottle and its detachable parts.

Keep your stainless steel clean

Use the cutlery basket that comes with most dishwashers to separate cutlery from other items that might corrode the stainless steel. However, if you're unsure whether a stainless steel item is dishwasher safe or not, it's advisable to be careful and wash it by hand if you can.

Beyond stainless steel cookware and cutlery, if you notice a bad smell coming from your dishwasher, it’s time to clean it. Read our other article on: How to clean your dishwasher when it smells bad or worse.

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