Dishwashing safe products can save time

In her book The Simple Living Guide, Janet Luhrs suggests that people wash their dishes by hand. I like Janet Luhrs and agree with most things that she says, but when I read this piece of advice I laughed aloud. I grew up in a house without a mechanical dishwasher, and my daily chore was to wash the dishes by hand. Every night, for more than 10 years, as I stood with my hands immersed in soapy water, I dreamed of owning a dishwasher. I pledged that in my adulthood I would never wash my dishes by hand.

In the present, if I didn’t have a dishwasher, I cannot imagine how disorganized and dirty my kitchen would be. One of the things about committing to a dishwasher lifestyle, though, is that it limits what I can buy for my kitchen. The everyday plates and cups are almost always dishwasher safe, but many items beyond the basics typically are not recommended for the dishwasher.

If you’re just starting out or are a fan of the dishwasher like me, here are a few dishwasher-friendly, beyond-the-basics, kitchen products that I have found and use:

Stemless stemware. These wine glasses and champagne flutes have no stems so they easily fit in the top drawer of a dishwasher. They also save space in the cupboard.

All-Clad Stainless Cookware. The all-stainless version of this cookware is the only type that can go into the dishwasher. I registered for this when I got married and a kind family member bought it for me. It has held up wonderfully with constant dishwashing.

White Bone China. Surprisingly, plain-white china can be safely cleaned in the dishwasher. It’s durable and can easily be dressed up or down. I use my set all the time, and pair it with colorful chargers when entertaining. There’s no need to have two sets of dishes with one set as convenient and versatile as these.

Unfortunately, I do not have a knife set to recommend. I currently have a Henckels set and put the knives in the dishwasher against the suggestion of the manufacturer. I have been throwing them into the dishwasher for more than five years and the handles haven’t split. However, I expect to need to replace them earlier than they would have needed to be had I been washing them by hand all these years. If someone has a suggestion for a dishwasher-friendly knife set, please feel welcome to leave it in the comments. I’ve read the packaging on many stainless handle knives and found that they also suggest being washed by hand (Kitchen Aid, Ginsu, etc.).


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2007.

18 Comments for “Dishwashing safe products can save time”

  1. posted by Scott on

    Cooks Illustrated has tested and occasionally recommended (and my local restaurant supply store carries) Lamsonsharp knives. They have a “NSF” certified set that is dishwaher safe. Note that you’ll probably have to have the knives sharpened more frequently than usual if they get machine washed. Bonus – Lamsonsharp is made in USA and generally less expensive than your (and my) current manufacturer.

    I believe that most (all?) NSF certified products are dishwasher safe.

  2. posted by cf on

    If you cant find the time to hand-wash your high-quality kitchenware, you need to seriously re-evaluate your life. Just wash the damn things by hand, and quit trying to be MacGyver.

  3. posted by Erin on

    cf — I believe the exact opposite to be true. I highly value not washing the dishes so that I can spend the time on valuable moments in life (time with my family, enjoying conversations around the dinner table, etc.). In my opinion, life is too short (even if I live to be over 100) to waste time washing dishes by hand. I imagine that years from now, looking back on my life, I will treasure the moments shared in good company with others much more than my moments washing dishes.

  4. posted by Andamom on

    I’m also not a fan of washing things by hand. Interestingly, even though I bought a container for bottle parts (nipples, tops, etc.) to make our lives easier, my husband who is well-acquinted with growing up disherwasherfree prefers to wash all parts by hand.

    With kids though, I don’t see the point of using dishware or utensils that are not dishwasher-friendly. So, we use plastic cups, tupperware, dishes from Ikea, inexpensive steak knives and stainless steel utensils. Even our glassware is safe… If it can survive dinner with the kids a the table, it can make it through the washer.

  5. posted by TallDave on

    Wash. Rinse. Dry. Put away.
    Four people doing the dishes. Its called family time. πŸ™‚

  6. posted by Colin on

    Maybe it’s my Calvinist Scottish upbringing, but the idea of shortening the lifespan of good knives for wont of 5 minutes with a sponge seems wasteful. Why not just buy cheaper versions of everything so that it doesn’t matter when they are spoilt? Likewise, who ruled that washing dishes and after dinner conversation are incompatible?

  7. posted by Sean on

    The place we live in now is without a dishwasher – I thought it was going to be a nightmare at first but for the last two years everything we have use in the kitchen has been lovingly hand washed. It has really instilled in me a sense of economy when preparing meals, where as once I might have used two bowls for something without thinking now I will only use one since that it one less I have to clean. Of course, this is all going out the window soon as the condo we are moving to in two weeks has a dishwasher and I am going to be firing that baby up every night!

  8. posted by Raf on

    Like the author, I spent the first 20 years of my life handwashing the dishes. My junior year in college, I moved into newly constructed campus housing with a dishwasher included.

    Wow, talk about a productivity surge. All I had to do was leave the dishes to soak in the sink and last thing before going to bed, load the dishwasher and whammo, clean dishes in the morning.

    Now, I have a more balanced view. Using a dishwasher and handwashing is rather akin to doing laundry with your clothes. The stuff you use everyday, you throw into the dishwasher/clotheswasher. The knifeset that’s been passed down, or the cast iron set that you bought for x amount, that’s like the stuff you wouldn’t dare throw with the rest of your clothes. That’s what you hand wash.

    Why does it have to be an either or choice? Who says that you can’t use both according to the specific item? Hmmm?

  9. posted by Kirk on

    In my personal Pleasantville the family (or couple) would cooperatively wash/rinse/dry/store the dishes each night. This would increase the sense of economy and community, instill a work ethic, and be faster and more energy efficient than loading, running, and then unloading a dishwasher.

    My girlfriend really likes using the dishwasher though, and we sporadically debate over which technique is more appropriate. Raf’s balanced approach is great, but with only two of us sometimes the dishwasher doesn’t fill up fast enough and β€” ewww β€” food bits dry on the dishes. Then you end up washing them by hand anyway. Doing a preliminary wash seems silly because why not spend an extra three seconds and finish the job?

    Having on of those split dishwashers would be ideal, but that isn’t in the budget right now. Someday….

  10. posted by Jeannette on

    Interestingly, even the dishes I have that aren’t labelled as “dishwasher safe” have no problems being run through the dishwasher, as long as I don’t use the superstinky acidic “rinse agent”.

  11. posted by A on

    Washing lots of dishes by hand is less environmentally friendly than using the dishwasher — the dishwasher can be much more economical with use of water and heat.

  12. posted by Donna on

    Washing a full load in the dishwasher, and then setting it for “air dry,” will save more water and heat than washing by hand. I’m a single woman, and I wash only once every four or five days. In the meantime, dishes are out of sight in the washer.

  13. posted by Erika on

    I recently got married and we like to have friends over for dinner at least once a week. I made sure to register for all dish-washer safe kitchen items because I would rather spend quality time with family and friends (and go to bed at a reasonable hour after a party) than have pretty dishes. There are a select few items (my knives; heirloom pieces) that I do handwash, but after cooking a fine meal, then enjoying the company of friends, the last thing I want to do is spend another hour hand washing with hubby. Our closest friends will even help us clean up, but while hand washing can be family time too, just cleaning the kitchen and loading the dishwasher from a dinner for 15 is quite enough of that type of “bonding time” for me.

    In fact, I like to throw other things in the dishwasher too. Like my hairbrushes once in a while, desk pen holder, bathroom soap dish and toothbrush holder, the rubber duckie, cleaning scrub brushes, even the cup-holder from my car.

    Now what I would LOVE is an “all top shelf” dishwasher, because I find I load the top shelf more quickly than the bottom, so as to not shorten the life span of kinves, plastics or delicate things.

  14. posted by Holly on

    Ironically, running a (full, air-dry) cycle on a dishwasher uses significantly less water than hand-washing. And because of the hotter water used, I do believe that dishes get more sanitized – something that might be important when washing things like baby bottles. Not to mention that dish sponges are HAVENS for germs.

    That said, I still wash certain things by hand, either because they’re valuable, or delicate, or too big to make sense taking up room in the dishwasher.

    I’ve also learned that lemon/citrus dishwashing products can cause reactions with certain metals – lost a cheap but nice set of flatware that way.

  15. posted by KateCoe on

    There’s lots of china that’s dishwasher safe, and it’s not all plain white. Gold trim will eventually see some wear and tear in the dishwasher, but I’d rather have tarnished antique china than dull white made in China. The greenest product is one that doesn’t need to be made.

  16. posted by Elizabeth on

    Different people have different ideas of family time (mine is board games). For those of us who would rather not spend their time hand-washing the dishes, here are two more dishwasher tips.

    1) Almost all bone china can go in the dishwasher, not just white. What does NOT go in: china edged in gilt or gold or silver.

    2) Believe it or not, silver and silver-plate can go in the dishwasher so long as it does not come in contact with any other metal. I promise. I learned this from a cousin who is a scientist, held my breath and tried it, and have never gone back!

    And thanks for a helpful blog. Now would you like to come over and redo my apartment for me, please?

  17. posted by Amy Pagnozzi on

    Dishwasher Alternative that’s faster than DW:
    A restaurant quality pre-rinse sprayer, made by commercial company such as Fisher, etc. Can cost $300 but I got mine for $87 including shipping. Forget about scouring, in most instances — use this on your fine family China, it will spray-blast the pattern right off!
    I have a great old super-deep cast iron double farm sink. I toss all the dirty dishes into one side filled with water to which I have added not dish, but powdered, box LAUNDRY Soap — wow, does it dissolve grease, make things sparkle, and clean all stains off the sink! No water spots, either.

    This is an excellent solution if you live in an apartment or condo where you aren’t allowed to install a dishwasher or if, in my case, you have a tiny little galley kitchen and you need the dishwasher’s floorspace for something else (a second-hand booth from a diner in my case, but more cabinet storage always works, too).

  18. posted by Morfydd on

    I like doing dishes. I find it very soothing – once in a while. When I have to do it every day… it doesn’t get done.

    The Fisher Paykel Dishdrawers are fabulous for me, living by myself. I run the top drawer once a week or so for just my dishes, and both drawers every week when I host a dozen people for Tuesday dinners.

    BTW, I run everything through the dishwasher, and it had better survive. (It’s like my gardening philosophy – it had better be tough to make it.)

    A few years ago I got rid of my “daily” dishes and use only the silver-trim, colored bone china, which is doing just fine. The silver trim on the Waterford is pretty trashed, which actually works ok as it’s easier to find the plain-rim version when replacing. I’ll make that tradeoff as I’d probably break more pieces hand-washing along the way.

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