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If you don’t have access to a washing machine or you’re trying to save time, you might be wondering:
Can I wash clothes in the dishwasher?
The short answer is no. Never wash clothes in the dishwasher. The extremely hot water and harsh detergents will damage the clothes, and the clothes can tangle and break the dishwasher. Plus, dishwashers aren’t designed to agitate fabrics like washing machines, so your clothes won’t get clean.
Need another reason? Washing clothes in the dishwasher is considered misuse and, in most cases, voids the manufacturer’s warranty.
Bottom line — don’t put clothes in the dishwasher.
In this quick guide, you learn:
- Five reasons why you should never put clothes in the dishwasher
- What dishwasher manufacturers say about putting clothes in a dishwasher
- What you can do instead
Let’s dive in!
Use the links below to navigate:
- 5 Reasons Why You Should Never Wash Clothes in a Dishwasher
- What Dishwasher Manufacturers Say
- What to Do Instead of Washing Your Clothes in the Dishwasher
- Final Thoughts
5 Reasons Why You Should Never Wash Clothes in a Dishwasher
If you search online, you’ll eventually find blogs and videos stating that it’s okay to wash clothes in a dishwasher. Don’t believe it. Below are five reasons why you should never wash clothes in a dishwasher.
- You’ll Damage Your Clothes
Dishwasher detergent, while it breaks up oils and dirt like laundry detergent, is formulated differently than laundry detergent. It’s not made to clean fabrics and can damage them.
Dishwasher detergents are intended for food and grease. The formula has a higher pH level, often contains bleach, and is far too harsh for fabrics.
Laundry detergent is tough and effective yet gentle on fabrics and colors. Most laundry solutions have a neutral pH and are formulated with various surfactants, enzymes, starches, fats, and water-soluble polymers. You can’t use laundry detergent in the dishwasher as it will sud up, overflow, and damage your dishwasher.
Another reason why you can’t wash clothes in your dishwasher is due to the high water temperature. Dishwasher temperatures reach much higher than washing machine cycles.
The water temperatures in dishwashers can easily reach 170 degrees when using the sanitization cycle, which is far too hot for washing clothing. Temperatures this high can break down clothes, shrink items and run colors. In comparison, an eco cycle on a washing machine only reaches around 70 degrees.
At the end of their cycles, many dishwashers use heated drying. This hot air isn’t intended for clothes.
Finally, if food scraps line the dishwasher or drain, these particles can stain your clothes. Of course, if you wash your clothes in the dishwasher at the same time as dirty dishes, you’ll have an extensive mess on your hands.
Here’s the bottom line: the dishwasher is manufactured to clean dishes, not clothes.
2. You’ll Damage the Dishwasher
Damaging clothes is annoying and costly. But damaging the dishwasher is an even more expensive mistake.
If you wash clothes in the dishwasher, you’re running the risk of breaking it.
Clothing can get tangled inside the dishwasher and wrap around the spray arm or fall off the rack and clog the drain.
If your dishwasher has an exposed heating element at the bottom, the clothes could start a fire.
Finally, the detergent can cling to the clothes and not rinse away properly, leading to buildup and damaging the dishwasher.
3. You’ll Void the Dishwasher’s Warranty
Most dishwashers have excellent warranties, spanning up to 10 years, depending on the brand.
These warranties cover you in case of problems or defects with the electrics, motor, cycles, or construction. However, if you misuse the product, you’ll void the warranty, leaving you footing the entire bill of repair or replacement.
For example, GE says it will not cover repair or replacements if the product has been abused, misused, or used for anything other than its intended purpose.
Samsung, as another example, won’t cover accidents or damages caused by misuse. Therefore, if you wash clothes in your dishwasher and it breaks, your warranty is void.
4. Your Clothes Won’t Clean or Dry Properly
If you wash your clothes in the dishwasher, they won’t clean or dry properly.
Washing machines include a spinning function that agitates the fabrics to loosen dirt and remove stains. The rinse and spin function removes detergent buildup and excess water.
Dishwashers spray water, which won’t clean the clothes properly, and the detergent won’t be fully distributed or rinsed away.
And your clothes won’t dry properly. They’ll come out sopping wet because the dishwasher doesn’t spin or wring out clothes. Although there’s a heated dry function, it’s for surface level dampness on dishes, not soaked clothes. Plus, the heated dry function poses a fire risk for fabrics.
5. It’s a Safety Hazard
Stuffing your dishwasher full of clothes is a safety hazard.
Dishwashers are complex machines with many moving parts. Clothes pose all sorts of safety hazards that aren’t worth the risk.
Unlike sturdy dishes that stay put on the racks, clothes can shift or tangle.
While you may be tempted to put laundry detergent in the dishwasher, don’t do it. It will result in an overflow of suds and make a mess of your kitchen floors. Furthermore, mixing dishwasher and laundry detergent can lead to hazardous fumes, especially if the laundry detergent contains bleach.
What Dishwasher Manufacturers Say
I reached out to several dishwasher manufacturers to get their take on this topic.
I asked each a simple question: Can I wash clothes in a dishwasher? If no, can you explain why not?
It was no surprise that every single one of them said: no, never wash clothes in a dishwasher.
Here are their exact responses, along with screenshots.
Whirlpool: “[Doing so] could potentially cause damage to your clothes, [the clothes] would not be cleaned properly how a washer would because there is no agitation which helps scrub and clean your fabrics. Ultimately, we would recommend our laundry appliances that are specifically designed for washing and drying clothes.”
GE: “We don’t recommend washing clothing in the dishwasher as this is not the intended usage of this appliance. You will void your dishwasher warranty by doing so. It can also cause issues with the overall functionality of the dishwasher in the future.”
Maytag: “I can understand wanting to be sure how to operate the dishwasher properly and I am happy to look into this for you. We recommend only using the dishwasher to wash dishes as this is what the appliance was designed for. The warranty does not cover any issues that may arise from using the dishwasher in a manner inconsistent with the published user, operator, or installation instructions. For washing your clothes, we recommend using a clothes washer as it can scrub and rinse the clothes properly to give the best clothes washing performance. Dishwashers are best at and designed for cleaning and sanitizing non-porous dishes and utensils.”
Bosch: “In regards to your inquiry, a dishwasher is not designed to wash clothes it is designed to wash dishes. A washing machine is designed to wash clothes.”
Miele: “We don’t recommend you do that as it may damage your clothing. We suggest you use the dishwasher strictly for dishes.”
What to Do Instead of Washing Your Clothes in the Dishwasher
If you don’t have access to a washing machine, there are other — and better — alternatives than using your dishwasher.
- Hand Wash: Use a tub or sink, lukewarm water, a splash of laundry detergent, and agitate the clothes to remove dirt and stains. Don’t forget to rinse all the water and detergent out. Air dry or tumble dry.
- Go to the Laundromat: This is probably the easiest choice. Take your hamper to the laundromat and get your clothes cleaned properly.
- Laundry Services: If you don’t have time to sit around the laundromat waiting for your clothes to finish washing and drying, consider dropping them off at a laundry service. You can find laundry services near you by searching online. It’s a good option if you’re busy with work; drop the clothes off in the morning and pick them up at night. Many laundry services pick up and deliver, too.
- Portable Washing Machine: If you don’t have a washing machine due to limited space, or are renting a property, check out portable washing machines. They’re smaller in size, not as powerful, but these portable machines do a fine job for daily cleaning.
So should you wash clothes in the dishwasher? Nope! The main reasons are:
- You’ll damage the clothes. They could fade, shrink, tear, and lose their color.
- You’ll damage the dishwasher. The spray arm can easily break, the drain can, and it even poses a fire risk.
- It voids the warranty. Dishwasher warranties are only valid if you haven’t misused the appliance. Washing clothes in the dishwasher is a misuse of the appliance.
- Your clothes won’t clean or dry properly.
- It’s a safety hazard. You could destroy your clothes or your machine. Using laundry detergent is dangerous. It can overflow or mix with other chemicals and cause toxic gasses.
- The manufacturers recommend against it. They’re the experts.
The best option is to use a washing machine. If that’s not an option, try hand washing, heading to a laundromat, or using a laundry service. You can also invest in a portable washing machine.
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