Stainless steel is a popular material used in various household items due to its durability, resistance to rust and corrosion, and aesthetic appeal.
However, a common question that arises is whether stainless steel items can be safely placed in the dishwasher.
I’ll provide a comprehensive answer to this question, backed by data and real-life experiences while offering detailed instructions on properly cleaning stainless steel items.
What is Stainless Steel?
Stainless steel is an iron alloy with a minimum of 10.5% chromium. The chromium forms a thin oxide layer on the steel’s surface, making it resistant to rust and corrosion. It’s commonly used in household items such as cutlery, cookware, and appliances due to its durability, resistance to heat, and aesthetic appeal.
The following picture shows some stainless steel kitchen items:
Can Stainless Steel Go in the Dishwasher?
Stainless steel items can generally be placed in the dishwasher, but certain precautions should be considered. The suitability of stainless steel in the dishwasher largely depends on its grade. Items made from 304 (18/10), 430, and 18/0 stainless steel are generally safe to put in the dishwasher without experiencing detrimental effects.
304 Stainless Steel (18/10)
304 stainless steel, also known as 18/10, is a standard commercial-grade alloy. It contains around 18% chromium and 8% nickel. This type of stainless steel is highly durable and has excellent corrosion resistance due to the high percentage of chromium.
Therefore, items made from 304 stainless steel, such as pots, pans, straws, travel mugs, and water bottles, can safely be cleaned in the dishwasher.
430 Stainless Steel
430 stainless steel is less expensive than 304 stainless steel because it does not contain nickel. It consists of 17% chromium and has fair corrosion resistance. Therefore, it can withstand cleaners and mild detergents in the dishwasher. Everyday kitchen items made from 430 stainless steel include utensils, induction pots, and pans.
18/0 Stainless Steel
18/0 stainless steel, also referred to as Type 430, is part of the 400 series and, unlike 300 series stainless steel, is magnetic. It is generally safe to put in the dishwasher.
However, not all stainless steel is created equal. For instance, Martensitic stainless steel contains a higher carbon concentration and is not considered dishwasher safe as it can easily corrode from detergents and other cleaners.
Dishwasher-Compatible Stainless Steel Items
Can Stainless Steel Water Bottles Go in the Dishwasher?
Yes, especially if they are made from 304 stainless steel.
Can Stainless Steel Bowls Go in the Dishwasher?
Yes, as long as they are not coated with a non-stick layer.
Can Stainless Steel Cutlery Go in the Dishwasher?
Yes, but removing them immediately after the cycle is recommended to prevent spotting.
Can Stainless Steel Cups Go in the Dishwasher?
Yes, they are generally safe to be cleaned in the dishwasher.
Can You Put Stainless Steel Utensils in the Dishwasher?
Yes, most stainless steel utensils can be put in the dishwasher.
Can Stainless Steel Knives Go in the Dishwasher?
It’s not recommended as it can dull the blade and cause corrosion.
Is Cuisinart Stainless Steel Dishwasher Safe?
Yes, most Cuisinart stainless steel cookware is dishwasher safe, but it’s always best to check the manufacturer’s instructions.
Dishwasher and Stainless Steel Items: Exceptions and Risks
Certain types of stainless steel items should not go in the dishwasher, such as Stainless Clad Cookware. This type of cookware has layers of aluminium sandwiched between stainless steel, and the aluminium can degrade when in contact with detergents.
The aluminium layers can degrade and disappear, resulting in an unsafe and impractical pan. It can also cause a loss of induction compatibility as aluminium aids in the magnetic current being transferred to the pan.
Moreover, other risks are associated with using the dishwasher for stainless steel items. These include:
This form of highly localized corrosion leads to small holes in the metal.
Over time, the dishwasher’s harsh detergents can cause the stainless steel to discolor.
Loss of Induction Compatibility
If the aluminium layers in the stainless steel degrade, it can result in the loss of induction compatibility.
Although stainless steel is known for its resistance to rust, the harsh conditions inside a dishwasher can sometimes cause rust spots to form, especially on lower-quality stainless steel.
How to Clean Stainless Steel Items?
Now that we’ve established that using the dishwasher for certain stainless steel items isn’t advisable let’s get into some details about properly cleaning your stainless steel items.
- Rinse the item under hot water once it has cooled after use.
- Clean with mild dish soap and a soft sponge. You can use a scrub brush or pad for tough messes and even break out steel wool if needed. Be sure to use light pressure with steel wool to not damage the surface.
- For a polished look, use a powdered stainless steel cleaner. This powder has a mild abrasive quality coupled with an acidic component to cut through grime and keep your items looking sharp.
- For burnt or sticky messes, paste two parts of baking soda into 1 part distilled vinegar. You can also soak the affected areas in vinegar or even simmer a small amount in the pan if needed.
Other Items That Should Not Go in the Dishwasher
Apart from certain stainless steel items, other types of items should not go in the dishwasher. These include:
Wooden utensils, cutting boards, and bowls can warp and crack when exposed to the heat and moisture in a dishwasher.
Not all plastics are dishwasher safe. Check the item for a dishwasher-safe symbol or check the manufacturer’s instructions.
Items with Hollow Handles
These can fill with water in the dishwasher, leading to rust or other damage.
Items with Thermal Insulation
Vacuum flasks and thermal mugs should not be put in the dishwasher as they can damage the insulation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What metal cannot go in the dishwasher?
Cast iron, aluminium, copper, and non-stick-coated items should not be in the dishwasher.
Is 100% stainless steel dishwasher safe?
Yes, as long as it’s a dishwasher-safe grade, like 304 or 430. However, items with aluminium layers or non-stainless steel parts may not be safe.
Where do you put stainless steel in a dishwasher?
Stainless steel items should be placed in the lower rack of the dishwasher, where they will be exposed to less intense heat.
In conclusion, while many stainless steel items can safely be placed in the dishwasher, it’s important to consider the grade of the stainless steel and the construction of the item. Specific grades of stainless steel and items with aluminium layers or non-stainless steel parts may not be dishwasher safe.
Always check the manufacturer’s instructions if you’re unsure. Proper care and cleaning can ensure your stainless steel items maintain their appearance and functionality for years.
James is an organic fertilizer professional who owns a successful organic fertilizer company in new jersey. He is an expert in waste management in both houses and community cases. In his free time, he loves to write about his experiences in the field.