Can Melamine Go In The Dishwasher?

By Cory White
Can Melamine Go In The Dishwasher?

Melamine dinnerware has gained popularity for its durability and vibrant designs.   But when it comes to cleaning, a common question arises: can melamine go in the dishwasher safely?

Generally, melamine dishware is dishwasher safe, but only on the top rack to avoid high temperatures that may damage it. It’s essential to be careful and follow the manufacturer’s instructions, as dishwasher safety can vary between products.

In this article, I will delve into the question of whether melamine is dishwasher-safe by exploring the potential benefits, risks, and considerations of putting these in the dishwasher. Read on to know more!

What is Melamine?

Melamine is a type of hard, heat-resistant plastic that is commonly used in making dishes and eating utensils. Known for its toughness and stain resistance, it can mimic the aesthetics of ceramic or porcelain, making it an ideal material for tableware. 

Its lightness, ease of shaping, and durability make it desirable for use in a variety of applications, but it is particularly valued in the manufacture of dinnerware where it combines practicality with the pleasing visual aspects usually associated with more traditional materials. 

It can be found in everything from plates and bowls to mugs and spoons, offering an attractive and reliable alternative to the fragility of ceramics or the heaviness of glassware.

Understanding Dishwasher Safety

Understanding what makes a product truly dishwasher safe can be a bit tricky. It’s not just about whether or not it will survive a cycle — it’s about the item’s ability to withstand high temperatures, the pressure from water jets, and the effects of dishwasher detergent without degrading, warping, or losing color. There are two key factors to consider:

Temperature tolerance

Dishwashers can reach temperatures of up to 75°C (about 167°F). A truly dishwasher-safe item should be able to endure this level of heat without warping or melting.

Material stability

The item must remain stable under the force of water jets and not be affected by dishwasher detergents. Plastics, ceramics, and glass meet this criterion, though variance exists depending on specific product quality.

Is Melamine Dishwasher Safe?

Yes, in most cases, melamine dishes are considered dishwasher-safe. They are engineered to withstand the force of water jets and the effects of dishwasher detergents. However, they aren’t invincible, and prolonged exposure to high temperatures can potentially cause damage.

While the dishes are durable, heat resistance can be a bit of a sticking point. Melamine pieces should be placed on the top rack of the dishwasher, far from the heating elements. This is where the temperature is lower, reducing the chance of the dishes getting too hot and warping or cracking. So, while they’re usually marked as dishwasher safe, it’s always recommended to follow each manufacturer’s specific handling instructions to prolong the life and beauty of your melamine tableware.

Tips for Dishwashing Melamine

Dishwasher Loading Detergent

Caring for your melamine dishes properly when using a dishwasher can help prolong their quality and lifespan. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Load Correctly

Melamine dishes should be placed on the top rack of your dishwasher, away from the heating element. This reduces the chances of them warping or cracking from intense heat.

Right Settings

Avoid using heated dry settings or steam clean cycles which can be too hot for melamine. Choose a gentle dishwashing cycle and let the dishes air dry, if possible.

Watch Detergents

Some detergents can be too harsh and abrasive for melamine, potentially dulling its shine over time. Opt for mild detergents designed for delicate dishes.

Check for Blemishes

Before loading your melamine dishes, check for cracks or chips. Even small blemishes can become larger in a dishwasher, potentially causing the dish to break.

Risks and Concerns

While melamine boasts durability, it’s not without potential concerns. When exposed to high heat, there’s a possibility that melamine could leach traces of its chemical components into your food, particularly if it’s acidic or fatty. This could pose health risks depending on the concentration levels. Key risks and concerns include:

  1. Heat Exposure. Heating melamine above recommended levels whether in a microwave or dishwasher could cause it to break down and leach chemicals, like formaldehyde, into food.
  2. Dishwasher Minutiae.  Even at normal dishwasher temperatures, minor but consistent leaching could potentially occur over time, particularly if the dish is scratched or damaged.
  3. Health Impact. Long-term exposure to melamine residues can lead to kidney problems and potentially bladder or kidney stones. However, such consequences typically occur with high-level exposure.

Alternatives to Dishwashing Melamine

If you prefer not to use a dishwasher or need to tackle stubborn stains, there are alternatives to maintaining your melamine dishes. Hand washing can also ensure your dishes are well cared for, extending their lifespan and preserving their beauty. Here’s how you can do it:

Hand washing

Use warm soapy water and a soft, non-abrasive sponge to avoid scratches. This method is gentle and ideal for preserving the color vibrancy of your melamine.

Stain Removal

For stubborn stains, make a paste with baking soda and water. Apply it to the stain, and gently scrub with a soft sponge. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaning materials.

Melamine vs. Other Dish Materials

When exploring your options for tableware, you’ll find that melamine, ceramic, and plastic each have their own strengths and weaknesses, especially relating to dishwasher safety.


Known for its durability, melamine is resistant to breaking and chipping, making it ideal for use in a variety of environments. However, it shouldn’t be exposed to high heat, suggesting only top-rack dishwasher use and absolutely barring microwaving.


Generally dishwasher-safe, ceramic dishes can endure high heat. However, glazed ceramics can chip or crack over time especially when exposed to forceful water jets in the dishwasher. Hence, care must be taken when loading.


Common plastic dishes are generally top-rack dishwasher-safe like melamine, but the hottest settings should be avoided to prevent warping. Recycled or low-quality plastics, however, may not be dishwasher-safe at all.

or plastic options, each has its strengths and weaknesses regarding dishwasher safety. In essence, the choice between melamine, ceramic, or plastic dishes will hinge on your specific preferences and needs. Always weigh the durability, aesthetics, and safety of each material for your best tableware choice.


In wrapping up, melamine dishes are a popular and practical choice for many, offering durability, style, and usually dishwasher safety. So, while melamine dishes can make your meals more colorful and enjoyable, always keep their care instructions in mind to ensure they last longer and continue making your dining moments special.

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