Can Stainless Steel Go In The Dishwasher?

By Cory White
Can Stainless Steel Go In The Dishwasher?

The dishwasher has revolutionized dish cleaning, but you might be wondering if stainless steel can withstand its intense cycles, possibly causing rust or scratches. 

Worry no more because stainless steel, a  widely used kitchenware – from cookware, utensils, and appliances, can generally go in the dishwasher. However, it is also encouraged to read on the manufacturer’s label whether your stainless steel is dishwasher safe or not. It is also worth noting that not all stainless steel wares are compatible with dishwashers!

In this article, you will learn about the dishwasher compatibility of stainless steel products, potential risks, alternative cleaning methods, answers to frequently asked questions like whether cold or hot water settings can impact stainless steel in the dishwasher, and a few care and maintenance tips. Let’s go!  

Dishwashing Stainless Steel Products

stainless steel pot in dishwasher

It can be a convenient method to keep your stainless steel products clean and ready to use. A variety of stainless steel items are compatible with dishwashers, which simplifies the cleaning process:

Water bottles

Many stainless steel water bottles are dishwasher safe, although it’s recommended to check the manufacturer’s advice beforehand. Make sure to remove the cap and disassemble any parts to clean them thoroughly.

Pots and pans

Many stainless steel pots and pans can withstand dishwashing, but be sure to check their dishwasher-safe status on the product label or their manual. The proper placement is essential to protect them from scratches and dents while they’re being washed.

When placing stainless steel items in the dishwasher, always read and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for correct loading and safe handling. This will help maintain the longevity and appearance of these items and keep them looking great for longer.

Stainless Steel and its Dishwasher Safety

Specific types of stainless steel are considered dishwasher safe due to their corrosion-resistant properties and durable nature. However, some precautions should be taken when placing them in the dishwasher to ensure their safety:

Understand the type

Look for stainless steel products labeled 18/8 or 18/10, as these types are dishwasher-safe. The numbers represent chromium and nickel content, responsible for making the material rust and stain resistant.

Check the manufacturer’s recommendations

Always verify if an item is deemed dishwasher safe by checking its label, manual, or the manufacturer’s website. This helps avoid potential risks like discoloration or damage.

Risks of Dishwashing Stainless Steel

There are a few potential risks and drawbacks associated with dishwashing stainless steel items. Being aware of these can help protect the durability and appearance of your cookware:

  • Scratches and dents. Improper loading or coming in contact with other materials in the dishwasher can cause scratches or dents on stainless steel cookware.
  • Discoloration. Mixing stainless steel with other materials, such as silverware, can lead to chemical reactions that cause discoloration or tarnishing. Over time, high heat and harsh detergents may also affect the appearance of your items.
  • Damage to other components. Some stainless steel items have non-metal components like handles or knobs made from plastic or wood. These materials may not be dishwasher safe and could be damaged during the cleaning process.

Proper Dishwasher Loading for Stainless Steel Items

Loading stainless steel items correctly in the dishwasher is crucial to prevent damage and maintain their quality. Here are some tips for proper dishwasher placement of stainless steel items:

Keep items separated

It’s essential to keep stainless steel cookware separate from other materials, especially silver cutlery, to avoid chemical reactions leading to discoloration, tarnishing, or corrosion.

Space for washing and drying

Ensure there’s enough distance between your stainless steel items and others, so water and drying sources can efficiently reach the surfaces.

Orient items properly

For larger items like pots and pans, place them face down to ensure thorough washing. Flatware, such as stainless steel spoons and forks, should be mixed with handles up and down to prevent nesting and ensure proper cleaning.

Check non-metal components

Some stainless steel items may have plastic, wood, or other materials integrated into their design. If these parts are not dishwasher safe, they should not be put in the appliance or may need to be removed if possible.

Alternative Cleaning Methods for Stainless Steel

handwashing stainless pot

In cases where a dishwasher isn’t an option or for items that require gentler care, alternative cleaning methods for stainless steel can come in handy. Here are a few suggestions to keep your items clean and well-maintained:


One of the most effective alternatives is simply washing stainless steel items by hand using warm soapy water. This method is gentle yet efficient in lifting dirt and grime from the surfaces.

Soft cloth

After handwashing, use a soft cloth to dry stainless steel products. Not only does this prevent water spots from forming, but it also helps to maintain a shiny and polished appearance.

Non-abrasive cleaners

If you need to remove stubborn stains or marks from your stainless steel items, opt for non-abrasive cleaners to protect the surface from scratching. A paste made from baking soda and water can serve as an effective, homemade solution.

Stainless Steel Cookware that Should be Hand-washed

handwashing a knife

Some stainless steel cookware items are best hand-washed to preserve their quality and functionality. Here are a few examples of items that should not be placed in the dishwasher:


High-quality knives, particularly those with high carbon content, can become dull or get damaged in the dishwasher. Handwashing preserves their sharpness and prolongs their lifespan.

Certain utensils

Some utensils, like strainers or stainless steel mesh sieves, may have intricate designs that don’t allow thorough cleaning in the dishwasher. Handwashing allows you to target those hard-to-reach areas for effective cleaning.

Items with non-metal components

Cookware with plastic, wooden, or other delicate handles or knobs should be hand-washed, as these materials may not be dishwasher safe and could be damaged during the washing process.

Heirlooms or antique items

Older stainless steel items or those with sentimental value should be treated with extra care as they may not be able to withstand the heat or vigorous cleaning action of a dishwasher.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions and concerns related to placing stainless steel in the dishwasher:

Can all stainless steel items go in the dishwasher? 

Not all, but most stainless steel items can be safely placed in the dishwasher. However, it’s essential to check the manufacturer’s recommendations, as some items might require handwashing.

Does the dishwasher detergent affect stainless steel? 

Harsh detergents could cause discoloration or corrosion on some stainless steel products over time. It’s best to use a mild, non-abrasive detergent labeled safe for stainless steel.

Can stainless steel be mixed with other metals in the dishwasher?

Mixing stainless steel with other metals, particularly silver may cause chemical reactions that lead to discoloration or corrosion. It’s best to separate stainless steel items from other metals while loading the dishwasher.

Do cold or hot water settings impact stainless steel in the dishwasher? 

Stainless steel items are generally safe to wash at varying temperatures, but extremely high heat could potentially cause discoloration or corrosion over time. It’s advisable to check the manufacturer’s guidelines for the appropriate temperature settings for your stainless steel items.

Maintenance Tips for Stainless Steel Items

Proper maintenance is essential for preserving the appearance and durability of your stainless steel items, regardless of whether they are dishwasher-safe. Here are some tips to help keep your stainless steel looking and performing its best:

  1. Gentle cleaning. Use non-abrasive cleaners or mild detergents for both dishwashing and handwashing your stainless steel items. This prevents unnecessary scratches or damage to the surface.
  2. Regular polishing. Polishing stainless steel items occasionally helps maintain their luster and shine. Use a soft microfiber or lint-free cloth and a stainless steel cleaner or polish according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Dry them quickly. To prevent water spots from forming, dry your stainless steel items immediately after washing them. Use a soft, clean cloth for drying to avoid scratching.
  4. Use caution with acidic or salty foods. Prolonged exposure to acidic or salty foods may cause pitting or corrosion on stainless steel surfaces. Rinse stainless steel cookware promptly after use and avoid soaking in acidic solutions for extended periods.


In conclusion, while most stainless steel items can be safely placed in the dishwasher, it’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and proper loading guidelines to keep them in top condition. Being aware of the potential risks and knowing alternative cleaning methods, like handwashing, becomes essential for maintaining the appearance and durability of your stainless steel cookware. Equally important is the ongoing maintenance and care of these products. By understanding the unique properties of stainless steel and following best practices, you can enjoy the long-lasting performance and aesthetics that come with owning stainless steel items.

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