Can You Wash Clothes In A Dishwasher?

By Cory White
Can You Wash Clothes In A Dishwasher?

While it may seem tempting, washing clothes in a dishwasher is not recommended due to its design and potential risks.

It’s essential to understand that dishwashers are specifically meant to clean and sanitize dishware, not garments.

Dishwasher Loading

1. Dishwasher Design and Function

Focusing on the dishwasher design, these appliances are specifically engineered for cleaning dishes and not clothes. One significant design feature that distinguishes dishwashers from washing machines is the use of water jets. 

These powerful jets are tailored to target and remove food particles and residue from dishes, utensils, and glassware.

The intensity and pressure of the water jets are ideal for tackling tough stains on plates and silverware, but they can be too harsh for fabrics. 

When clothes are exposed to such forceful water streams, they may end up damaged, stretched, or torn. 

Dishwasher Loading Detergent

2. Detergent Matters

Detergent plays a significant role in the cleaning process, and it’s essential to recognize the differences between dishwasher and laundry detergents. 

Each type of detergent is specifically formulated for their respective purposes, and using the wrong one can negatively affect the cleaning efficiency of your clothes.

Dishwasher detergents are designed to be tough on food particles and grease found on dishes. They often contain abrasive ingredients that aid in breaking down and removing stubborn food residues. 

Laundry Detergents

On the other hand, laundry detergents are formulated to effectively clean clothing fabrics, preserve color, and remove various types of stains, such as sweat, dirt, and grime.

Using dishwasher detergents on clothes can be too harsh, causing damage to the material and fading of colors. 

Conversely, using laundry detergents in your dishwasher may not yield satisfactory results in cleaning dishes. 

3. Potential Damage to Clothes

Washing clothes in a dishwasher poses a risk for potential damage to the fabrics. 

This is mainly because dishwashers are designed to clean solid objects like dishes and utensils, rather than the delicate materials that makeup clothing items.

High Temperatures and Water Jets

Firstly, the high temperatures typically used in dishwashers to sanitize dishes could harm delicate fabrics and cause shrinking or warping. The fabrics may also lose their softness, creating an uncomfortable texture for the wearer.

Secondly, the strong water jets that effectively remove food particles from dishes can be too forceful for clothes. The aggressive spray can result in stretching, tearing, or fraying of fabrics. 

Moreover, it may cause some clothes to tangle or knot, increasing the likelihood of damage.

4. Warranty Concerns

Using a dishwasher to wash clothes may lead to unwanted consequences, such as the voiding of the appliance’s warranty. 

Manufacturers offer warranties to cover defects and malfunctions for a specified period under normal usage. 

However, when dishwashers are misused – such as being repurposed for washing clothes – the warranty terms may no longer apply.


Misuse can result in mechanical issues, such as clogging or damage to the tub or jets, which the manufacturer may not cover if the appliance is not being used for its intended purpose. 

Consequently, if any problems arise due to washing clothes in your dishwasher, your warranty may be voided, leaving you responsible for repairs or replacements.

5. Safety Hazards

Washing clothes in a dishwasher can lead to several potential safety hazards, emphasizing the importance of using the appliance for its intended purpose.

  1. Clogging or flooding: Clothes can obstruct the water flow in a dishwasher, leading to clogs in the drain and internal components. This blockage may result in water build-up, causing the dishwasher to flood your kitchen and creating safety risks such as slip hazards or electrical malfunctions.
  2. Inadequate cleaning: Dishwashers are not designed for efficient clothing cleaning, leaving the possibility of residual dirt or bacteria remaining on the garments. This lack of proper sanitation raises concerns about hygiene and could potentially cause health issues for the wearer.
  3. Clothing damage: As previously mentioned, the powerful water jets and high temperatures can cause clothes to stretch, tear, or shrink. This not only harms the garments but also increases the likelihood of loose fabrics clogging the dishwasher, creating additional safety risks.

6. Alternatives to Washing Clothes in a Dishwasher

If you don’t have access to a washing machine and are looking for alternatives to washing clothes, there are several options available that will efficiently clean your garments without resorting to using a dishwasher.

Hand washing

This tried-and-tested method allows you to clean clothing items in a sink, bathtub, or basin filled with water and mild detergent. Gently agitating the garments by hand will remove dirt and stains, making it particularly suitable for delicate items.

Laundry services

Visiting a local laundromat or using a professional laundry service is an excellent option for those who don’t own a washing machine. These establishments provide the necessary equipment and detergents to clean a large volume of clothes with minimal hassle.

Portable washer

Investing in a portable washing machine can be a practical and convenient alternative, especially for those with limited space. These compact devices are designed for small loads, require minimal water and electricity, and can easily be moved or stored away when not in use.

Ultrasonic Cleaner

Another solution for washing clothes without a washer is using an ultrasonic cleaner. These devices use high-frequency sound waves to create micro-bubbles that agitate and dislodge dirt from the fabric. 

Ultrasonic cleaners are typically smaller and more portable than traditional washing machines, making them a convenient option for those lacking space or access to laundry facilities.


In conclusion, washing clothes in a dishwasher is not recommended due to the appliance’s design, the potential risks to your garments, and safety hazards. 

As an alternative, consider traditional methods like hand washing, visiting a laundromat, or using a portable washing machine.

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