Check the Dishwasher Safe Symbol Before Destroying Your Pliable Plastics

Have you ever noticed a tiny symbol of a dishwasher hanging out on the bottom of your cookware? This little symbol on cookware, Tupperware, or other food containers can make or break your purchasing decisions. The dishwasher safe symbol lets you know whether or not you can wash kitchenware, plastic containers, and wine glasses, in the dishwasher — sometimes specifically on the top rack or bottom rack. It's never fun to flip over that brand new dishware or BPA-free cup and find that you're going to have to hand wash it or risk its destruction in the dishwasher.

Unfortunately, there's no universal dishwasher safe symbol or microwave safe symbol. The one you may be thinking of may mean something else entirely. Additionally, some items may be safe in the dishwasher as long as you keep those with a low melting point away from the heating element.

What is the Dishwasher Safe Symbol?

"There is no universally recognized or approved symbol to indicate that an item is dishwasher safe," Appliance Canada reports.

There are some that show that something is safe to be washed on the top rack of the dishwasher. While many types of plastic items used for food storage or other food use do tend to have safety symbols on them, they don't always mean the cutlery or storage container is okay to go through a dishwasher cycle.

Different Food Safety Symbols

dishwasher safe symbols

There is an often-used symbol that means something is dishwasher safe. It features a dish sitting within a dishwasher rack, with water droplets falling down on it. That one means the item is dishwasher safe.

There is also a symbol that is sometimes used to show something is safe to wash on the top rack.

"If the image shows a dish or dishes being struck from above by lines of water, the container may only be safe to wash on the top rack," Reviewed notes. "Sometimes this image also includes a temperature limit to help clarify things."

There's also a symbol that shows something is food safe, and that symbol is often confused as a dishwasher safe symbol. It usually features a wine glass and a fork. That symbol just means it's approved for food use.

In addition, there's a symbol for an item being microwave safe, and you should certainly look for that before putting the item through the high temperatures of reheating in the microwave. Stuff that you can sneak into the dishwasher won't withstand the microwave treatment as well. Also, a typical symbol that means something is freezer-safe is a snowflake image.

What You Shouldn't Clean in the Dishwasher

There are a few items that no matter what, should be washed by hand no matter how efficient your dishwasher is. Kitchenware such as non-stick pans may say they are dishwasher-safe, however the high temperatures in the machine may wear down the non-stick coating after time.

The same goes for chef's knives. Dishwashers can dull these kinds of knives very easily, so it's better to err on the side of caution with them.

Using something like this knife cleaner gets your kitchen knives clean without risking your fingers.

Non-Slip Blade Brush, Knife Cleaner

These other items should be cleaned by hand:

  • Cast Iron
  • Wooden Cutting Boards
  • Crystal Glassware
  • Insulated or Vacuum-Sealed Bottles
  • Aluminum
  • Non-Stick Pans
  • Knives

When in doubt, check the manufacturer's website to see if you can find information on the safe use of the item.

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