Can You Wash Clothes In The Dishwasher?

Can You Wash Clothes in a Dishwasher?

can you wash clothes in a dishwasher

Washing clothes in a dishwasher is one of those things that seems like it should work to some degree, but it is far from advisable.

From a practical standpoint, a dishwasher is designed to wash dishes, hence the name. However, I can see how someone might think that using a dishwasher to wash clothes would be an okay idea if they were short on washing options and desperately needed clean clothes.

All that said, I encourage you not to use your dishwasher as an alternative way to wash your clothes because there are several better methods.

Reasons Not to Wash Clothes in a Dishwasher

Here are some things to consider before putting your clothes in a dishwasher and hitting the start button.

1. Your Clothes Won’t Be Washed Properly

Even though dishwashers wash dishes, this does not mean that they can wash clothes in any actual capacity. Unlike a washing machine, a dishwasher has no spin cycle system, and while this might seem like a minor detail, a washing machine’s spin cycle is what makes the magic happen when you wash clothes.

A spin cycle keeps clothes constantly moving, allowing them to get a good wash that ensures they get cleaned everywhere. Whereas if you put clothes in a dishwasher, they simply sit in one spot while water is dumped on them, and this form of wash won’t come anywhere close to cleaning them thoroughly.

2. You Might Damage Your Clothes in the Washer

In addition to lacking a spin cycle, a dishwasher uses pure heat to dry dishes, which is different from how a washing machine drains water from clothes during the spin cycle.

Even though dryers also use heat to dry clothes, this happens after washing machines remove the vast majority of the water.

A dishwasher will most certainly damage your clothes in the drying process because clothes are not designed to handle that kind of heated drying. A dishwasher also will not dry your clothes entirely because it won’t move clothes around constantly the same way a dryer does.

3. You Could Damage the Dishwasher

Damaging the dishwasher itself is another concern to bring up, as it is a very likely outcome if you try using a dishwasher to wash clothes quickly.

Because dishwashers have racks designed specifically for holding dishes, it does not take much to realize that those racks probably won’t fare well with holding clothes.

The more clothes you try to cram into a dishwasher, the more likely it will break in some way, especially since dishwashers are not all that large to begin with.

4. You Could Void Your Washer Warranty

If all those points are still not enough to deter you from using your dishwasher to wash clothes, then the last thing I’ll mention is the warranty.

Using your dishwasher in a way that the manufacturers never intended will more than likely nullify your warranty on the machine. This nullification means that you will be responsible for the costs that come with any repairs or replacements involving your dishwasher, and those options are not cheap by any means.

So, do not use your dishwasher to dry clothes unless you want to risk breaking your dishwasher and paying a hefty amount of money to right the wrong.

What to Do Instead of Washing Clothes in a Dishwasher

Now, let’s go over some alternate ways to wash clothes. That way, you’ll still have a way to get laundry done even if you don’t have your own washing machine available.

Hand Washing

Washing clothes by hand is a potentially arduous process for some. However, it does get the job done, and it requires minimal resources to make it work.

The only things you need are:

  • A bucket
  • Tub
  • Sink
  • Some other items you can use to store clothes as you wash them
  • Your preferred laundry detergent
  • A place to hang the clothes so they can air dry

The glaring downside to hand washing is that it is a manual process that you cannot automate easily, but it is an excellent way to wash clothes if you are okay with that.

Use a Laundromat

Aside from using your own washer and dryer, going to a laundromat is probably the best option I can recommend for washing clothes. As good as hand washing is, it’s much easier to remove stains from delicate fabrics when using a washing machine.

Even though this method is more manageable than handwashing from a manual labor standpoint, I will say that it is not without its drawbacks. You obviously will need to find a laundromat near you and have the means to reach it, but you’ll also have to sit then and wait for your laundry to finish.

While I highly recommend using a laundromat if you have one near you, I also recognize that not everyone has an hour or two of free time for this method.

Laundry Services

So, if you are pressed for time all week but still need to wash clothes, laundry services will be your saving grace. A laundry service already has all the necessary resources and equipment to wash clothes, meaning that you won’t have to bring anything extra along.

Simply bring your clothes, drop them off, and come back for them once they are done.

Consider a Portable Washing Machine

Suppose you’re really in a pinch or know that you will be in a situation where you’ll need to wash clothes and won’t have access to any of the previously mentioned options. In that case, a portable washing machine might be the way to go.

Most portable washing machines come with the same warm water and cold wash options as their regular-sized counterparts, as well as other wash cycles for different washing needs.

I don’t use these very often myself, though on the occasions when I have used them, they performed just as well as any standard washing machine. That said, do note that portable washing machines do not allow you to wash as many clothes at once compared to regular-sized washing machines.

How Do You Wash Clothes Without a Washing Machine or Dryer?

how do you wash clothes without a washing machine or dryer

To wash clothes without a washing machine or dryer, you can refer to any above methods. While those methods do require extra steps, hand washing is the most often available regardless of the time and place, so I’ll give a breakdown on how to wash clothes by hand.

  1. First, make sure you have a bucket (or something to hold the clothes while washing), stain remover, water, and laundry detergent on hand. Next, organize your dirty clothes by separating them into whites, colors, and delicates, and check all of them for stains.
  2. If you find any stains, be sure to apply your stain remover before you start washing. That way, the stain remover can have a few minutes to disrupt the stain and make it easier to remove.
  3. After that, fill your bucket with lukewarm water until the water covers the clothes. Then add a few teaspoons of laundry detergent depending on how many clothes you’re washing and let them soak for around half an hour.
  4. Using your hands, move the clothes around to get the suds and soapy water through them, and do this until all the clothes are thoroughly washed.
  5. Once that is done, pour out the soapy water and fill the bucket with fresh water while moving the clothes around. Repeat this process to rinse the clothes and then remove the clothes one at a time so you can start setting them up to dry.

Don’t ring your clothes out as that might damage them. Instead, gently squeeze or press them to remove any excess water before you dry them. If you have a dryer, you can use that to dry the clothes, but if not, just use a clothesline or put them in the sun.

Can You Wash Baseball Caps or Hats in the Dishwasher?

can you wash baseball caps or hats in the dishwasher

To wash a baseball cap in your dishwasher, apply pre-wash stain remover to any stains and let the cap sit for half an hour before putting it in the dishwasher. Next, use a bleach-free dish detergent and set your dishwasher to its warm water cycle with no heat drying.

Once the dishwasher finishes, remove the baseball cap and leave it out to air dry.

Can Shoes Be Washed in the Dishwasher?

can shoes be washed in the dishwasher

I strongly advise against washing shoes in your dishwasher. Like clothes, shoes will suffer damage from the dishwasher’s heat drying, so stick to using a washing machine for your shoes and always remove a shoe’s laces before washing.

Can I Do Laundry With Dishwasher Detergent?

can i do laundry with dishwasher detergent

No, do not use dishwasher detergent to do your laundry. Always use laundry detergents to wash clothes, as dishwasher detergents are not made for fabrics, and using them on your clothes will only cause damage.

Can I Wash Towels in the Dishwasher?

can i wash towels in the dishwasher

Washing towels in your dishwasher is just as ineffective and unadvisable as washing clothes. Neither the dishwasher itself nor dishwashing detergents are designed for towels so that you won’t get clean towels, and you also run the risk of breaking your dishwasher.

Washing Clothes With Dish Soap in a Pinch

washing clothes with dish soap in a pinch

Surprisingly, dish soap is safe to use on clothes. Just check to make sure your dish soap does not contain bleach and be sure not to use more than a few teaspoons. Otherwise, you’ll have a washing machine full of suds.

I speak from experience when I say that getting suds out of a washing machine is no fun for anyone.

James Marshall

About the author

James is a business management professional and consultant with a former background in maintenance, repair, and hands-on projects. He enjoys DIY tasks and maintenance around the home as well as part-time writing. Read more »