Can You Wash Clothes in a Dishwasher?

washing clothes in dishwasher

It’s perfectly natural whenever a wild thought strikes you, and one such idea is whether you can wash clothes in your dishwasher. Yes, many of those who don’t have access to washing machines think of doing this. And be cautious; it’s one of the most disastrous things you want to do.

However, there’s always an escape route to the most complicated things. And so it applies here also. There are a few exceptional clothes that you can wash in a dishwasher. That doesn’t mean you can keep your washing machine away and use the dishwasher to wash clothes and dishes too.

Can You Wash Clothes in a Dishwasher?

The straight answer is a big NO. Dishwashers use hot water and strong detergents, which may ruin your clothes. On the flip side, the clothes may entangle inside the dishwasher, breaking it at some point. Moreover, you won’t be able to achieve the desired cleaning results when you wash clothes in the dishwasher. Also, the dishwasher manufacturing company never approves of you washing clothes in the dishwasher, eventually voiding the warranty. 

To summarize, dishwashers aim to wash dishes while washing machines wash clothes.

7 Reasons Why You Should Never Wash Clothes in a Dishwasher

1. Different Types of Detergents

Detergent from the dishwasher is different than that from the washing machine. Though it functions to remove dirt and oil like laundry detergent, it is composed differently. It doesn’t aim to clean fabrics but, on the contrary, ruins them.

Dishwasher detergent has a high pH and contains bleach to remove grease and food effortlessly. This combination works harshly on the fabrics, ultimately damaging them.

Despite being strong, laundry detergents effectively remove dirt from fabrics and remain gentle on colors. Almost all laundry detergents come with a neutral pH and a combination of different enzymes, fats, starches, water-soluble polymers, and wetting agents. Never use laundry detergent in the dishwasher. It lathers up, overflows, and damages your dishwasher.

mild liquid detergent to wash clothes

2. Hot Water

Dishwashers require the washing of dishes with hot water. The temperature rises to about 170 °C during the sanitization cycle. During the eco cycle of a washing machine, the temperature reaches only 70 °C. This extreme heat from the hot water may ruin the fabrics of your clothes, either by shrinking them or running the colors. 

The drying process of a dishwasher also generates heat, which isn’t suitable for clothes.

hot water

3. Clothes May Stain

Food scraps may line up in the dishwasher or drain, which may stain your clothes. Imagine the woes of washing dirty dishes and clothes simultaneously, and what a nightmare you may face.

stained clothes

4. You’ll Damage the Dishwasher

A dishwasher is prone to damage if you wash clothes in it. Clothes may snag inside the dishwasher, wind up around the spray arm, or fall off the rock to choke up the drain. 

A few dishwashers have a heating element at the bottom. There’s a possibility of clothes catching fire in such dishwashers. 

Dishwashers aren’t capable of wringing the clothes and agitating them. They merely spray water and can’t remove the extra detergent applied to the clothes.

Ultimately, you end up with detergent sticking to the clothes without rinsing them appropriately, resulting in the detergent buildup that damages the dishwasher.

upset man sitting in front of damaged dishwasher

5. The Dishwasher Warranty Will be Void

Dishwashing is the principal function of dishwashers. If you wash items other than dishes, your dishwasher warranty will become void. The warranty applies only to default problems or defects with various dishwasher parts. But if you use it for purposes other than washing dishes, the manufacturer has full authority to cancel your warranty.

warranty is void

6. Clothes Will Not be Properly Cleaned and Dry

A dishwasher doesn’t wash your clothes, unlike a washing machine. Nor can it wring or dry the clothes. Dishwashers lack the spinning functionality of washing machines, which helps to agitate the fabrics. This agitation helps lift the dirt and loosen it from the fabric. It helps to eliminate stains and clean the clothes by preventing detergent buildup and extra water, thanks to the rinse and spin functionality in washing machines. 

On the contrary, dishwashers spray water, which is fine for washing dishes but bad for clothes. The spraying of water doesn’t help to remove excess detergent from the clothes, nor does it rinse or dry them. The clothes remain soaked with water, as dishwashers lack spinning or wringing functionality. 

In addition, the heated dry function works ideally on damp dishes, not soaked clothes. In addition, it poses a risk of clothes catching fire.

women smelling clothes

7. Safety Hazard

Tossing an overload of clothes into the dishwasher may pose a safety risk. A dishwasher, a complex machine with several moving parts, isn’t ideal for washing clothes. The risk of tangling inside the dishwasher is one such risk that can damage it. Dishwashers can ideally wash sturdy materials like dishes, but not clothes that aren’t.

Avoid using laundry detergent in the dishwasher. You may have to tidy up the flooding suds on your kitchen floors. 

Warning: Never use a mix of a dishwasher and laundry detergent. If the laundry detergent contains bleach, it may produce hazardous fumes.

handyman repairing dishwasher

Can You Wash Clothes With Dish Soap?

The formulation of dish soap aims to remove food and grease from the dishes. The soap may contain bleaching agents and enzymes unsuitable for garments. They may be effective on dishes but fail to remove odors or stains from clothes. The fabric holds on to the soap residue after washing, which you may find difficult to remove later.

You can use liquid dish soap to remove oil stains from clothes. To know more, read: How to Remove Olive Oil From Clothes

What Clothes Can You Wash in a Dishwasher?

As mentioned above, there are a few clothes that you can try to wash in a dishwasher. Eager to know what they are? Let’s look into it.

1. Baseball Cap

You can wash a baseball cap in the dishwasher. Dirt and stain removal become possible due to the high temperature and water pressure. The spinning functionality helps the cap restore its original sheen. Baseball is durable and preshrunk; it doesn’t show any adverse effects after washing it in a dishwasher.

2. Canvas Shoes

It’s even safe to wash canvas shoes in the dishwasher. It is because the canvas is durable and can tolerate the high pressure of the dishwasher. The only thing you need to do is run a self-cleaning cycle after every wash in the dishwasher. It helps you eliminate all detergent residue and dirt from the dishwasher.

3. Tool Belts

If your job involves using a tool belt, you can wash it in a dishwasher when it gets dirty. Washing the tool belt by hand is tedious, so the dishwasher is helpful here. The dishwasher frees the tool belt from all stains and odors and sanitizes it perfectly. The tool belt fabric is also durable and can stand the dishwasher cycle.

4. Wrist and Head Bands

You can safely wash wristbands and headbands in a dishwasher. The durable fabric and elasticity of these materials allow them to withstand high pressure and temperatures and, therefore, can be put into a dishwasher to get cleaned.

Washing Machine Alternatives

Here are a few options to wash your clothes without a washing machine.

  1. Hand Wash
  2. Use a Laundry Service
  3. Non-Electric Washing Machine
  4. Portable Household Ultrasonic Cleaner


Washing clothes in the dishwasher is a bad idea. It’s disastrous for the clothes and for the dishwasher too. The design of the dishwasher aims to clean sturdy materials. It fails to wash garments; however, you can toss a few clothes in the dishwasher, such as baseball caps, canvas shoes, wrist bands, and tool belts.

If you don’t have access to a washing machine, it’s best to hand wash your clothes or get them laundered by an external agency. Other options, such as a non-electric washing machine or a portable household ultrasonic cleaner, can also serve the purpose much better than a dishwasher.

Related: Can you wash clothes without detergent?

Related: Laundry detergent alternatives

Related: Can you use body wash as laundry detergent?