It seems that you can wash almost anything in a dishwasher. This convenient appliance is a must-have in any kitchen, restaurant, and place where food is prepared and served. In fact, doing the dishes by hand is, for many persons, a thing of the past. After all, dishwashers are like all-purpose solutions to every cleaning problem there is.
But the truth is, you cannot wash everything in your dishwasher. That’s why items are sometimes labeled “dishwasher safe.” Some items, by their very nature, cannot be washed in a dishwasher. Dishwashers may destroy them during the wash cycle.
One reason to be cautious when cleaning items in the dishwater is that it typically uses detergents that can be abrasive. The water may also be “hard” and can affect the polish or coating of whatever item you put in your dishwasher.
Stainless steel is one item that persons doubt could go inside a dishwasher. That’s why the question of whether stainless-steel is dishwasher safe is so pertinent.
Stainless Steel is dishwasher safe
With a few exceptions, you can put stainless steel items in the dishwasher. The detergent won’t damage the metal nor tarnish the stainless-steel polish. To ensure that the dishwasher or the stainless-steel items are not damaged, put them in the top rack or the cutlery basket when cleaning them. Also, you would need to dry your stainless-steel items carefully.
What is stainless steel?
Stainless steel is a metal alloy made from iron and around 10% chromium. Other elements such as nickel, manganese, silicon, and carbon are in stainless-steel. If you see the words “18/10” stamped on stainless-steel flatware, they mean that this flatware contains 18% chromium and 10% nickel among other elements.
Also, stainless-steel items are usually coated with a surface film of chromium oxide that keeps the metal below it protected against the oxygen in the water. With this protection, stainless-steel will not rust. Because of this, you can put your stainless-steel items in the dishwasher. One thing though, wash your stainless-steel knives manually instead of with the dishwasher. That’s is because the dishwasher detergent is very abrasive and will make the blade dull.
You can also put any stainless-steel flatware in your dishwasher. You will, however, need to rinse them off before putting them in it. Furthermore, don’t allow them to be exposed to the acid from food for too long before you wash them. To ensure that your stainless-steel flatware does not get discolored, dry them off immediately after you remove them. Also, to prevent discoloration of your silverware, use a stainless-steel cleaner instead of hard water.
If flatware can be put in a dishwasher, what about pots and pans?
As with flatware, dishwasher detergent or minerals in water will cause spotting, discoloration, and even corrosion if used on pots and pans. Also, the polish that gives stainless-steel its sheen would be tarnished. That said, you may clean your pots and pans in a dishwasher. Make sure they are marked “dishwasher safe.”
How to clean stainless steel
However, instructions to clean stainless-steel do not emphasize the use of the dishwasher. Instead, they state that if your stainless-steel pots and pans have encrusted food on them, you are to soak them in warm soapy water for several hours. Here are other instructions to get your stainless-steel utensils nice and clean again.
- Cleaning with baking soda: Dry the stainless-steel pan or utensil completely. Sprinkle baking soda on the surface of your utensils then rub with a dry sponge or cloth. If necessary, you may add water to the baking soda to make a paste that you can use.
- Cleaning water spots: Caused by the minerals in the water, water spots can be easily removed with club soda after which you rinse and dry. Alternatively, you may soak your pans and pots in vinegar then clean with a gentle detergent and a soft cloth.
- Removing serious burn marks: If your stainless-steel pots or pans have hard to remove burn marks, pour enough water to cover the damaged area and boil it. Add salt (a few spoonfuls) and turn the stove off. Note that it is better to add the salt to boiling water. Adding salt to cold water will pit the metal. An alternative is to add lemon juice or white vinegar to the boiling water for the same results. Leave the pan to sit for a few hours. Empty it and try scrubbing with a scouring pad. If the burn area remains, repeat the process.
- Set up a cleaning routine: Since the stainless-steel cookware you have bought is your investment, you should take care of it. Clean regularly with the right cleaning solutions, particularly those made for stainless-steel. Also, don’t allow food to stick to your stainless-steel pots and pans.
Instructions also recommend that you avoid cleaning stainless-steel cookware in your dishwasher. The reason? Cleaning your stainless-steel utensils in the dishwasher will dramatically reduce their life and make them look dull. If, however, you cannot avoid using the dishwasher, you may rinse your utensils with club soda and dry them off with a soft, clean cloth. You won’t have water spots on them after you do that.
So, the answer to the question, “is stainless-steel dishwasher safe?” is yes, but under certain circumstances. Although no rule says you can’t clean your stainless-steel items in a dishwasher, some instructions say you can, while others disagree. The dishwasher is, however, a convenient way of washing items that are safe. For stainless-steel items, you would need to confirm with their descriptions, that they are safe to be cleaned in a dishwasher. That is, they are “dishwasher safe.” If not, then avoid putting them in the dishwasher. That said, you may clean your stainless-steel flatware, cutlery and pots & pans in your dishwasher. You would need to first remove excess food residue from them before you put in the dishwasher. Also, dry them off quickly after you are through. When you follow these tips for cleaning your stainless-steel, you will have a better result.