Can you wash clothes in a dishwasher? If your washing machine is unavailable or out of order, you may be tempted to toss everything into your dishwasher. After all, both appliances are used to clean things, so it does not seem too far-fetched to think that the same appliance could tackle both tasks.

So what is the answer to whether or not you can put clothes in the dishwasher? No, you cannot put clothes in a dishwasher – doing so could leave your garments dirtier than before and even damage them beyond repair. Your dishwasher is not designed to handle laundry and could leave grease and food stains on your clothes.

Plus, trying to wash clothes might damage them and would void the dishwasher’s warranty. Therefore, washing clothes in a dishwasher is not recommended for several reasons. 

First of all, dishwashers are designed to clean dishes and cookware, not clean clothes. It uses extremely hot water, harsh dishwasher detergents, and powerful spray jets to remove stuck-on food and grime from dishes. On the other hand, washing machines use water, laundry detergent, and agitation to clean clothes.

These design distinctions are why using a dishwasher for washing clothes is not recommended. It would not effectively clean clothes, harm the clothes, damage the dishwasher, and void the manufacturer’s warranty. Not to mention, using your dishwasher to wash clothes is very time-consuming.


Reasons you shouldn’t use your dishwasher to wash clothes


It won’t clean your clothes

Washing machines get clothes clean by agitating them in soapy water. This action helps to remove dirt and stains from most clothing. It also finishes with a final rinse and spin cycle, rinsing out any remaining laundry detergent and eliminating excess water.

In contrast, dishwashers spray water instead of agitating to clean and don’t have a spin cycle. So, your clothes would only get sopping wet and covered in dishwasher detergent. 

The dishwasher would not dry your clothes properly either because it has no spin cycle to wring out any excess water. Its heated drying element can only dry the water off dishes, leaving your clothes wet. In addition, the exposed heating element is a potential safety hazard if you put clothes in the dishwasher because the fabric could catch fire.

Related: Washing Machine Smells Like Mildew? Here’s How to Clean It and Washing Machine Smells Worse After Cleaning: Causes and Solutions


It could damage your clothing

Washing clothes in a dishwasher can cause significant damage to the fabric. This is because clothes are not constructed to handle the high temperatures and harsh dishwasher detergents used in dishwashers to clean dishes and cookware.

The water temperature in a dishwasher is much higher than that of a washing machine, which can cause clothes to shrink or lose color. Dishwashers need to use these high temperatures to kill bacteria on dirty dishes.

It is also possible that your clothing could come into contact with the exposed heating element, which would burn it or cause it to catch fire. Besides the damage to your clothes, this is a significant safety hazard.

Additionally, the harsh detergents are not formulated for use on clothing. They can cause discoloration, fading, or even bleach damage to the fabric. Finally, using laundry detergent in a dishwasher is not an option, as it will accumulate over time and clog the machine.

Plus, adding stains to your clothes from the food scraps in the dishwasher’s drain can also happen.


It could damage your dishwasher and void its warranty

Trying to wash clothes in your dishwasher can cause damage to the machine. Dishwashers are designed to wash dishes, cookware, and utensils, not clothes. 

Dishwashers use powerful spray jets to wash the food and grime off dishes through spinning arms. Unfortunately, clothes can get caught and tangle in the spray arm, causing it to break.

Even putting clothing on the top rack can lead to damage as smaller items could slip to the bottom and clog the drain. This can lead to leaks, flooding, and damage to the dishwasher’s interior.

Washing clothes in a dishwasher also causes a buildup of detergent, dirt, and fabric fibers (1). This can cause the dishwasher to malfunction or break down over time. 

Using the wrong detergent, like laundry detergent or dish soap, can also cause damage. Neither option is formulated to be used in a dishwasher. They can leave a residue that can build up over time, clogging the machine and reducing its efficiency. 

Also, dishwashers cannot handle large clothes like washing machines can. Therefore, attempting to wash clothes in the dishwasher can cause the machine to overwork, leading to breakdowns and repairs.

Dishwasher manufacturers specifically state not to use your dishwasher to wash clothes. Washing clothes in a dishwasher is considered improper use of your appliance and could void the manufacturer’s warranty.

This means that if the dishwasher is damaged due to washing clothes, the cost would not be covered under the dishwasher warranty. Instead, the cost of repairs would be the responsibility of the owner.


It isn’t efficient

Finally, washing clothes in the dishwasher is a time-consuming and inefficient use of your time. A dishwasher cycle can take up to 2-3 hours, while a washing machine cycle takes only 30-60 minutes.

If you try to wash your clothes in multiple loads in the dishwasher, it would further increase the time and energy needed to clean your clothes. Dishwashers use more water and energy to operate than washing machines do. Having high water and heat settings for washing dishes is necessary, but these settings are not required for cleaning clothes.

Related: Washing Machine Smells Bad: Causes and How to Fix it


How can you wash clothes without a washing machine?

If your washing machine is broken, it can be a hassle to figure out how to wash your clothes. However, several options can help you keep your clothes clean and fresh, even if your washing machine is out of commission.

It’s important to remember that washing your clothes without a washing machine can take more time and effort than using a traditional machine.


Hand washing clothes

One option is to hand wash clothes. This is an excellent option for items that need a delicate cycle or might shrink in the dryer, but it also works when you need to wash a few things and your washing machine is unavailable. 

To hand wash your clothes, fill a sink or a basin with warm water and add a small amount of laundry detergent. Gently agitate the water to create suds, then submerge the clothes and gently rub them together to remove stains and dirt.

If your clothes have a few stains, you will want to apply a pre-wash stain remover before putting them in the water. Then, rinse the clothes thoroughly in clean water and gently squeeze out the water before laying them flat to air dry.

Related: How Long Does it Take to Air Dry Clothes?


Go to laundromat

Another option is to take your clothes to a laundromat (2). Laundromats have washing machines and dryers available for public use. This is a convenient option if you have a lot of dirty clothes or bulky items to wash.

Just be sure to check the laundromat’s hours and availability before going. Also, consider bringing something to pass the time, such as a book or music, while you wait for your laundry to be completed.


Use laundry services

You can also use a laundry service. Many dry cleaners offer laundry services, or a local laundromat or private business provides this. They will wash, dry, and fold your clothes, so this is an excellent option if you have a busy schedule or don’t have any extra time to hand wash or wash your clothes at a laundromat.


Portable washing machines

You can also look for a portable washing machine for washing your laundry. These small, compact washing machines can be used to wash clothes. Often used in small spaces, these appliances are easy to use and can be a great option if you do not have access to a standard washing machine.

They may not be as powerful but suitable for day-to-day washing. Just read the instructions carefully and follow them closely to ensure that your clothes are washed properly.


Can you wash clothes in a dishwasher FAQ


What Cannot be washed in a dishwasher?

There is no industry-wide standard for what can be washed in a dishwasher. Still, it is generally agreed that items that can endure high heat, washing sprays, and detergent without being damaged are considered safe for dishwasher use.

The things that cannot be washed in a dishwasher include china, thin plastic, cast iron, copper, non-stick cookware, crystal, delicate glassware, knives, wood, insulated containers, silver, and clothing or fabrics.


How do you wash clothes without a washing machine?

You have a few different options for cleaning clothes without a washing machine: take the old-fashioned route and hand wash them; make a trip to the local laundromat; outsource the job to a laundry service; or make use of a convenient portable washing machine.


Is it better to wash by hand or dishwasher?

It depends on the type of item you are washing. For example, a dishwasher is more efficient and effective for dishes and cookware than washing by hand. However, it is better to hand wash dirty clothes to avoid damaging the clothing or dishwasher.


Are dishwashers better than sink washing?

Yes, dishwashers are generally more efficient and effective than sink washing because they are faster, more sanitary, save water, and remove grime better. They are not better for cleaning your clothing properly, however.



If your washing machine stops working, using your dishwasher to freshen up your laundry might be tempting. However, while the dishwasher and washing machine are used for cleaning, they are not designed to perform the same tasks.

They have different mechanisms and settings that are optimized for different types of items and cleaning needs. For example, you cannot use a dishwasher to wash your clothing as it would not be practical or efficient, plus it could damage your clothing or appliance. 

If your washing machine is broken, there are still ways to keep your clothes clean. You can hand wash your clothes, use a laundromat, use a laundry service, or use a portable washing machine. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is essential to consider which is best for your needs and lifestyle.


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