Washing the dishes can become taxing sometimes. After a long day of working and eating, we only have one thing in mind: rest. Fortunately, the dishwasher can help with sanitizing your kitchenware. But, can you put pans in the dishwasher?
What is a Dishwasher?
Before answering if you can put pans in the dishwasher, let’s identify the general mechanisms of the machine.
A dishwasher serves as an automatic machine designed to clean kitchenware such as plates, bowls, and utensils. Unlike traditional scrubbing which mainly uses manual scrubbing, the dishwasher primarily relies on three things: water, heat, and detergent.
There are many reasons people may want to use the dishwasher to clean their cookware. Mainly, using the dishwasher can save a lot of time and resources.
With the dishwasher, you don’t have to clean off the cookware one by one. You can entirely skip the process of cleaning the oil and leftover food as well as rinsing. Dishwashers are especially helpful when you are the only one working inside the kitchen.
No one wants to clean off the mountain of dishes just after you cook a meal or two. With that said, using the dishwasher has its risks.
There are many reasons your pans might not survive the trip to the dishwasher. This factor includes:
The detergent used in most dishwashers contains abrasive chemicals such as sulfate that can damage the coating of your pans. Although most dishwashers have a rinsing mode where you don’t have to put in a strong detergent, it doesn’t clean the kitchenware thoroughly.
The hot water from the dishwasher used to disinfect your cookware might also break down the coating of the iron or aluminum steel of your pans. The scratched coating will let the hot water seep into the pans. This can result in the rusting of your pan.
Harsh Cleaning Process
The cleaning process inside the dishwasher is very abrasive. The abrasive nature doesn’t just cause scratching. It can also result in dents and deformation of your cooking pans. That’s why manufacturers mostly recommend choosing to handwash over using the dishwasher.
Now that we know the general risks when using a dishwasher let’s get into the specifics.
Can You Put Pans in the Dishwasher?
Whether or not you can put your pans in the dishwasher boils down to two factors: what type of pans do you own, and is it dishwasher safe. By identifying these two factors, you can know what kind of pans you can put in your dishwasher and safely disinfect your cookware. So, to answer the question, it depends.
What Pans Are Dishwasher Safe?
Stainless Steel Pans
Most stainless steel pans are dishwasher safe. Since the pans are made with steel, they are generally resistant to abrasive processes.
You must check if they are uncoated. Putting a coated stainless steel pan in the dishwasher can cause damage to the coating. Other than that, you can wash your stainless steel pan with a dishwasher any time of the day.
Ceramic pans are generally dishwasher safe. Since the ceramic pan has a more durable coating, it can survive washing in the dishwasher.
It’s still better if you check the label of your pan before putting it in the dishwasher.
Glass pans can be safely washed in the dishwasher. Glass is durable enough to be washed in the dishwasher, and it’s not prone to scratches.
Ensure that they are placed in the racks properly to ensure that no cracking happens in your pan.
Enameled cast pans are mostly dishwasher safe. The tough enamel coating will protect your pans from damage inside the dishwasher.
What Pans are NOT Dishwasher Safe?
Washing your non-stick pans in the dishwasher is relatively safe if done occasionally. The mechanisms of the dishwasher can cause damage to the coating of your pans.
Most manufacturers will recommend handwashing your pans since they are mainly prone to damage when not taken care of properly. Although your non-stick pan can survive a one-time trip to the dishwasher, repeated exposure can potentially ruin your pans.
One of the things you must look out for if you use a dishwasher in your pan is the coating. The coating of non-stick pans is commonly made with PTFE or polytetrafluoroethylene. The PTFE is a plastic polymer used as an anti-grease and oil chemical that keeps your food from sticking.
PTFE, as a standard component of non-stick pans, has faced decreased popularity since the late 2010s due to studies concluding potential health risks. Despite this, products with PTFE are still available and used, albeit with more caution and awareness among consumers.
Dishwashers can affect the coating of your cookware, especially if they are made with PTFE. Most dishwasher detergents are made by combining alkali and bleach. Since the layer of the non-stick pan is very sensitive to these chemicals, it can lead to cracking of the coating.
Cast Iron Skillet
It’s not recommended to wash your cast iron skillet in the dishwasher. Although it can survive the trip to the dishwasher, you might have to deal with a damaged seasoning and rusty pan.
If you own a cast-iron skillet, you might know that the cast iron skillet has a coating called patina. The patina is the layer of oil acquired when you season your pan.
If you accidentally use the dishwasher while your pan is inside, it will wash off the patina of your cast iron. Once the layer of oil is removed, the water will seep into your skillet. Since the pan is made out of iron, the moisture from the water will cause rusting to your pan.
Fortunately, you can reverse the damage done in the pan. You can do this by immediately drying your pan in the oven or stovetop and reseasoning it.
We recommend just hand wash your cast iron skillet. Handwashing will lessen the risk of damages to your skillet.
It’s not recommended to wash your aluminum pan inside the dishwasher. The detergent used can corrode and discolor your pan.
If you own a high-quality anodized aluminum pan, putting it inside the dishwasher can cause damage to the coating of the pan. The layer of non-stick coat will be scratched off if you use a dishwasher to clean your anodized aluminum pan.
You can follow the steps here to fix the discoloration on your aluminum pan.
Since copper pans are highly sensitive, washing them in a dishwasher is a no-go. The detergent in the dishwasher will cause discoloration in your pan.
As we know, copper pans are known for their shiny, rose gold color. Running your pan in the dishwasher can cause oxidation, potentially damaging your pan.
How to Know if Your Pan is Dishwasher Safe?
Dishwashers are an easy way to clean and disinfect your kitchenware. You can do it with little to no knowledge of the appliance.
With that said, here are some tips you need to remember when checking if your cookware is dishwasher safe.
Read the Label
If you want to make sure that your cookware is dishwasher safe, you can look at the manufacturer’s label. You can mostly find it in the box that came with your pan.
Look for the Dishwasher Safe Sign
You can look for the dishwasher-safe sign in the box of your pan. It’s mainly shown as a square logo with plates and Glass with water droplets raining down.
You can either find the symbol on the box, the handle, or the bottom of the pan.
Looking at the Manufacturer’s Website
If you bought your pans second hand or just happen to not have any sort of tangible information, you can check the manufacturer’s website if you have no access to the box and labels. Most websites even have guides and tips on how to take care of your pans.
Know What Materials Are Not Dishwasher Safe
Even though most kitchenware such as plates and utensils are generally safe to clean using a dishwasher, this doesn’t apply to all. Here are some materials that you need to keep away from your dishwasher.
- Non-stick Cookware – Pots and pans that are sealed with non-stick coating are generally not safe for the dishwasher. Even non-stick cookware with the dishwasher safe symbol can get damaged and scratched when run in the dishwasher regularly. These damages don’t only apply to cooking pans. You should also keep your non-stick pots and baking pans away from the dishwasher.
- Aluminum Cookware – Same as the non-stick cookware, aluminum pans tend to have a coating that can be damaged when exposed to the dishwasher’s mechanisms.
- Fragile Glass – Although glass kitchenware is generally safe to be washed in the dishwasher, there are a few outliers. Some intricately cast glass can break and chip off when run in the dishwasher, so check the labels first.
These materials commonly found in pans should not be exposed to dishwashers regularly.
To answer the question if you can put pans in the dishwasher, we must know two primary factors: what type of pan it is and if they are dishwasher safe. Some pans, such as those with non-stick coating and aluminum, are generally not washed in the dishwasher.
We hope this article answers your questions. If you have more questions and inquiries, just comment down below.
Michael Johnson is the founder of The Pan Handler, Inspired by his blacksmith grandfather’s legacy has a deep appreciation for hand-crafted pots and pans, he provides invaluable guides, reviews, and recipes to enhance your culinary journey.