“If you’re loading your dishwasher with non-kitchen items, be sure to empty out the appliance completely, and depending on the item you plan to clean, use detergent at your own discretion,” says Berry. (If you’re washing an item that might be at risk for discoloration, make sure you use a detergent that doesn’t contain bleach, he adds.)
Also, be mindful that there are heating elements at the bottom of your machine. “A general rule of thumb is to place any item you’re worried about damaging-or potentially falling into the heating element-into a mesh bag before running a cleaning cycle,” says Berry.
If the items you cleaned weren’t that dirty or just needed a freshening up, you can go back to your regularly scheduled programming. But if you notice any lingering residue or smells in your dishwasher, make sure to clean it before doing your next load of dishes.
Start with cleaning the drain. “After washing items not meant for the dishwasher, it’s essential to remove any gunk left behind from the drain,” says Cyrus Bedwyr, a professional kitchen and oven cleaning specialist for Fantastic Services in the UK. “This will increase the dishwasher’s cleaning efficiency and prevent future damage.”
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