Sustainability made simple

Why You Shouldn’t Put Certain Pans in the Dishwasher

pan in dishwasher
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Ernest_Roy

Not sure whether to put your pots and pans in the dishwasher? Here's a list of what can and can't go in the dishwasher, plus some easy alternative cleaning methods.

There’s nothing worse than dealing with a heap of pots and pans after you’ve cooked a good meal. The aftermath may not be fun, but throwing your pan in the dishwasher could ruin it. This is especially true for cast-iron, non-stick, aluminum and copper pans. Read on to learn more about which items you can put in the dishwasher or what you might want to do instead.

Which Pans Do Not Belong in the Dishwasher?

It can be harmful to put some types pots and pans in the dishwasher.
It can be harmful to put some types pots and pans in the dishwasher.


Cast-iron has many benefits; however, it is definitely a dishwasher no-go. Dishwasher detergent combined with warm water will strip cast iron coating — leaving your cast-iron pots, pans and skillets vulnerable to rust.

Instead, scrub your cast-iron pans with a simple coarse salt and water solution, and pass over the soap and steel wool, which can damage the surface. If needed, boil some water in the pan to remove tough stains.


While some newer non-stick pots and pans can safely go in the dishwasher, many can’t. Unless the manufacturer has labeled them dishwasher-friendly, avoid putting these pans in the dishwasher. Furthermore, despite being classified as safe for the dishwasher, non-stick coating can quickly break down when repeatedly exposed to high temperatures and harsh chemicals.

Alternatively, you can deal with most non-stick food residue with a bit of water and soap. If needed, soak the pan for a few minutes before washing off any remaining grime with a soft sponge or cloth. You can even make homemade dish soap to help with this process and keep your kitchen cleanup routine sustainable.


Aluminum pans often get confused with stainless steel. They may look similar, but aluminum pans are not suitable for the dishwasher. The high water temperature causes oxidation — rusty pans aren’t far behind.

A little bit of elbow grease is the best alternative to putting aluminum pans in the dishwasher. Start with some soap and water, and use some apple cider vinegar to clean any tough spots. Don’t leave aluminum pots and pans soaking in water for too long, as this also speeds up oxidation and encourages rust.


Copper pots and pans are not dishwasher-friendly. The dishwasher dulls copper surfaces and can even make the pans go completely off-color. Without proper care, the surfaces of copper pots and pans will eventually turn black or dark brown. Luckily, there are ways to clean copper pots and pans naturally without any side effects.

Instead of the dishwasher, good old soap and water are best for cleaning copper wares. You have a few options for tough, stuck-on food and stains. You can make a quick mix of apple cider vinegar and salt, let it rest on the surface, then wipe clean. Run-of-the-mill ketchup is another classic helper: the acid in ketchup dissolves the oxidation that turns the surfaces of copper kitchenware black.

What Pans Can Go in the Dishwasher?

Stainless-steel pots and pans can go in the dishwasher.
Stainless-steel pots and pans can go in the dishwasher.

Now that we’ve covered what pots and pans aren’t a good choice for dishwashers, let’s move on to what you can throw in there safely.

The best dishwasher-friendly pots and pans are:

  • Stainless steel 
  • Aluminum with a dishwasher-friendly label

Some people also argue that non-stick can go in the dishwasher as well. While this is technically true, provided they come with a dishwasher-friendly label, it’s not a great idea in the long term.

Cleaning Tips and Takeaways for Pans & Pots

If you need a few sustainable cleaning supplies to kick off your pot-cleaning spree, here are a few we recommend:

  • Plant-based dish soap (Amazon**): This soap is vegan, cruelty-free and hypoallergenic. What’s more, it’s biodegradable and low on plastic packaging. 
  • Eco-friendly sponges (Amazon**): These sponges are plant-based and biodegradable. They’re made of natural fibers and come in recyclable packaging. 

Check out some of our guides for more sustainable cleaning tips.

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** Links to retailers marked with ** or underlined orange are partially partner links: If you buy here, you actively support, because we will receive a small part of the sales proceeds. More info.

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