Can You Put Pots and Pans in the Dishwasher?

Faced with the residue from a big meal, it’s tempting to toss everything into the dishwasher and close the door.

Nonstick Cookware

Pots and pans in a full dishwasher.Pots and pans in a full dishwasher.
But in general, it's better to wash pots and pans by hand.

According to the Dupont company, which makes Teflon, and the Calphalon company, which makes nonstick cookware, the new nonstick coatings on pots and pans stand up just fine to mechanical dishwashing. If a manufacturer says its pieces aren’t dishwasher safe, however, wash the cookware by hand with liquid detergent.

Metal Cookware

Unless coated with enamel, cast iron should never go in the dishwasher; water destroys the cookware’s seasoning and causes rust. Likewise, the protective coating on aluminum pans will wear quickly if machine washed, and copper is subject to pitting and tarnishing. Stainless steel cookware takes dishwashing with no problem, although the finish may dull over time.

Other Materials

Glass pots and pans can go in the dishwasher, but non-phosphate detergents tend to leave a film on glass when used in hard water. Cookware with wooden handles should stay out; the handles may loosen and warp. Repeated dishwashing of enameled pots and pans often dulls their color. They also are prone to chipping.

About the Author

Since 1981 Janet Bayers has written on travel, real estate trends and gardening for "The Oregonian" newspaper in Portland. Her work also has appeared in “Better Homes & Gardens,” “Traditional Home,” “Outdoor Living” and other shelter magazines. She holds a Master of Arts in linguistics from Michigan State University.