Can You Wash Clothes in a Dishwasher?

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You may have seen it on television where a washing machine breaks down and they just toss their clothes in a dishwasher, but that’s just the movies. In real life, using a dishwasher to wash your clothes will end up damaging your clothes or your dishwasher.

Dishwashers are meant for dishes, obviously. Yet, it’s far more than just that. A dishwasher uses harsh detergents, extremely hot water and can’t rinse the clothes like a standard washing machine. Also, you don’t get the agitator to constantly beat out the clothes to eliminate stains and dirt. Adding your clothes to a dishwasher would mean your clothes would end up being wet and not very clean.

The bottom line, washing machines are specifically designed for washing clothes, and dishwashers are designed for washing dishes; when you switch them up, things don’t work the same.

Washing your clothes in a dishwasher is a bad idea because:

  • It could potentially damage your clothes
  • It could also damage your dishwasher
  • It could void your dishwasher’s warranty
  • A dishwasher won’t dry your clothes properly

We reached out to major dishwasher companies, and they all repeated what we said in this article, don’t put your clothes in your dishwasher.

A dishwasher isn’t designed for cleaning clothes and will end up harming the dishwasher or your clothes.

You say, but wait! What if I don’t have a washing machine? What can I do?

Washing Your Clothes Without a Washing Machine

This is probably why you’re on this article. You’re probably (not always) looking for a way to clean your clothes because your washing machine is broken.

It may be okay to wash shoes or a ball cap in a dishwasher, but as mentioned above, washing your clothes isn’t going to work well.

What are some washing machine alternatives? Here is a helpful list of ways to wash your clothes without the use of a washing machine.

Wash Your Clothes By Hand

The easiest way to wash your clothes without a washing machine is to wash clothes using a wash tub and a washboard. I added links to Amazon for the best products and prices.

For the washboard, I encourage you to pick up a washboard from the Columbus Washboard Company. These washboards are still handmade, high quality, and have generations of success.

A good quality wash tub and a washboard is a good insurance policy in an emergency. It’s like investing in a Harvestright Freeze Dryer and building a stockpile of food; it’s always nice to have it when needed. If the power goes out at any time, having a way to wash your clothes is so important, and a washboard and washtub will give you the tools you need to keep clean clothes in your home.

I heard of people putting their clothes in a washtub, throwing them in the back of a truck, and taking them for a ride. The hope is that the truck will swish back and forth and eventually clean the cloth, but this just doesn’t work. You need some sort of agitator in order to produce clean clothes, and a washboard will help you achieve that.

It’s also a good idea to let your clothes soak overnight to help you remove stubborn stains.

Use a Non-Electric Washing Machine

The next option is to grab an EcoSpin hand washing machine from Amazon. Non-electric washing machines are compact and do a great job cleaning your clothes. Your clothes come out 95% dry, so it also saves drying time.

Washing your clothes without a washing machine can save your money and could potentially save wear and tear on your clothes.

You’ll need some laundry soap (Amazon has a great deal on biodegradable laundry soap), and some sort of drying rank.

As you would with washing your clothes in a washing machine, separate your clothes into darks and whites.

Fill the sink with water, of course, cool water will save you money.

Add some biodegradable laundry soap, let the laundry soap dissolve, and then agitate the water as required. You can place the clothes into the bucket and then let them soak for a few hours – overnight would be best. As it’s soaking, you can agitate the clothes periodically. You can use the crank on the top of the non-electric washing machine to accomplish this.

You can use the leftover water to water your plants.

You’ll want to do this again with clean water to rinse your clothes. There you have it, perfectly clean clothes. Now you just hang them up to dry.

Portable Household Ultrasonic Cleaner

An ultrasonic cleaner (Link takes you to the best price on Amazon) uses small particles (similar to an electric toothbrush) to break down stains from your clothing and is a fantastic replacement for hand scrubbing.

Purchasing a portable household ultrasonic cleaner is a great idea because it will:

  • Save you money
  • It’s versatile
  • It’s eco-friendly
  • It’s really easy to operate
  • You can take it with you anywhere

You place the ultrasonic cleaner into the water and it creates sonic waves to break down the dirt that’s in your clothes. You just add your clothes to a wash tub with the ultrasonic cleaner and you’re clothed with come-out cleaner than when you started.

Ultrasonic cleaners are cheaper to operate than a washing machine (of course, it’s a much smaller load), and works well if you’re stuck without a washing machine. It’s definitely going to work far better than using a dishwasher.

Can I Wash My Ball Cap in a Dishwasher?

Yes. It’s perfectly safe to wash your ball cap in your dishwasher.

Though washing clothes in a dishwasher is a bad idea, the exception would be washing a ball cap. Washing a ball cap can be done on the delicate cycle in a washing machine or you can use your dishwasher using a cap frame, all by itself (not with any dishes).

Place the hat on the top rank of your dishwasher and use a non-bleach detergent. If your hat is really dirty, you can pretreat it with a stain remover.

I would also recommend that you use warm water and not sanitize.

Once the dishwasher has finished the cycle, you can remove the ball cap and place it somewhere to air dry.

Can Dishwasher Detergent Be Used For Laundry?

Not all dishwasher soap is equal.

You need to make sure that the dishwasher detergent doesn’t contain bleach. If your dishwasher detergent doesn’t have any bleach, you can go ahead and use it in your washing machine, but it’s not really comparable to laundry soap.

The issue that I would have with dishwasher detergent for washing your clothes is the smell. It’s not a nice scent for clothes, but it would work if you’re in a pinch.


Washing your clothes in a dishwasher is a bad idea. Like anything in life, using the right tools for the job is important.

A dishwasher is designed for dishes and doesn’t work well for clothes. If you don’t have a working washing machine, then use one of the options I suggested in this article.


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