Dishwasher Safe Symbols Explained

Dishwasher-safe symbols can help you determine which rack to place dishes on and if they’re safe for the dishwasher at all.

While throwing all your dirty pots and pans in the dishwasher is a time saver, not everything can withstand the high heat. Items like thin plastic, copper, and cast iron must be hand washed. Other delicate items may be safe for the top rack only.

Here are dishwasher-safe symbols, explained.

What Does A Dishwasher Safe Symbol Look Like?

Dishwasher Safe Symbols

Dishwasher-safe symbols are not universal, meaning you may see a variety of symbols that all mean the same thing.

A square that shows one or two circular plates with a spray or drops of water indicates the item is dishwasher safe. 

If the spray or drops of water only hit the top of the dish, the item is safe for the top rack. Top rack dishwasher safe items may also have text on the square box.

You should always check plastic, glass, and ceramic dishes to ensure they can go in the dishwasher.

What Does it Mean if a Dish Has Numbers of Degrees On It?

A box with numbers or degrees represents the minimum and maximum temperature a dish can withstand. These numbers indicate if a dish is safe to freeze or the maximum heat the dish can handle.

Pay attention to the maximum degrees symbol. According to GE, dishwashers reach between 120 and 150F. If your dish can’t reach temperatures of at least 150F, it’s unsafe for the dishwasher.

Other Common Dish Symbols

While there are five other common symbols on dishes, none have to do with being dishwasher safe.

  • A square with waves or a microwave means the dish is microwave safe.
  • The dish is recyclable if you see a triangle made of three arrows.
  • A square with a wine glass and fork on it means the item is food safe.
  • A cartoon oven indicates the dish is oven-safe.
  • A snowflake on the bottom of a dish means it’s freezer safe.

What Items are Not Dishwasher Safe?

Many everyday kitchen items can’t handle the high heat or harsh detergent. Here’s what (and why) you shouldn’t put in the dishwasher:

  • Sharp knives will dull.
  • Cast iron can develop rust.
  • Aluminum pans will get scratched.
  • Pans with non-stick coatings may wear down.
  • Wooden dishes, cutting boards, and utensils can warp.
  • Copper will dull.
  • Anything with electrical components can get ruined.
  • Anything hand painted.

Look for the dishwasher-safe symbol if you’re ever in doubt about an item. If you don’t find one, hand wash the dish or look on the manufacturer’s website for specifics.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What does the Rubbermaid dishwasher safe symbol look like?

Rubbermaid dishwasher-safe symbols look like a plate with bubbles and text underneath. If the text says “dishwasher safe,” you can put it on any rack. If the text says “top rack,” place the item on the top rack of your dishwasher.

Why are some items only safe for the top rack of the dishwasher?

Since heating elements are on the bottom of a dishwasher, the top rack doesn’t get as hot, which is why more fragile items, like plastic Tupperware, are top-rack safe only.

Can you put plastic plates in the dishwasher?

Not all plastic plates are dishwasher safe. Look for the dishwasher safe symbol on the bottom of the plate, which looks like a dish with water on it. 

Can you put Good2Grow bottles in the dishwasher?

According to the manufacturer, you can wash the tops of the Good2Grow 6 oz. juice spouts and 8 oz. milk spouts in the top rack of your dishwasher. You need to hand clean the bottles.

Can you put enamel-coated cast iron in the dishwasher?

Thanks to its protective coating, enamel-coated cast iron is dishwasher safe.

What is the dishwasher safe symbol on plastic?

If you’re unsure whether your plastic item is dishwasher safe, look for a square that depicts a plate with lines or drops of water on it. If the water or lines are on the bottom and top of the plate, you can put your plastic on any rack. If the water is only on the top of the symbol, the plastic is top rack safe.

Final Thoughts

Throwing everything in the dishwasher is easy and convenient but not always the best route. Some dishes – especially plastic – are not dishwasher safe. They can warp, emit harmful chemicals, and crack when exposed to high heat.

The best way to find out if your item is dishwasher safe is to look for the symbol. While these symbols aren’t universal, a plate or set of plates with lines or drops of water indicates the item can go in the dishwashing machine.