Are Pans Dishwasher Safe? An Expert Guide

Published on 02/20/2024 · 7 min readCurious about cleaning your pans? Our expert guide explores which pans are dishwasher-safe and how to maintain them for longevity and performance.
Kylee Hazelgren, Kitchen Expert
By Kitchen Expert Kylee Hazelgren

Photo by Yulia B.

Who doesn't love the convenience of a dishwasher? The ability to just toss in your dishes, utensils, bowls, and cutting boards makes cleanup that much easier. But then comes the question: Is it safe to put your pots and pans in the dishwasher?

The main thing that you’re going to want to pay attention to before going full send and throwing a pan in the dishwasher, hoping everything will turn out fine, is the material your cookware is made of and the manufacturer's care instructions. I have been guilty in the past of glancing over a pan and shrugging my shoulders as I put it in the dishwasher while I cross my fingers and hope for the best. But that is now a thing of the past for me, and I'll tell you why.

Starting out, my pots and pans mostly consisted of hand-me-downs. There were no manufacturer instructions to read and I had no idea how anyone was taking care of the cookware before me. I did the best I knew how in terms of taking care of them, but I have to admit that since I wasn’t sure how previous owners were taking care of those items, I didn’t put too much thought into it when I was cleaning my pans. After a couple of years of this, my pans and pots were worn down, and it was time to replace them. Food began sticking to my non-stick pans, and I noticed some chipping and cracking in my enamel cast iron.

That's when I began doing my research and realized how much money I was throwing down the drain by putting my pans in the dishwasher use after use. Since having to reinvest in my pots and pans, I formed a new care habit for my cookware. I always follow those care instructions!

If you’re like me and are tired of throwing your money away by buying new cookware year after year, it’s time to start taking proper care of your pots and pans. That means figuring out what type of cookware is safe to go in the dishwasher and what cookware needs to be handwashed.

Over at Curated, we have a wide variety of options to choose from. If you’d like a personalized recommendation for dishwasher-safe cookware, connect with a Curated Kitchen Expert to help you get set up.

What Does Dishwasher Safe Mean?

This might seem like a silly question, but what does it actually mean? To put it simply, it means that you can put those pots or pans in the dishwasher, and they will retain their shape, performance, and appearance afterward.

What Materials Are Dishwasher Safe?

This is an important fact to consider because every type of material will respond differently to high water pressure, harsh detergents, and intense heat during the drying cycle. So let’s break it down.

Stainless Steel

Photo by Proxima Studio

Stainless steel cookware is a tried and true material for cookware in the kitchen. Its durability, high heat tolerance, and non-reactive surface make it an excellent option for cookware.

Most stainless steel pots and pans are dishwasher safe. But before going that route, make sure to check the handle materials to ensure they are also dishwasher safe. Some handles are made from different materials other than stainless steel, like wood or some plastics as they could potentially get damaged or warp because of the dishwasher’s hot water and high heat.

Traditional Non-Stick

Photo by Boontoom Sae-Kor

Nonstick is well-loved and sought after by consumers because of the ease it offers in the kitchen. You have more of an option to cook with or without oil because of the non-stick coating, and when you’re done cooking, cleaning is easy breezy since you shouldn’t have any stuck-on food.

Many brands market their nonstick cookware as “dishwasher safe.” However, speaking from experience, I have put many different types of nonstick cookware in the dishwasher over the years, and no matter how high its quality, I find that over time the coating chips and flakes or the surface loses its nonstick qualities.

That’s why I always recommend handwashing your nonstick cookware. Because it is nonstick, the cleanup shouldn’t require any extra elbow grease, and your nonstick surface will last you so much longer this way. Since you won’t need to replace your cookware every couple of years, it is also beneficial for your bank account.

Ceramic Non-Stick

Photo by Krasula

Ceramic nonstick has become more popular in the last few years. Many people are leaning this way because the ceramic coating is considered a healthier alternative to traditional nonstick coatings. Ceramic nonstick offers a similar cooking experience, as you get to enjoy the ease of cooking and cleaning without food stuck to your pans.

My recommendation for cleaning is going to be the same as the traditional nonstick, even if the cookware is advertised as dishwasher safe. You can probably get away with putting the cookware in the dishwasher every so often but try to avoid doing this every time. The dishwasher’s high temperature can lead to the cracking and wearing down of the ceramic nonstick coating over time. If the longevity of your pans is important to you, consider cooking on medium to medium-low heat and washing by hand with a non-abrasive scrub brush and dish soap.

Cast Iron

Photo by Tomophafan

Cast iron has been around for many generations and remains popular because of its durability, high heat retention, and ability to transfer from stovetop to oven. Over time, cast iron can create a seasoned surface that will act as a natural nonstick coating. This is done by adding a thin layer of oil after each use. All of these reasons have made this type of cookware a staple in many households.

A drawback that holds many consumers back from wanting to go the cast iron route is the maintenance and care it takes. Cast iron should never be put in the dishwasher; instead, it should be washed by hand with only water, a scrub brush, and, if necessary, a little salt to get off any stuck-on food. After cleaning, apply a thin layer of neutral oil such as avocado oil or canola oil with a dedicated rag, and it’s ready to go for its next use. If cast iron is put in the dishwasher it will rust, erode any built-up seasoning, and has the potential to crack or warp.

Enameled Cast Iron

Photo by Arina P Habich

Enameled cast iron cookware has been made popular largely by brands like Le Creuset. This type of cookware is constructed of cast iron with an enameled coating to protect it. This coating has natural nonstick properties and is a lot easier to maintain than raw cast iron.

This is another case where although a brand might say it is safe to put this cookware in a dishwasher, it’s best practice to handwash instead. The wash cycle of the dishwasher has the potential to wear down the enamel coating over time and could result in the chipping or cracking of your pans. To get the longest lifespan out of your enameled cast iron pan, cook on medium to medium-low heat and let your cookware fully cool down before handwashing.

Aluminum

Photo by Fabrika Simf

Aluminum cookware is lightweight, affordable, versatile, and does an excellent job at conducting heat. For these reasons, it makes this type of cookware popular choice.

How to clean aluminum cookware depends largely on what other materials it’s made of. Generally speaking, aluminum is considered to be dishwasher safe. However, if your aluminum cookware has a nonstick coating, then follow the recommendation under the nonstick section to avoid placing it in the dishwasher and instead wash it by hand.

Another thing to consider is the age of your cookware. If your aluminum pans or pots are older they will be more likely to be damaged in the dishwasher.

Find the Best Dishwasher-Safe Pans for You

Hopefully, this short "how to" provided you with some insight on properly caring for your pots and pans and gave you an idea about materials that are the safest to put in the dishwasher. If you still feel uncertain about your specific cookware or you would like to browse some dishwasher-safe cookware options, chat with a Curated Kitchen Expert. We'd be happy to guide you in the right direction and offer any tips or advice.

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

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