Here is something you might not have heard before: Dishwashers aren’t just for washing dishes! Many household items could benefit from a good scrubbing, and the dishwasher is the ideal appliance for the job. It provides steam and heat to clean and disinfect toys and other objects that collect germs around the house.

The thought of washing anything other than dishes in a dishwasher might make you nervous. But fear not. Many moms use the dishwasher when odds and ends need a good scrub. The cost for cleaning products used to disinfect household items can add up fast, especially when a busy family is involved (all those toys, soccer  equipment, gardening supplies and more). The only other way to sanitize an object without chemicals is with heat, making the dishwasher a perfect choice. Filling the dishwasher to capacity cleans more items in a shorter amount of time and with fewer chemicals.

Read on to see how the dishwasher can be used to clean household objects. Remember it’s best to wash the following items without any dishes or silverware in the dishwasher.

Ball caps

Cotton baseball caps can get bent in the washing machine but hold their shape well in the dishwasher! This is especially true if you tuck them inside a Balll Cap Washer for extra protection.

Rain boots

As we all know, rain boots are worn on the muddiest of days. If your boots are lined, see if the liner can be removed. Then, lie the boot horizontally. You can also hook flip-flops in the top rack to get them sparkling like new. Caution: Crocs are not dishwasher-safe. Don’t even try it!

Action figures

Action figures and other small toys can be tucked into a mesh lingerie bag and placed on the top rack. Avoid washing small dolls that have hair because it can melt or fall out because of the heat, causing a mess!

Kitchen hardware

Are the kitchen cabinet knobs starting to look greasy and grimy? Toss them in the silverware basket! Just remove from the cabinet doors, set screws aside, and toss into the basket to wash. When the cycle is over, those knobs will shine like new.

Household tools

Any household tools with metal or plastic handles can be washed in the dishwasher (including screwdrivers, hammers, etc.). Towel-dry immediate to prevent rusting.

Vent covers

These can get quite dusty and dirty and need washing a few times a year. Keeping these vents clean benefits any family members with allergies. Vents that are plastic, aluminum, or steel are dishwasher safe. Don’t use this method to clean enameled, painted, or plated vents.

Hair brushes

Disinfect combs and hairbrushes that are made of plastic (don’t try this with wood or natural bristle brushes). Before washing, be sure to remove any hair from combs and brushes to protect the drain!

Sports guards

Shin and knee guards and mouth guards can be disinfected and cleaned in the dishwasher.

Garden tools

Clean up a shovel and even rubber gloves quite easily in a dishwasher. Wash all metal tools, and avoid ones with wooden handles.

Light fixture covers

Just like the vents, light fixture covers (globes) need regular washing to remove dust. Glass fixtures are safe in the top rack (antique, enameled, or painted pieces aren’t dishwasher safe).

For all of the above tricks and tips, use a basic, everyday setting rather than a heavy duty setting such as the “pots and pans” option. A heated drying method is safe to use as is a standard dishwashing detergent (but avoid any additives such as finishing solutions).

Just like an excessive amount of food can keep a dishwasher from functioning its best, so can excessively muddy boots or other objects that may be covered in a more than normal amount of grime. Before putting these items in the dishwasher, treat them as you would a food-caked dish and rinse off any excess dirt.