If your dishwasher is just cleaning dishes, then it isn't living up to its potential. There are many things you can safely wash in a dishwasher.
Any of these listed items can go through a "normal" wash cycle, unless otherwise noted.
And, of course, use common sense when cleaning nonconventional items in the dishwasher -- if you plan to clean an item on this list, inspect it for any plastic components that might not withstand the heat of a normal wash cycle.
- Silicone oven mitts and trivets: Stick them in every time you do a load to keep them germ-free.
- Hubcaps: Yep, that's right. Just add a cup of white vinegar to the detergent you normally use.
- Figurines: Get the dust off of figurines by putting them on the top shelf of the dishwasher on a gentle cycle. Don't put delicate or gilded figurines in the dishwasher, though.
- Tools: Wrenches, pliers and screwdrivers tend to get a sticky, greasy feel to them. Put them in the dishwasher on the hottest cycle with your normal detergent.
- Toys: Putting toys in the dishwasher will not only de-goo them, it will also sanitize them.
- Flip-flops: Put them on the top shelf for the best results.
- Rubber boots: Put them upside down on the bottom rack to remove grime. Just make sure to wipe off any large areas of mud first.
- Hairbrushes: Remove the hair from the brush by running a wide-tooth comb through it and put the hairbrush in the silverware cup.
- Combs: Throw your heat-safe combs in the silverware cup, too.
- Makeup brushes: Clean these on a low setting, so as not to melt the glue that holds the brush hairs together.
- Ball caps: To help keep the cap's shape, put it on a coffee can before sticking it in the dishwasher. Also, make sure your dishwashing detergent doesn't have bleach in it before you start the load.
- Kitchen brushes and sponges: Pop these in the silverware cup for a like-new clean.
- Light fixture ($158 at Amazon.com) covers: There's no reason why you need to dust. Just pop them off and put them in the dishwasher on a gentle cycle.
- Coffee maker: Turn the coffee maker upside down and use a gentle cycle. Make sure it dries completely before you plug it back in.
- Golf balls: Put your golf balls in a mesh sack and put them on the bottom shelf.
- Contact lens cases: Put them in the silverware bin to sanitize them at least every month or so.
- Dog toys: Most dog toys are top-rack only.
- Mouth guards: Keep your athlete healthy by sanitizing his mouth guard every day on the top shelf of the dishwasher.
- Grill rack: Make sure you use your hottest setting to get off the grime.
- Dog collar: Put it on the top shelf to get it looking like new.
- Keys: If your baby likes to stick your keys in her mouth, slide the keyring around one of the pegs in the top rack and run a load to kill germs before they make their way into baby's mouth. Just make sure to take the electronic keys off the ring first.
- Shower puff: Your shower puff can get gross if it isn't cleaned regularly. Put it on the top rack during a gentle cycle.
- Hair ties: If your elastics are getting a little grungy, pop them in the bottom of your silverware cup and hold them down with a spoon so they don't fly out during the wash cycle.
- Fingernail clippers: Fingernail clippers can be washed in the silverware cup. Just make get them good and dry to prevent rust.
- Hair trimmer guards: The plastic guards for your electric hair trimmer can be put in a mesh bag and thrown in the top rack to remove bits of hair and oils for the scalp.