Do plastic cups, plates belong in a dishwasher?

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Plastic plates, cups, and utensils are great for cooking out, but are they safe for the dishwasher?

We love our dishwashers. Toss all your dirty plates and glasses in it, add detergent, and press the button: nothing simpler. But it turns out many of us are putting things in the dishwasher that shouldn't be washed there.

Consumer Reports magazine says the dishwasher is not a good place for your grandmother's glassware, or anything else that can be easily broken or damaged.

Here's a list of items that should be washed by hand:

- Fine crystal: It can be easily damaged.

- Dishes with gold trim: The gold can flake off.

- Soft plastic: It can melt.

- Teflon pans: They can lose their non-stick surface.

- Wooden spoons or cutting boards: They wood will dry out and crack.

- Cast iron pans: they will lose their oily surface.

Experts also say to never put anything that can melt too close to the dishwasher's heating element. Consumer Reports says if there's any question about a plastic cup or plate, place it on the top rack, away from the heat. Better yet, turn off the drying feature for that load.

Bottom line: If you're not sure if the item is dishwasher safe, don't wash it there.  

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