Manufacturers have many different methods and symbols to indicate that an item may be safely washed in your dishwasher. The symbols may be a pictograph or text or combine the two for clarity. The best course of action to take if you are unsure whether an item is dishwasher safe is to contact the manufacturer of the item.
Zak Global Headquarters uses a dishwasher pictograph to demonstrate a product's dishwasher-safe status. The company's symbol shows an open dishwasher with a rack of dishes rendered in black and white. Circulon uses a symbol that represents the washing action of the machine. The company's pictogram appears after the statement "suitable for." The symbol, rendered in black on white, appears surrounded by a circle inside a square. The circle holds seven wavy lines that may stand for water or washing. Beneath the symbol, the word "Dishwasher" is printed in bold capital lettering. One plastic container company uses an inverted glass symbol with three water drops falling across the surface to indicate that its materials are dishwasher-safe. Other manufacturers use a green box outline containing a checkmark before the text "Dishwasher Safe."
Consumers can look for text-only indications that a product may be used in the dishwasher. The words "dishwasher-safe" may be found on the packaging itself or in the product manual of such items. Users should be aware that any of the dishwasher-safe symbols found pictured with a bold black line across the face of the symbol indicate that the item is not dishwasher safe. Additionally, consumers may want to look for a cracked wineglass symbol, indicating fragile items that may require special handling to prevent breakage in the dishwasher.
Many manufacturers produce items that they declare dishwasher safe but recommend against taking advantage of this convenience. Calphalon, for example, adds the disclaimer that the pan or pot is dishwasher safe, but hand washing is recommended regarding many of its pieces of cookware. Harsh dishwasher detergents can damage the pans, and the decision to risk washing the item in the dishwasher comes with a potential penalty. Unapproved care may void your product warranty.
The materials from which the product was made affect whether it may be dishwasher safe. For example, cast iron should not be placed in the dishwasher as doing so may rust the pan and strip away layers of seasoning; however, enamelled cast iron manufacturers, such as Le Creuset, note that some of their items are dishwasher safe as the cast iron has a protective covering of enamel. Even so, the company warns that frequent cleaning in the dishwasher may dull the finish of enamelled pieces and recommends that its products receive hand washing, attesting to the importance of always checking the manufacturer's directions regarding care.