Dishwashers make cleaning up a breeze. More than 89 million homes in the U.S. have a dishwasher, but nearly one in five households don’t use it because people simply don’t know what can — and can’t — be cleaned in the dishwasher. One way to help distinguish what can go into this appliance is the symbols on tableware indicating what is dishwasher safe. But the symbols don’t just stop at the dishwasher. There are a myriad of symbols that might crop up on tableware specifying what can go in the microwave, what can be placed in the freezer, and more. We’ve done the detective work for you and compiled a list of common flatware symbols, so you no longer have to guess.
Dishwasher Safe Symbols
There is no universal dishwasher safe symbol, but there are four that are most commonly used.
Additionally, an icon may indicate if the dishwasher-safe item should only be washed on the top rack because it’s heat-sensitive.
Other Dishware Symbols
Aside from dishwasher safe icons, there are a handful of other symbols you might see on the bottoms of your tableware.
Hand Wash Only
A hand reaching into a water tub indicates that a dish can only be hand-washed and might be damaged in the dishwasher due to high heat.
Three or four wavy lines (sometimes accompanied by “microwave” or “micro”) indicate that a dish can be microwaved. There might also be a dish depicted underneath the wavy lines.
A snowflake indicates that a dish withstands cold temperatures and can be used for freezer storage.
Temperature Maximum and Minimum
Two numbers separated by a horizontal line indicate a maximum temperature (on top) and a minimum temperature (on bottom) for safe baking and food storage. This is often seen on glass baking dishes.
Induction Cooktop Safe
A squiggly line represents a coil, indicating that something is safe to use on an induction cooktop, which uses a copper coil to generate electromagnetic energy.
Three arrows forming a triangle indicate that a dish is recyclable. There might be a number ranging from one to seven inside the triangle, indicating the type of plastic. Some towns only take specific plastic numbers, so check before recycling.
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