Dishwasher full of white plates

Decoding Dishwasher Safe and Other Tableware Symbols

Your tableware has a variety of symbols on them. Some are there to indicate how the item should be washed, while others are there to provide general care instructions. Use this guide to learn how to decode common tableware symbols to better care for your dishes and find out which dishes are best for hand washing and which ones can be cleaned in the dishwasher.

Dishes being washed inside a dishwasher Dishes being washed inside a dishwasher

What items are dishwasher safe?

Tableware made of hard plastic, stainless steel, glass or ceramic is generally dishwasher safe. Many drinking glasses, baking dishes, metal utensils and items made of silicone can also be dishwasher safe. Always consult the care symbols on your tableware before running them through a wash cycle.

What does “top rack only” mean?

When a dishwasher safe symbol includes the words “top rack only,” it means that the item should only be placed on the top rack of the dishwasher during the wash cycle. Placing the item on the top rack helps to keep distance between heat-sensitive items and the dishwasher’s heated dry element.

Person placing soiled food containers in a dishwasher Person placing soiled food containers in a dishwasher

What is the symbol for dishwasher safe?

Most dishes have a symbol that indicates whether it’s safe to put in the dishwasher. There is no universal dishwasher safe symbol, instead there are several symbols that can indicate that an item is safe to wash in the dishwasher. Some even provide recommended rack placement and drying instructions.

Dishwasher safe icons infographic Dishwasher safe icons infographic

Dishwasher safe symbols

Explore the table below to learn more about dishwasher safe symbols commonly found on tableware items. Always check the owner’s manual of your dishwasher before washing a load.

Wine glass with water droplet icon

Dishes with a symbol that illustrates water droplets next to a wine glass positioned upright or upside down can be placed in the dishwasher.

Two plates being rinsed icon

This symbol includes a large dish next to a small dish below diagonal lines representing the ability to wash in a dishwasher wash cycle.

Plate with water droplet icon

If you see a symbol on your tableware that includes one plate next to a large water droplet, you can clean it using a dishwasher.

Dishwasher safe on top rack only icon

If you see 1–2 plates being washed in a dishwasher above the written instruction to wash on the top rack then it is dishwasher safe. Some dishware materials shouldn’t be exposed to high temperatures, so placing them on the top rack distances the dishes from the dishwasher heated dry element.

What items should not go in the dishwasher?

Certain items should generally not be washed in a dishwasher, like hand-painted china, thin plastic, cast iron pots and pans, delicate glassware and knives. These items may become damaged or warped by a wash cycle.

Additionally, non-stick cookware made from copper or other metals may lose their coating when exposed to hot water. Wood items can become discolored and silver may tarnish when washed in the dishwasher.

Person loading dishes into a dishwasher top rack Person loading dishes into a dishwasher top rack

Other Tableware Symbols

There are other symbols on your dishes that can be used to determine how best to care for them. Read on below to discover additional common tableware symbols to help keep your dishes looking their best.

Microwave safe icon

1. Microwaveable

Certain dishware materials should never be placed in a microwave as they are not compatible with the electromagnetic energy used to heat food using the appliance. Like with the dishwasher safe symbol, there are a handful of icons that can indicate whether you can place tableware in the microwave. 


If your dishes have a symbol that features 3–4 wavy lines, a microwave icon, a dish with wavy lines above it or three wave lines above the word “micro,” you can use it to microwave food.

Wine glass and fork icon

2. Food storage

To determine whether a dish is intended for decorative or functional use, look for a symbol displaying a wine glass next to a fork. Dishes with this symbol can be used to serve food and beverages. Some items are made with material that isn’t suitable to come into contact with food, so always check for the food storage symbol before you use any tableware to eat or drink.

Coil icon

3. Induction compatible

Induction cooktops can only be used with compatible cookware as the heating method uses a copper coil to generate electromagnetic energy that is transferred directly to the cookware. You can use cookware on an induction cooktop if it is stamped with a coiled spring icon at the bottom of the item.

Min and max temps icon

4. Minimum and maximum temp

Before you use an item to store food in the freezer or bake a meal in the oven, check the bottom of the dish for a symbol that includes two temperatures. This indicates the highest and lowest temperatures a dish can withstand.

Recycling icon

5. Recycling

If you’re replacing any dishes, you may wonder whether they can be recycled and how to sort them. Check the bottom of your dish for an icon that depicts an arrow in the shape of a triangle with a number ranging from 01–07.

Snowflake icon

6. Freezer storage

Tableware that can withstand the temperatures of a freezer typically has a symbol including a single snowflake on the bottom of the item.

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