Can I put plastic in the dishwasher?

Find out what types of plastic can go in the dishwasher, whether BPA-free plastic is safe, and how to wash your plastic items without damaging them.

Can I put plastic in the dishwasher?

Plastic comes in all shapes and sizes and is found everywhere in our kitchens. There’s the tough, durable kind that lunchboxes and knife handles are made from; the soft pliable type, which you might use in a collapsible coffee cup; and the slim clear sort that’s often used for food containers or plastic bottles.   

But despite how commonplace the material is, whether you can put plastic in the dishwasher will be dependent on the type of plastic item you have.


Whether or not it’s safe to put your plastic items in the dishwasher will depend on the type of plastic it is.   

There are some plastic items that have been designed to withstand the heat and cleaning action of detergents in a dishwasher cycle - these products will generally be labelled as ‘dishwasher safe’. But, if you’re still unsure, here are some common types of plastic, and how suitable they are for dishwashing.  


If a plastic bottle or container has been marked as reusable, it should be safe to go in your dishwasher – under certain conditions. When washing these kinds of products, always put them on the top rack (far away from the heating component) and avoid using deep clean or sanitising cycles1.


Outdoor plates and cutlery, babies’ bottles, plastic chopping boards and acrylic glasses should all be made of dishwasher safe plastic, but again, certain precautions should be taken when washing. No matter how robust the plastic may be, high temperatures are likely to impact it.  


Disposable plastics (such as food containers and water bottles) are not dishwasher safe. Not only are they made from a type of plastic that is not designed to withstand heat, meaning they will warp and become unusable, they also often feature an ingredient (BPA, or BPA alternatives) that could be harmful to your health.


If a plastic is labelled as BPA-free it means it does not include the chemical ingredient bisphenol A (BPA), a compound that hardens plastic. Unfortunately, BPA has been found to affect the food and beverages that the container holds, and evidence suggests that it can be damaging to our health when consumed.  

The heat from your dishwasher could cause BPA to leach from the plastic containing it, so plastic with BPA should NOT go in the dishwasher2.  

Products labelled BPA-free should still be considered before using in the dishwasher, however. Some companies claim their products are BPA free, yet use similar compounds (such as BPS, BPF and BPAF) that may have similar health effects to BPA.3 As such, it’s best to check if the product is truly BPA free before putting it in the dishwasher.


All our Finish detergents are designed to work safely and effectively with items that are suitable for dishwashing.





Does it matter what detergent I use?

Your detergent needs to complement the cleansing action of your dishwasher. Automatic dishwashing detergent is specially formulated to disperse food residue and greasy soiling, hold it in suspension, and remove it in the final rinse. It does all this while producing little or no suds.

For best results use the detergent recommended by the manufacturer of your machine.

However, in very hard water areas we also recommend the use of separate Salt and Rinse aid to protect your machine and achieve the best result.

Do I need to pre-rinse my dishes before loading them into the dishwasher?

No need to! Pre-rinsing is a thing of the past. And although many British households do it, it’s time consuming and wasteful of precious resources.   

Modern detergents such as Finish Quantum Ultimate contain both bleach and enzymes and are recommended by dishwasher manufacturers for use without pre-rinsing.

Bleach fights tough stains like tea and coffee, and enzymes breakdown proteins and starches. All you have to do is scrape the larger pieces into the rubbish bin and load your dishwasher.

How do dishwasher tablets work?

Dishwasher tablets contain surfactants, which affect the liquid they are added to, making it more efficient at picking up and washing away debris. They also include enzymes (to break down starchy foods and protein), builders (to tackle hard water) and safe bleaches.

Once you’ve put your dishwasher tablet into the detergent dispenser compartment, your machine will release the contents at the optimal time allowing the tab to disintegrate into the water, release all ingredients and clean your dishes!

How should I store my dishwashing detergent?

Your dishwashing detergent should be stored in a dry environment. If you are using powder, be careful to close the spout after each use to help keep the product dry (and to avoid spills!). Like all cleaning products, store your detergent out of the reach of children.

Do I need to add salt and rinse aid?

Rinse aid is required to:

  • Ensure spot-free, shiny dishes
  • Assist the drying function

Salt is required to:

  • Protect your machine from limescale
  • Soften the water for better cleaning

With multi-benefit tablets such as Finish Quantum Ultimate and Finish All in One, rinse aid and salt functions are included. However, in very hard water areas we also recommend the use of separate Salt and Rinse aid products to protect your machine and achieve the best result.

How do I use dishwasher tablets?

Dishwasher tablets are very simple to use. If needed, remove any protective packaging, pop the tablet into your detergent dispensing compartment, close the compartment, turn on your washing machine and let technology and Finish handle the rest!

For detailed information on how to use Finish Tablets, read on below.

  1. With dry hands, remove the tablet from the container and place it in the detergent dispenser. Ensure both the dispenser and the tablet is dry to prevent it from dissolving prematurely.
  2. Close the tablets packaging lid tightly. Store away from heat and moisture to protect the remaining tablets.
  3. Our tablets are wrapper-free (with the exception of Finish Classic) and are designed to release their contents when they come into contact with water. Do not pierce or attempt to unwrap the tablets.
  4. Clip the detergent dispenser shut and close your dishwasher.
  5. Make sure all items are dishwasher safe and separate silver from stainless steel.
  6. Wash metal items according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  7. Run dishwasher. The optimal water temperature is 51° – 60°C.

For optimal results, it is recommended to also use Finish Rinse Aid for shinier and drier dishes (vs detergent alone).

Can you put dishwasher tablets in the bottom of the dishwasher?

Detergent tablets should always be placed in the detergent dispenser compartment.

If you’re placing the tablet at the bottom of the dishwasher it’s likely that it will dissolve too quickly, releasing the detergent during the prewash and leaving no detergent for the main wash cycle. This will reduce the efficiency of your wash.

Do I take the plastic off Finish dishwasher tablets?

Whether you need to remove the plastic from your dishwasher tablet depends on the product you have bought. As a good rule of thumb, if the tablet comes individually wrapped then yes, you should remove the plastic wrap before using. If, however, the tablet is encased in a skin of thin, transparent plastic, this should not be removed and will dissolve itself safely during the washing process.

Where do I put the dishwasher tablet?

Dishwasher tablets should only go in the dishwasher detergent compartment of your dishwasher, not loose in the dishwasher itself.

Item successfully added to basket

    Items in basket:
    View basket & checkout