In the land of take-out containers, there are a lot of symbols. Some will mean that your food is safe to microwave, while others indicate that it's dishwasher safe. However, these two labels don't necessarily mean the same thing! If you're trying to figure out whether you should use your dishwasher or not, read on for all the details about what makes something safe for both methods of cleaning:
If you see the symbol that looks like a big M with an arrow pointing clockwise, this means the item is dishwasher safe. It's not necessary to put a microwave-safe dish in the microwave--you can just use it as usual.
If you see any other symbols on your containers (like a picture of a fork or spoon), they're not dishwasher safe and should be hand washed.
Some items are microwave/dishwasher safe, but not both! Make sure you check the label before putting anything in either appliance.
For example, if you have some plastic storage containers that are labeled microwave safe but not dishwasher safe, then wash them by hand instead of putting them inside your dishwasher.
You'll find the symbol for microwave safe on the bottom of your container. It will typically be a circle with a line through it, although sometimes it's just a circle. If there is also a dot in the middle of your symbol, that means that item is also dishwasher safe.
The symbol is a circle with a diagonal line through it.
It's important to note that some dishwashers have a microwave oven built in, so there's no need to worry about whether your dishwasher is safe for microwaving food. However, if you're not sure whether your particular model has this feature, it's best to play it safe by avoiding putting anything in the microwave then running the dishwasher right afterwords—especially if you believe that using non-microwaveable containers could damage your machine.
What is 'microwave safe'?
The FDA has specific guidelines for what they consider to be "microwave safe." Specifically, they state that an item is safe if it can withstand the temperatures of a microwave oven and still maintain its integrity. This means that you can use your ceramic mug in the microwave without it exploding or melting (which would be bad). But just because something says "microwave safe" doesn't mean it's dishwasher-safe as well. Dishwashers operate at much higher temperatures than microwaves, so any item labeled "dishwasher safe" must also withstand those temperatures and still maintain its integrity. Some plastics are not rated for these high temps and will warp or become brittle when put through the dishwasher cycle—and this isn't just true for plastics! Most ceramics aren't designed with high-heat durability either; in fact, some ceramics are even more susceptible to warping from extreme heat than plastic!
If you're wondering whether your dishwasher is safe to use, check with the manufacturer first. It's also a good idea to make sure that there are no cracks or dents in your container before putting it through the wash cycle. The best way to ensure that your dishes stay safe? Use only those pieces marked as dishwasher-safe!