Graphic: Shep McAllister
5 Neat ThingsJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast “[Ask a Clean Person](” Each week, she’ll round up five essential cleaning products, tools and organizational systems to help you live your tidiest lives.   

Welcome to the world of dishwasher inserts! The other day I got an email asking, “If an item says that it can be washed in the dishwasher but top rack only… how serious is that?”

It’s a great question actually! The answer is that usually ‘top rack only’ instructions are serious, because the heating element of most dishwashers is in the bottom, and plastic items can easily melt if they’re too close to that heat source. Of course, the problem is that most top racks aren’t designed with baskets to contain smaller items. But! You have me, and I know about dishwasher inserts, and I’m going to tell you about them so that you know too.

Prince Lionheart Complete Dishwasher Basket System

The Prince Lionheart Complete Dishwasher Basket System includes three baskets that are ostensibly designed for bottles and sippy cup parts, but can be easily used for other small kitchen items.
Graphic: Shep McAllister

Most small dishwasher baskets are marketed towards parents, like this set of three baskets (one round, two rectangular), which is designed to contain baby bottle parts and pacifiers that need to be washed in the top rack but that can easily slip through the slats in standard dishwasher racks. However! These baskets are designed to be versatile, and are great for holding sippy cup tops, so they can grow with your kiddos and also they’re not limited to use with kid stuff. If you have small items like plastic measuring spoons, wine pourers, glass charms, etc. that you’d like to wash in the dishwasher but that are too small to go in on their own, this set is the perfect thing for you.

OXO Tot Dishwasher Basket

OXO’s Tot Dishwasher Basket is long enough to hold lots of items, and is perfectly sized for reusable Keurig filters.
Photo: Amazon

This roomy OXO dishwasher basket is another one that’s intended to corral small items for kids so they don’t get lost in the bottom of the unit, but that can surely be used for non-kid needs. It has a flip up lid that can be used to secure narrow items like straws vertically, and the base is long enough that taller straws can be placed in flat along with screw-on lids and suchlike. One reviewer noted that it was also the perfect size to wash those reusable Keurig filters.

Boon Span Dishwasher Net

Boon Span’s Dishwasher Net solves the age-old problem of lightweight plastic items tipping over on the top rack and collecting nasty dish waster. Just stretch it across the top rack right before you run a load to keep everything in place.
Graphic: Shep McAllister

This thing is so cool: It’s a flexible silicone net that you can clip to a dishwasher rack in different formations, to hold smaller and/or lighter weight items in place. Often, lightweight things like small plastic bowls, plastic or silicone storage containers or plastic cups (including disposable ones!) will tip over in the dishwasher, leaving them filled with water — and therefore not fully rinsed — at the end of the machine’s cycle. This net will secure things in place so they stay upright even while being blasted with hot water.

Stemware Saver Dishwasher Attachment

The main reason you’re supposed to hand wash your wine glasses is that they can fall over in the dishwasher and break. Quirky’s Tethers fix that.
Photo: Amazon

You know what else falls over in the dishwasher? Wine glasses. Which is bad, because then they don’t get clean but also because tipping can lead to chipping, and I’m sorry about that bit of poetry but that was really the best way to say what needed to be said about the potential damage that can befall wine glasses in the dishwasher. But worry no more! These stemware holder attachments — four in the set! — slide over the prongs in the top rack and have a little arm of sorts that can be clipped around stems to hold wine glasses and champagne flutes securely in place.

Dr. Brown’s Silicone Dishwasher Bag

Designed to hold all of your small plastic kitchen gear on the top rack, Dr. Brown’s Silicone Dishwasher Bag is like a laundry bag for your dishwasher.
Photo: Amazon

You know how I’m always banging on about those mesh washing bags for use when machine laundering small items? This is like that but for the dishwasher! Now, that doesn’t mean I want you cleaning your favorite bikini in the dishwasher (please don’t do that, dishwashers run too hot, and some dishwasher detergents have bleaching agents in them), but this is a handy item to know about because it offers more flexibility than hard plastic basket inserts. It can be snapped together horizontally or vertically — this would be another great option for running long plastic water bottle straws through the dishwasher without them ending up stuck at the bottom of the unit! The other nice thing about this is that, because it’s silicone, it can withstand high heat in the event something you own needs to be sterilized in boiling water.