Can You Put Wood Handled Knives in The Dishwasher?

The typical automatic dishwasher found in the market today washes cutlery and dishware by spraying hot water, about 45 – 75 degrees Celsius (or 110 – 170 Fahrenheit) at dishes.

There is normally an option to choose lower temperatures for delicate dishware. Not everything in your kitchen can be washed by a dishwasher.

Most of the stainless steel kitchenware can go in the washer.

Some plastic items, however, need to be labeled as dishwasher friendly to be put in the dishwasher.

So, Can You Put Wood Handled Knives In The Dishwasher?

The short answer is No. There is a lot that goes on in the dishwasher that will ruin the handle of your knife to end up looking like the surface of your deck.

What Happens During a Typical Washing Cycle in A Dishwasher


  1. First of all, there is a lot of humidity and heat in there. You probably would have a nice time locked in a wet confined space with great temperatures; your knife won’t either.
  2. Secondly, there is some significant violence in the machine. There is a lot of mixing and turning to ensure that the dishware is sparkling clean.

Do you like being jostled around? But that’s what happens in the dishwasher, and wood-handled knives may not fare well in such conditions.

This sort of treatment is suitable for stainless steel and other metallic dishes, and a select group of plastics.


The moist and very hot environment in the dishwasher is enough to damage steel cutlery and even their plastic or wood handle.

Also, the turbulence in the machine tends to throw around the knife, knocking its other items, and the wall of the dishwasher.

This shoving is no joke – in one or two sessions, you could see the effects on the wooden handle.

Also, by the way, the brittle kind of such as those obtained from Cedar hardwood can be even worse. It may take just one wash to ruin your treasured knife.


Then there is the problem posed by the detergents.

Dishwashers can use harsh detergents at times. It only depends on what you wish to wash it with.

Most of the dishwashing detergents in the market come with Triclosan as the main active element.

Some ingredients change from one brand to the next. Triclosan is one of the harshest chemicals you could bring close to a wood.

If used inappropriately, the formulation that makes up Triclosan can inflict limited damage on cast iron, bronze, silver, pewter, gold leaf, and aluminum. It could be even worse on wood.

Some dishwashing detergents, however, can inflict considerable damage on items made from the aforementioned range of materials.

These detergents are the worst if you are thinking of wood.


A typical dishwashing detergent needs just one washing session to ruin the piece of wood on your knife for the rest of its lifespan.

So, you have two good reasons never to wash your wood-handled knife with a dishwasher:

1. Dishwasher Turbulence

The turbulence that occurs in the machine can cause scratches and many little dents on the wooden handle because the knife is constantly shoved around in the compartment.

In some extreme cases, such as if the turbulence is way higher than would expect, or because the type of hardwood used to make the handle isn’t the most durable and quality the maker could find, you don’t need the intervention of the detergent to ruin the knife, a shoves inside the machine will do the job.

2. Dishwasher Detergent

Most of the dishwashing detergents we sue today are harsh. If such detergents leave light marks on the handle, it can be long term damages including discolored and dry look like the look of the dry wood on your deck.

If you must use the dishwasher

You can do something to prevent the dishwasher from smothering the wood on your knife and any other delicate kitchenware you may have.

If you have no other option for washing your knives other than using the dishwasher, you can make a few adjustments to the dishwasher’s two main cleaning elements – the temperature and the detergent.

1. Adjusting the temperature

The ideal cleaning temperature used by dishwashers is between 120 degrees Celsius and 130 degrees Celsius.

You don’t need to wash your wood-handled knives at the highest temperature possible no matter how bug-infested you think it is.

With that said, it only makes sense that you reduce the temperature to about 120 degrees Celsius.

Temperature alone cannot affect the wooden handle (wood can withstand great water temperature), it is only reduced so that it doesn’t end up as a cofactor with dishwasher detergent in the destruction of wooden parts.

How do you set a lower temperature? Use the hot water dial thermostat.

If you notice that the produced doesn’t match your settings, whether it’s too high or too low, drop a glass in the sink and run the water produced by the dishwasher then dip a thermometer in there.

If you read anything out of the 120 – 130-degree Celsius range, go back to the dial thermostat and readjust the temperatures and until you get to the lowest point you need.

2. Choosing the least harsh detergent available

The kind of dishwashing detergent you choose to use can have a profound impact on the results. If you want to protect your knife from damage, consider opting for less harsh detergents.

You can use gentler non-toxic detergents such as some of the products from Cascade:

Gentle dishwashing detergents are designed to work on a range of some delicate surfaces and still deliver the sparkle you deserve.

3. Reducing the turbulence

As aforementioned, the culprits for damages inflicted on wood and plastic items put in the dishwasher are the turbulence, high temperatures, and the effect of harsh detergents.

Once you have bought a gentle dishwashing detergent and worked on temperature adjustments, the next area you should get right is reducing the amount of turbulence produced by the dishwasher.

The best way to cut on turbulence is by taking advantage of washing modes that shove your dishware around. Virtually every dishwasher sold today comes with these buttons:

  • Heat Dry
  • Air Dry
  • Rinse and Hold
  • Hi-Temp Wash
  • Quick Clean
  • Sani-Rinse/Saniwash/Sanitize
  • Control Lock
  • Delay-Start/Overnight.

Each of these buttons sets the dishwasher in a specific mode suitable to perform specific tasks more quickly.

Here are some of the controls that you can use reduce the level of turbulence when cleaning wood-handled knives:


This is the best mode to use for washing wood-handled knives.

With a gentle detergent, you can protect your knife from ruin by selecting this mode and heating the compartment to the lowest temperature possible to kill germs (normally around 68.3 degrees Celsius or 155 degrees Fahrenheit).

Quick Clean

This mode enables just a quickie wash for dishware that simply needs to be sanitized.

Use this mode to clean your wood-handled knives after chopping some steak or anything that would leave odors and leftovers on the blade.

The best thing about this mode is that your knife will be rushed through the cleaning mechanisms at an average temperature and not much turbulence.

Air dry

This mode too doesn’t involve great temperatures and turbulence. Use this automated drying mode to clean wet wood-handled knives that you feel need to be clean for a new chopping assignment. Another advantage of this mode is that it will cut your energy consumption by between 15% and 50%.

These modes can be a hit or miss depending on the type of dishwasher in your kitchen. However, when they hit, the results are always perfect.

Conversely, some modes may ruin your wood-handled knife even further than what the detergent and turbulence could inflict.

Avoid these modes at costs when washing items with wooden parts and delicate plastics.

Hi-Temp wash

This mode adjusts the dishwasher to clean your dishware at the highest temperature possible.

Heat Dry

This mode too utilizes great heat and turbulence.

Rinse and Hold

This mode runs the dishwasher only when it is full. This means there will be more turbulence to wash all the items perfectly

In a nutshell

It is inadvisable to put your wood-handled knife in the dishwasher. Most of the time, it is the turbulence that occurs during the washing cycle and the harsh detergents that damages the wood and plastic dishware.

The typical automatic dishwasher found in the market today washes cutlery and dishware by spraying hot water, about 45 – 75 degrees Celsius (or 110 – 170 Fahrenheit) at dishes.

However, there is normally an option to choose lower temperatures for delicate dishware. Dishwashers can use harsh detergents at times.

It only depends on what you wish to wash it with. Most of the dishwashing detergents in the market come with Triclosan as the main active element.

This ingredient is known to be destructive to some plastics and wood.

If you must use the dishwasher, consider opting for gentle detergents and washing at lower temperatures. You can also switch to friendly operating modes.