Your food processor can be one of your favorite kitchen appliances. Or it can be one of those items sitting unused and taking up valuable counter space by only looking fancy and doing nothing else for you. Whichever yours turns out to be will largely depend on how often you use it.
Food processor parts are, for the most part, dishwasher safe. The safest way to clean the blades and other accouterment is by hand washing them. Damage is unlikely from one or two runs through the dishwasher, but repeated cycles in the dishwasher can adversely affect the food processor’s parts.
Most manufacturers say their food processor parts are dishwasher safe, but “dishwasher safe” is not necessarily the same thing as “you should absolutely clean these parts in the dishwasher.” So let’s look at why that is.
Cleaning in the Dishwasher
There are pros and cons to cleaning your food processor parts in the dishwasher, even if the manufacturer specified yours as being dishwasher safe.
You should consider both the pros and cons before washing the parts of your food processor or purchasing a new one.
- Convenience. There’s no denying that being able to throw your food processor parts (or dirty dishes, for that matter) makes for quick, worry-free cleanup. Since most of us are quite busy all the time, the dishwasher is a vital piece of kitchen equipment, especially if you’re cooking for and feeding a large group. Since it has lots of interchangeable blades and slicers, you have the opportunity to dirty up a lot of pieces in one go.
- Heat kills germs. Most of us have reached into the just-finished-running dishwasher and came away with a mild burn on our fingers that just closed around a scalding piece of flatware. That’s no fun, but at least you know that the dishwasher killed off any germs lurking on the glass that your coughing and sneezing uncle was drinking from all night.
- You’re less likely to have issues with mold. Most dishwashers have a drying cycle option. So coupled with the heat of the washing cycle and the drier heat of the drying cycle, finding mold on your dishwasher-cleaned dishes and equipment is rarely an issue, even if you live in a humid climate.
- Time-consuming. You may tire of waiting on the dishwasher to finish running, which isn’t a quick process. Also, if you are concerned with economy, you may be one of those people who won’t run the dishwasher until it’s full. If you used your food processor while preparing a dinner for two, your dishwasher might not be full at the end of that meal’s cleanup, meaning your food processor parts will not be getting cleaned that night.
- Pre-rinsing is a must. With almost any dishwasher (no matter what the commercials for your dishwashing detergent say), you have to pre-rinse whatever goes in there. Your food processor parts are no exception, especially since leaving those parts unrinsed will result in food bits sticking to them. Then the heat of the dishwasher might end up baking those bits onto the parts rather than getting those parts clean.
- Heat is hot. While the heat of the dishwasher is a pro, it also heats your kitchen and adds humidity, as well. I grew up in Houston, where even the slightest increase in humidity raises your physical discomfort exponentially. If we could get away with not running the dishwasher on an August night, we didn’t.
- Damage from harsh soaps is possible. When you hand wash, the dish soap you use is (at least some of it) gentle enough to clean birds with when they get oil on them. No one will ever clean dirty animals with dishwashing detergent because it’s harsh. In other words, these products can damage your food processor parts over time.
You must also be aware that all of your dishwasher-safe food processor parts are only top-rack safe, with very few exceptions.
That’s because the heat of the lower rack can warp or melt your bowl. That same bottom-rack heat can damage your blades over time, as well.
The pros and cons of handwashing your food processor parts constitute a list of their own and must be considered when you’re deciding what to do with your food processor’s parts after you’ve used them.
- Attention to detail is possible. When you throw stuff in the dishwasher, it all gets treated the same by the soap and blasting water. If you’re handwashing your food processor parts (or anything, really), you can pay particular attention to this nook or that cranny, and food processors and their parts have lots of these.
- Gentle soap will be kind to your food processor parts. Dish soap, as mentioned above, is not nearly as harsh as detergent for your dishwasher. Hand washing your things presents much less chance of stains (even hard-water ones) on your food processor parts, and there’s much less chance of the cleaning process dulling your blades.
- Much faster than the dishwasher. Especially if all you’re cleaning is your food processor, hand washing won’t take nearly as long as even the shortest dishwasher cycle. Less time cleaning means more time for other kitchen tasks or even stuff unrelated to kitchen anything.
- Inconvenience. If handwashing is a chore you don’t enjoy, it may make you find excuses to avoid using your food processor. If the inconvenience of cleaning up afterward outweighs the convenience of the food processor in food preparation, you may decide that it’s not worth it.
- The danger of cuts. It’s no surprise that food processors cut stuff. Their metal blades are sharp, and if you’re handling them in the sink, there’s a real possibility of cutting yourself on them. Life-threatening injury is unlikely, but blood is blood, and blood in the kitchen isn’t exactly appetizing.
- Extra cleaning tools may be necessary. You may need to invest in additional supplies for handwashing your food processor and its parts. You can’t use an abrasive sponge, as it can easily scratch the blades, which can dull them or mar the bowl, leaving it with a cloudy appearance. You’ll want an OXO Brush for your blades, and for your bowl, look into something like the Scrub-It Sponge.
If you’re dishwashing your food processor parts, there are two easy steps: rinse, then stick in the dishwasher.
Handwashing may be a quicker process than running a whole dishwasher cycle, but there are things you should know in order to do it correctly.
It may go without saying, but it’s best to use warm, soapy water for the entire cleaning process. When you’re cleaning the blades, experts suggest working from the center of the blade assembly outward, as this decreases the chances of you cutting yourself.
Even if you’re using the dishwasher, you need to have this information, as you must be sure any stuck-on foods are removed before putting the blades in the dishwasher. Use non-abrasive soap, brushes, and sponges.
The Bowl and Its Lid
While it may seem obvious to fill the bowl with soapy water and scrub it out, this will work. But you’ll have more success getting the bottom of the bowl completely clean if you run your food processor with some soapy water in the bowl.
Just like the unit slung pieces of food around the bowl when you were chopping nuts, it’ll do the same with water and dislodge any impacted materials.
After that, you may need to scrub the lid (you didn’t forget to put the lid on your food processor while you ran it with soapy water in it, right?) with a non-abrasive sponge.
After all this handwashing, be sure to dry everything as completely as possible — use a hand towel, and then let everything air-dry, as well.
Occasionally, you may notice that your bowl has become discolored (beets, anyone?) or has developed an odor. Simple handwashing with soapy water will not suffice in these cases.
Instead, mix water and baking soda in a one-to-one solution and soak the bowl in it for at least ten minutes. After that, handwash it like you normally would, and all should be right with the world.
Some food processors’ instructions expressly forbid dishwasher use, but most units are rated as dishwasher safe, which ends up being a relative designation.
Most food processor parts are dishwasher safe, and while using the dishwasher is your preferred method of post-prep cleanup, it’s not always the best solution.
No matter how you clean your food processor and its parts, be sure to get all the food particles off and thoroughly dry everything when you finish.
Whether dishwashing or handwashing, if you take care of your food processor and its parts, it should serve you well for a long time.