Q. I hate hand-washing dishes. Can I put plasticware in the dishwasher?

A. Yes. Just avoid selecting dishwasher cycles such as “sanitize” that use higher washing or drying temperatures. Heat can cause plastic to degrade, says Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., Consumer Reports’ director of safety and sustainability. And it can cause worrisome chemicals such BPA (bisphenol A) to leach from some types of plastic containers. Although most food-storage containers are no longer made with BPA, older plasticware may contain it. BPA has been linked to health issues including cardiovascular disease and an increased risk of breast and prostate cancers.

Containers may also have other chemicals such as plasticizers and phthalates that can leach. Most dishwasher manufacturers recommend placing plastics and other delicate items on the top rack. And here’s some good news: Using a dishwasher instead of hand-washing can significantly reduce your water and energy consumption. 

For more information check our Dishwasher Buying Guide.

Send your questions to ConsumerReports.org/askourexperts.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the February 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.