How can I reuse or recycle broken dishwashers?

DishwasherWe’ve had an email from Matt, saying:

My parents turned there old dishwashers into compost bins. Dad cut the back out and the hinged door becomes the lid. Sure, it’s a bit ugly but in the garden you hardly notice it – you could paint it – but either way, it’s better than becoming landfill.

It certainly is. And most dishwashers I’ve met have had quite insulated shells so would keep the heat trapped inside and keep things composting along nicely.

Any other suggestions about things to do with broken old ones?

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21 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle broken dishwashers?”

  1. Delusion says:

    Use it for storage in the garage or shed. Take out all the racks (unless you can use these with what you’re storing) and just keep things in it. You also have the every “workspace” with its flat top

  2. I just wanted to leave a message here. Your site is fabulous. My year-long project is to change my little corner of the world one day, one project-at a time. This month I’m focusing on water. More than likely, I’ll focus on recycling one month too. The tips you have here are so good, and most are things I’d never given a second thought. I mean, I know I should re-use things, but some things are so random and it seems impossible to find another use for them. Your suggestions have shown me that my assumptions are false. Thanks for the enlightenment! I’ll be back! ~Karen

  3. Dan says:

    In certain major cities they have started a recycling program for home appliances. But I believe (depends on the city I think) you may have to call vs just putting a used appliance out to the curb on garbage day.

    In the house we purchased last summer and are renovating it had all the 20 year old appliances which we were not going to use as we were bringing most of our own appliances from our previous house. So, we called a friend who was getting married and moving into their first home. They were thrilled! Another case of recycling!

  4. Kami says:


    I’d like to re-use our dishwasher as a planter for food/herbs. Do you know of any hazard associated with this? Like chemicals contaminating the soil or something? Also, any ideas on how to paint it, disguise it in the garden?


  5. Lorrie says:

    I actually, came upon your website, as I was doing my own online search for ideas of what to do with broken dishwashers… still having a tough time finding anything concrete…. but, I had an idea about turning it into a safe. But, I just don’t know how….

  6. Gulia says:

    Leave it where it is to store dishes. Start washing dishes by hand. Saves electricity.

    • Nick says:

      But uses more water/gas to heat the water…

    • Gwyn says:

      The new dishwashers only use approx. 6 gallons of water – when rinsing dishes in the sink, each full minute the water is running out of the faucet, you are using one gallon of water. So if you wash dishes for 20 minutes, you are using 12-20 gallons of water washing and rinsing, the lower end if you turn off the water in between rinsing.
      I used mine for a dish rack for a long time when it broke, but it can’t be cleaned out easily and it stinks after a bit with mold from the dripping dishes. It got all yellow inside and it immediately becomes just something in which bugs could hide.

  7. E says:

    You should be able to recycle old appliances through the WEEE scheme in the UK and probably the EU as it is an EU scheme. Just take them to your nearest dump/recycle point or contact the council to find out if they can tell you where this is/pick stuff up. Many charity shops are also involved in this scheme.

  8. Ruti says:

    The local rag and bone man would collect these and re-cycle for you.

  9. I came across your website as well for alternative uses for a broken dishwasher. My DW, a Bosch like in your photo, is 5 yrs old and thanks to an as$hole repairman from Sears, who has to keep coming back and fixing his shoddy repairs, I have decided to ditch it altogether and wash them by hand. Much more control. My only problem is I hate to waste so much water by washing them. However, a gray water system takes up too much room for my small house and I would have to retro fit everything. So, I plan on putting my garbage can in the space since it has been in the way and I am looking for uses for the dishwasher itself. I have a composter outside already for my garden. I wonder about other uses. The herb garden idea sounds good. Storage is also an option but not what I am looking for. I would love to see more uses for old appliances. Well, keep up the good work and what Sears goes bankrupt blame the crappy customer service dept.
    Anyone who has a good idea for this Bosch, let me know.

  10. paula savage says:

    I thought a dishwasher could be used as a esky bin or chilly bin for putting ice and cold drinks in at a party or camping up the beach due to the insulated sides. I also used mine for storing dishes after it packed it in.

  11. Mary Chilcoat says:

    I’ve heard of people burying old chest freezers to use as potato/apple/etc. storage in the winter. I’m thinking a dishwasher buried on it’s back to serve the same purpose.

  12. Gwyn says:

    This must be in the U.K. – we can’t store food outside in Florida.

  13. Nolynn Reese says:

    How bout a chicken incubator ive seen one done on yutube it works quite well and if your really into figuring stuff out you can rig up the heating element to a timer and keep them warm on youtube they just cut some holes and added heatinf lights i thought this was a cool idea and wanted to share

  14. Snerdguy says:

    If your dishwasher is worn out but not rusted through, take the motor and pump off if it is metal and recycle those. As long as tub and door seal are good, it makes a relatively air tight place to store things if you close off the water lines and drain line. You can use it in an attic or unheated place to keep things clean and dry. If you want to store papers in it, you might want to add a desiccant to prevent mildew. But, as long as everything you put in it is dry, it should stay that way.

  15. Quint says:

    You can dismantle them and sell the working parts online, namely the motor, heating element, and the circuit board underneath the buttons. If you’re an electronics hobbyist, you can usually get a couple micro switches from the door lever, desolder a few relays, resistors and capacitors from the circuit board. If you have a stainless steel door you can remove the stainless steel to make electronics casings and other stuff which won’t rust. Could also maybe use the plastic sides for cases and stuff. The plastic she’ll that makes up most of it is definitely the hardest thing to reuse. I never thought of composers or plates before, but it’d have to make a wooden box around it if I made one into something that goes in my garden. I find it quite ugly.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Use it to store plastic bowls, jugs lids. My racks fold flat which is handy and I removed bits from bottom and laid old towel on bottom. Made great storage and freed cupboard space. It is still in kitchen— cheaper than putting in another cupboard in space!!

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