Can Scissors Go In The Dishwasher? (Checked)

While your dishwasher might be your favorite appliance, it is not meant for washing scissors.

If you want to keep your scissors in top shape and rust-free, avoid putting them in the dishwasher or washing them with soap and water.

Here’s Why Scissors Shouldn’t Go In The Dishwasher:

Scissors shouldn’t go in the dishwasher because they can accelerate the rusting of the blades. When the blades are exposed to air and water, they can begin to rust. Plus, dishwasher detergent can break down the protective layer of chromium oxide on your blade, causing it to rust even more quickly.

Does Putting Scissors in the Dishwasher Rust Them?

Putting scissors in the dishwasher certainly has the potential to rust them.

Between the harsh detergent and the prolonged exposure to moisture, your scissors will be exposed to all the necessary ingredients to begin the rusting process.

Rust can occur with any metal that contains iron, including stainless steel. Most scissors will have some degree of protection from rust because of the chromium present in the steel blades.

When chromium mixes with air, it creates a layer of chromium oxide on the blade. 

When left undisturbed, chromium oxide is very effective at preventing rust. However, if you wash your stainless steel scissors in the dishwasher, the harsh chemical detergents commonly used have the power to break down the layer of chromium oxide. This effectively strips away the rust protection from your scissors.

With the protective layer damaged, your scissors are even more vulnerable as they are exposed to excessive moisture in the dishwasher.

This combination means your scissors are even more likely than ever to begin rusting. If you have run your scissors through the dishwasher in the past, you will want to do your best to keep them from rusting in their more delicate state. 

To do this, keep your scissors away from any source of moisture. If they get wet, make sure to dry them thoroughly before storing them.

If you do notice any spots of rust on the blades, you will want to remove them as soon as possible. 

Removing rust can be done easily at home. To remove new rust spots, you can use distilled white vinegar or a rust eraser. 

Do You Need to Wash Your Scissors?

Even if you are careful to use your fabric scissors on fabric, they can still benefit from regular cleaning and care. 

Fabrics are usually treated with different manufacturers’ chemicals to give them the right feel and finish. From starches to dyes to softeners, each fabric has a unique combination of chemicals to give it the perfect final look and feel.

Every time your scissors cut, they contact these different chemical combinations on your fabric. Establishing a routine of cleaning your scissors will help with their longevity and performance. 

Your fabric also might have come into contact without something by accident. If you spilled something on your fabric, it might have a sticky residue that could transfer to your scissors when cutting.

If your scissors have been exposed to something unsanitary, you might be tempted to throw them in the dishwasher. Resist this urge and keep reading to find out how you can safely wash your scissors at home. 

How Can You Safely Wash Your Scissors?

There are other great ways to clean your scissors safely.

Here are a few:

Cotton Cloth:

If you want to perform routine maintenance on your fabric scissors, you can take a dry cotton cloth and wipe down the blades.

As you wipe, your cotton cloth will likely get dirty as it removes dye and other chemical residues accumulating on the blades. 

Be sure to wipe around the screw area, where the metal blades are rubbing against each other. This metal-on-metal contact will create a residue that the cloth can clean.

Old Toothbrush & Sewing Machine Oil:

You can also use an old, dry toothbrush to help you clean around this area. 

Sewing machine oil is also an effective option for cleaning your metal blades. This highly-refined clear oil will work smoothly without creating any sticky residue.

To use sewing machine oil to wash your blades, lay your scissors on a cloth. Apply some oil to the blades and spread it over the metal surface carefully with your fingers or a cloth.

You can use the old toothbrush to help get the oil into all the hard-to-reach spots you would like to clean. 

If the handle is made of metal instead of plastic, you can spread the oil to the handle. Once you have worked the oil into all the areas you want to clean, you can begin wiping away the dirt, grime, and excess oil with a clean cloth.

Keep wiping until they no longer feel greasy or slippery. 

Adhesive Remover:

If you have been cutting through tape or other sticky materials, you might have a sticky buildup on your blades. If the sewing machine oil didn’t get all the residue off, you could use a specialty adhesive remover from your local hardware store.

Safely using paint thinner can also work, especially if the gunk is hard to remove. 

If you are worried about disinfecting your scissors, you might want to try a small amount of rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer lightly wiped over the blades.

If you choose this method, make sure you dry the blades completely with a cloth after. 

Soap and Water:

If you have scissors with a plastic handle, you might notice the handle is getting visibly dirty. Dyes from the fabric can rub off on your handle.

If you have a lighter plastic handle, any dark fabric can leave visible dye residue on the handle.

If you have a plastic handle, you can very carefully use soap and water on this area. However, you only want to get the plastic handles wet, never the blades.

Plastic won’t rust, so there is no danger in using soap and water to clean them up. 

What Chemicals Can You Use on Scissors?

Always avoid soap and detergents on your scissor blades.

The detergent used in dishwashers, for example, is particularly aggressive and can negatively impact your scissors. Avoid soaps that might break down the protective chromium oxide in your blades.

As mentioned above, sewing machine oil is safe on your scissor blades. This oil is highly refined, clear in color, and will not turn sticky after application.

You will want to avoid using common oils you have around the house. Kitchen oils, like olive oil, can become sticky after they have been applied to scissors. 

Adhesive removers, WD-40, paint thinner, and rubbing alcohol are all chemicals you can use in moderation on your blades. Make sure to use each chemical safely and make sure you have removed the excess and allowed scissors to dry completely after use. 

You can safely use distilled white vinegar on your scissors to remove rust spots.

You can leave the blades of your scissors soaking in vinegar for 24 hours and wipe away the rust spots once the soaking is complete. 

How Often Should You Wash Your Scissors?

How often you wash your scissors will depend greatly on what you are using your scissors and how often you are using them.

Suppose you are dedicated to using your fabric scissors on fabric only. In that case, you can perform a thorough cleaning periodically or when you notice a buildup of dye on the blades or handle.

Once there is enough buildup or sticky residue to get your attention, it’s time to clean your scissors. 

You can also perform more regular maintenance by wiping your scissors down with a cloth after each day of use in your sewing room. This will keep waste fibers from your fabric from building up on your scissors. 

Remember, you should never wash your scissors in the dishwasher. In addition to the blade damage you can do, you might find yourself with a deformed handle if it is made from plastic.

Some plastics can release toxins when exposed to the dishwasher’s consistently high heat. 

Additionally, the nut and bolt that holds the two blades together might be made from a different metal that is even more prone to rust. If your blades make it through the dishwasher alive, it might be a very different story for the part that holds your blades together. 

Final Thoughts

If you want to protect your scissors from rusting, do not put them in the dishwasher.

Keep the blades away from soap and water and ensure they are always perfectly dry when stored. 

To wash your scissors safely, you can use sewing machine oil, adhesive removers, paint thinner, or rubbing alcohol in moderation. 


Let’s Learn to Sew: How to care for sewing scissors

Threads Monthly: How to Clean and Look After Fabric Scissors

Youtube: How to Clean Your Scissors