Can You Put Hot Wheels in the Dishwasher? (Best Ways To Clean Them)

Hot Wheels are a popular toy around the world for kids to play with. They can also be a collectors’ item for casual and serious hobbyists alike.

Hot Wheels are small toy cars, similar to Matchbox cars, that are typically made of plastic and metal.

As a popular kids’ toy, it’s probably expected that they will get pretty dirty fairly often. So, many parents wonder what is the best way to clean their kids’ Hot Wheels toys?

The most convenient way to clean the toys may be to put them in the dishwasher, but are Hot Wheels dishwasher safe?

Hot Wheels can technically be put in the dishwasher, but the heat may cause some damage to both the cars and your dishwasher if you’re not careful. Since most modern Hot Wheels are made of some plastic it’s likely that it will warp from the heat of the water inside the dishwasher. 

If you have some Hot Wheels cars that are incredibly dirty you are much better off letting them soak in warm soapy water and then scrubbing any hard dirt off rather than using the dishwasher. 

Before you ever start deep cleaning your Hot Wheels it’s important for you to know exactly what they are made of. This way you can be sure you won’t damage them or anything else in your homes 

What are Hot Wheels Made of?

In order to know the best ways to clean Hot Wheels cars, it’s important to know what they are made out of. The toys are durable but cleaning them can cause more harm than good if you don’t take the materials that Hot Wheels are made of into account.

Hot Wheels cars are die-cast toy cars, very similar to the classic matchbox toy car. They are made of a mixture of metal and plastic. The metal is a mix of zinc and aluminum, which can rust if it’s not taken care of. 

The die-cast material refers to the process of manufacturing with molten metal that has been around since the early 1900s.

The metal makes the cars very durable and highly functional as well. They run on their own tracks and are designed to last for many years.

The interior of the cars is made from plastic, which is used to give the interior a high level of detail. This is a relatively new design, and many vintage Hot Wheels won’t have any interior design at all.

What Happens if You Put Hot Wheels in the Dishwasher?

Dishwashers are a great tool for cleaning tough stains and dirt very thoroughly. However, the intense clean can be damaging to certain materials.

Dishwashers use high temperatures, high water pressure, as well as highly concentrated soaps to scrub dirt and grease off of dishes. However, this level of heat and pressure can be harmful to your small toy cars. .

The intricate axels of the cars’ wheels can easily be damaged by the hard water pressure. Hot and high-pressure water can also do serious damage to the paint used on Hot Wheels cars. 

This is especially true if they are cleaned in the dishwasher repeatedly as the paint can chip and peel over time.

The other major risk is not to the Hot Wheels, but rather to your dishwasher. If the Hot Wheels are loose in the dishwasher, they can get moved around violently during the wash cycle.

Not only can this cause cracks and other damage to any dishes you have in the dishwasher at the same time, but it can also damage the drainage systems in the dishwasher.

The cars are small enough to be moved around by the water, but the metal construction makes them just heavy enough to be a damaging projectile.

If you have a silverware cage for small items, then you can use it to contain the cars safely. However, regularly cleaning Hot Wheels in the dishwasher is probably not worth the risk, both to the toys and to your appliance. 

How to Clean Hot Wheels Safely

A dishwasher can be used as a last resort or emergency cleaning tool for Hot Wheels cars, but it shouldn’t be used regularly.

Depending on how dirty the car is, there are a few different methods you can try to clean the toys before resorting to using a dishwasher.

Cleaning Dust and Dirt

Loose dust and dirt are the easiest materials to get rid of on Hot Wheels cars. There are a few options when it comes to cleaning them.

The safest way to clean Hot Wheels with the least chance of causing damage is to use a can of compressed air. The air will blow loose dust and dirt away without damaging the metal or the paint.

For slightly tougher bits of dirt, there are a couple of other options. You can use a soft toothbrush or paint brush to loosen and remove some of the dirt, especially the pieces that are stuck in tight corners.

To finish cleaning, give the car a final wipe with a soft microfiber cloth. This will clear off any last remaining dirt or dust.

Cleaning Sticky Substances

Sticky substances like sticker residue is a bit trickier to remove from Hot Wheels vehicles. If you’re not particularly concerned with the car lasting for years without changing, you can use a bucket of soap water and a gentle sponge.

This can damage the exterior, especially if it’s left wet afterwards. However, if you immediately dry the car after cleaning it , and are careful to scrub it gently, it shouldn’t be too damaging.

If you have rare or older cars, it’s best to avoid any and all water if possible. If you’re trying to get rid of a sticker on an older car, you’ll want to use a sticker remover. 

These can be purchased at just about any local store.

Preventing Damage

The best way to prevent damage to Hot Wheels is to make sure they never get dirty enough that you need to use water to clean them.

Hot wheels should be stored in a dry environment and shouldn’t be used near water or grease. 

Simply bringing them back inside after playing with them instead of leaving them out in the elements can help to prevent the need for major cleaning. 


Hot Wheels cars are prone to getting pretty dirty, just like any other toy designed to be used by young children.

Putting the small cars in the dishwasher can be an easy way to clean them very thoroughly. However, it does come with the risk of damaging the car, especially if it’s something you do regularly.

Hot Wheels can also damage the internal mechanics of a dishwasher, so overall using a dishwasher to clean Hot Wheels is probably not worth the risk.

There are, however, better ways to clean Hot Wheels cars without a dishwasher that have a much lower risk of causing any damage to the paint or car too. 

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