While the Justice Department wrestles with the question of whether to put Austria's President-elect Kurt Waldheim on its "watch list" of suspected war criminals, the prospects are slim, indeed, that the Reagan White House will ever invite him to make a state visit.

Being "watch-listed" means Waldheim could not enter the United States as a private citizen. But after he's sworn into office on July 8 he won't have that status again until 1992, when his term of office ends. Meanwhile, as a chief of state he will enjoy diplomatic immunity.

An Austrian Embassy spokesman noted blandly yesterday that he knew of "no immediate plans" for a visit by Waldheim after he takes office, particularly since "it took 200 years to get an invitation for an Austrian president to make a first state visit." Outgoing President Rudolf Kirchschlaeger was here as President Reagan's state guest in February 1984.

Right now it's the June 24 visit by Austria's chancellor that Austrian Ambassador Thomas Klestil has returned to Vienna to help arrange. Until yesterday, it was Chancellor Fred Sinowatz who was scheduled to meet with President Reagan. But Sinowatz, head of the Socialist Party, resigned after the victory of Waldheim and the conservative People's Party, and now it's Franz Vranitzky, 40, the former finance minister, who has succeeded Sinowatz.

Prominent in international banking circles, Vranitzky will be guest of honor at a June 26 dinner in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art given by U.S. Ambassador to Austria Ronald S. Lauder. The dinner will signal the opening of "Vienna 1900," an exhibition of Austrian paintings, handcrafts, furniture and other art objects, some of which have been lent by the Lauder family.

Barbara Bush says she washes her hair every day because "white hair shows a lot of dirt."

In the July issue of Ladies' Home Journal, Bush is quoted as saying she colored her hair for 10 years, until 1970, but instead of a "warm brown . . . it came out any color it wanted. I spent my life in the beauty parlor."

When she finally decided that it was "ridiculous," she stopped and then realized Vice President George Bush "didn't care."

"He didn't say anything when it went white. Didn't even notice. But the truth is," she says, "I wish I hadn't let my hair go white. It makes me look older than George."

She is a year younger than her husband, who celebrates his 62nd birthday June 12.

Nancy Reagan presides over White House ceremonies today in which six American families will be honored for their work to strengthen family ties and the communities in which they live.

The six families are those of Stanley F. Hoisington of Fort Campbell, Ky.; Mildred Morris of Asheville, N.C.; Richard W. Stevens of Arlington, Tex.; William T. Sweeney of Subic Bay, Philippines; Bernard Veldman of Mishawaka, Ind.; and Jason Weiner of Orlando, Fla.

NBC-TV weatherman Willard Scott will introduce the families, who were chosen by a seven-member panel of judges that included Art Linkletter and Mary Lou Retton.

Sponsoring organizations are the American Family Society, Armed Services-YMCA, Family Services America, General Federation of Women's Clubs, Knights of Columbus, National Association of Life Underwriters and the National Extension Homemakers Council Inc.

A Chautauqua-style town meeting on public policy issues opens for a four-day run in the Soviet Union this September about the same time that a Soviet rock group opens a 12-city tour of the United States.

In addition, 12 children each from the United States and Soviet Union will team up for a joint U.S.-Soviet staging of the British musical "Peace Child," to be performed in both countries from August through October. The rock tour and the musical are sponsored by the Peace Child Foundation, based in Fairfax.

Yesterday's announcements about all three events signaled plenty of activity on the unofficial levels of U.S.-Soviet relations. The Chautauqua session will be unusual, since its ground rules call for open press coverage, no prior censorship and a commitment by the Soviets to air as much of the conference as possible on Soviet television.

That's the nuts and bolts of the announcement made yesterday at the National Press Club by John Wallach, an editor for Hearst newspapers who spearheaded arrangements for the Chautauqua meeting. With him was the Soviet Embassy's minister-counselor Oleg Sokolov, who described the town-hall-type format as "particularly unique."

The get-together will be similar to last year's Chautauqua Institution's town meeting in Upstate New York, which also featured American and Soviet officials.

USIA Director Charles Wick, who will not be a Chautauqua participant, said the event, expected to draw about 200 American officials from the State Department, Pentagon and White House, is "precisely what President Reagan had in mind" when he pushed for U.S.-Soviet cultural exchanges.

Others at yesterday's session were Mark Palmer, deputy assistant secretary of state, and Robert McFarlane, former White House national security affairs adviser. Leading the U.S. delegation will be John Matlock, President Reagan's senior adviser on Soviet affairs; Assistant Secretary of State Rozanne Ridgway; Assistant Defense Secretary Richard Perle; and Jeane Kirkpatrick, former ambassador to the United Nations.

Imelda Marcos' jewels made it into her suitcase when the Philippines' first couple left Washington after a 1982 state visit, of course, but not Ferdinand Marcos' two dialysis machines.

Shortly after moving into his official residence here this spring, Ambassador Emmanuel Pelaez tried unsuccessfully to open a closet. He called in a locksmith, who opened the door to discover the two machines complete with chemicals. They apparently had been used by the former Philippine president throughout his 15-day visit despite his repeated denials of being in poor health.

Pelaez, who is president of the Philippine Bible Society, asked the Seventh-day Adventists to check out the machines and recondition them so that they may be sent back to the Philippines. A group of New York doctors with roots in the Philippines has offered to pay freight costs.

Estimating their value at between $25,000 and $50,000, embassy spokesman Ben David said yesterday the machines will provide treatment in areas where there haven't been dialysis facilities.

"We're sending them to Mindanao and Cebu," said David, "where they'll be worth their weight in gold."