Learning to do your own laundry is a big part of growing up. Many of us made our fair share of mistakes such as, mixing whites and colors or accidentally shrinking our sweaters. Forgetting your wallet in your jeans is another common one (I’ve been there). When it comes to laundry, there are a lot of do’s and don’ts, and luckily, I’m here to help you out with that.
There are many items that you may have never known not to put in the washer. Some of these washing machine mistakes can ruin your clothes, and some can destroy the machine. On the bright side, there are some other things that you may have never known are 100% washing machine safe. You’ll never guess what can make your washing machine catch on fire! Check out what you can or can’t put in the washing machine. These are your laundry dos and don’ts.
Pillows – Do
We all know that we can put pillowcases in the washing machine, but did you know that you can just throw the whole pillow in there? It’s actually recommended that you wash your pillows in the washing machine twice a year. Just check the tag first, and if your pillow has a “dry clean only” label, then obviously don’t put it in.
Consumer Reports suggests washing them “two pillows at a time” to balance the load. This will also make sure that “water and detergent circulate more effectively.” For feather and down pillows, you should also use a little bit of powder detergent because the liquid will leave a residue. Polyester pillows can be washed using a tablespoon of liquid soap. Just make sure you wash on a gentle cycle using warm water.
Yoga Mats – Do
Cleaning your yoga mat may not be something you think about often, but it’s actually important. It’s extremely necessary for the same reason you clean your workout clothes – it’s full of sweat. In addition to all the sweat that it absorbs, your matt also gathers dirt from the floor. So when it comes to washing your yoga matt, you can just throw it in the wash.
This should be perfectly fine unless your yoga matt has a label specifically telling you not to put it in the washing machine. According to experts at Cleanpedia, you should use a mild detergent and then wash it on a delicate cycle in 30-degree water or cooler. So, don’t forget to keep your yoga mats clean.
Velcro – Do
For years, people have wondered if you can wash Velcro. Well, it turns out you can! Velcro won’t necessarily get ruined in water. So when it comes to sporting equipment, baby bibs, Velcro shoes, or any other Velcro necessities, you can just throw them in the washing machine. Just make sure that you are correctly washing them.
It is recommended that you should first use a still brush to clean debris out of the hook surfaces. Then, you can put it in the washer as long as the hook is covered. You can do this either by putting the item into a lingerie garment bag or to “engage the hook and loop.” Velcro manufacturers confirmed that Velcro is washing machine safe, as long as you follow these steps.
Silicone Kitchen Utensils – Do
Obviously, cooking items can get dirty easily. They get covered up will all food, grease, and all kinds of bacteria. But you don’t have to worry. According to cleaning expert, Elly Ray, your silicone kitchen utensils can be put in in the washing machine with no problems. In fact, she went on to say you can put them in “alongside kitchen towels and old clothes.”
She explained that you simply need to use a “long, high-tumble, and hot water to get rid of stubborn grease.” I don’t know. The last place I would think of putting dirty dishes is in the washing machine… especially with clothes. I’m no expert, but isn’t a dishwasher a washing machine for dishes? I guess this works better.
Sneakers – Do
Everyone loves a new fresh pair of sneakers, but they tend to get dirty after wearing them for a while. As it turns out, you don’t need to buy a new pair every few months. If you have perfectly good shoes that got dirty, you can throw them in the washing machine, and they will look like a brand new pair. That’s right. You don’t even need to hand dry.
To do this correctly, Elly Ray says, take out the insole inserts, and put them in the machine with cold water “with a regular amount of detergent and a tablespoon of vinegar.” She also suggests adding dirty clothes into the wash to help “maintain the balance.” This will also help reduce the loud banging noise that the shoes make while in the spin cycle.
Stuffed Animals – Do
Do you or your kids have any dirty stuffed animals? They can easily start smelling bad, and getting them clean can be such a pain. Well, I might have the perfect solution for you. Washing machines are a great way to get those dirty stuffed animals clean. To make sure they don’t get ruined, put the stuffed animal in a mesh laundry bag before setting the machine to wash and rinse.
Make sure to use cold water. Apparently, warm water can melt the toy’s glue away. It’s also recommended to use half the amount of detergent than you normally would. Then run the dolls through the rinse cycle again to remove all the soap and allow them to air dry. Fluff the fur as needed.
Backpacks – Do
Don’t be afraid to throw your kid’s backpack in the washing machine too. Well, make sure to take the textbooks out first – those are definitely not washing machine safe. According to The Spruce’s Mary Marlowe Leverette’s step-by-step cleaning guide, you should make sure to empty it out, and use your hands to clean off the straps, and soak it in heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent for 30 minutes.
Then you should put the backpack in an “old pillowcase or large mesh laundry bag” before throwing it in the wash. Make sure you use regular laundry detergent, warm water, and a gentle cycle. I can tell you from personal experience that this one works! My mom used to put my backpack in the washing machine all the time.
Small Toys – Do
Believe it or not, stuffed animals aren’t the only toy that you can put in the washing machine. Kids can get pretty dirty, and so can all their stuff. In addition to stuffed animals and backpacks, you can put small toys such as Lego pieces in the wash as well. According to Trine Jenson Burke, you just need a washing back for delicates.
So basically, you can put all the Legos (and/or other small toys) in one bag and just throw it in the washing machine. Just make sure that that it’s at low temperature. After the wash is finished, put them on a towel to dry off. Make sure they are “tilted to the side, so they don’t hold water.”
Car Mats – Do
You can use your washing machine to clean more than just household items. Your car’s floor mat can also be washed in there. Let’s be honest, when was the last time you cleaned those? A huge amount of dirt can accumulate just from people’s shoes. Next time your mats need a cleaning, you don’t need to go for a full car wash.
The more convenient option is to bring them inside and throw them in the washing machine. Abigail Blake reported that you could clean it using regular detergent and stain remover. However, it’s important to note that before you toss the mats in the washer, make sure to vacuum both sides. Blake recommends baking soda to help “remove stains and unpleasant odors.”
Makeup Sponges – Do
If you wear makeup, I don’t have to tell you how difficult it can be to get makeup sponges and brushes clean. It can be a huge pain. In 2015, an international survey revealed that 50% of the people who use makeup brushes clean them less them once a month (if they clean them at all). Well, what if I told you there was a simple way to get this daunting task done?
You guessed it, the washing machine. Celebrity makeup artist Kathy Jeung, told Glamour magazine, “I put my sponges and velour puffs in net lingerie bags and put them in the washing machine on the gentle cycle with an extra rinse cycle. Add some beauty blender cleaning solution and Mayers laundry detergent, and viola – thoroughly clean sponges.”
Baseball Caps – Do
People often worry that washing a baseball cap can make it lose its form. No one wants an awkward fitting shape cap, so many people avoid cleaning their favorite hats altogether. However, it requires washing, just like the rest of your clothes. And guess what, they are washing machine safe. Just make sure to wash it correctly.
Professional at an eco-friendly cleaning brand called Dropps, have reported that you should put it in with a very small load or even alone so that “it doesn’t lose its shape.” It needs to be washed with warm water, on a gentle cycle, with mild detergent. Don’t put it in the dryer though! Let it air dry. If you are that concerned about the hat’s shape, you can get a machine, washable hat holder.
Mop Heads – Do
Over time, mop heads keep getting dirtier and dirtier. This is pretty obvious considering they are used to wash all the filth off of your floor. When it gets too dirty, the disgusting black dirt will end up back on your floors. Since that defeats the purpose when you’re aiming for shiny floors, many people throw them out. But you can get a few more uses out of them.
A professional household cleaning service called, Maids by Trade, have confirmed that there is no harm in putting a removable mop head in the washing machine. That is actually the reason the mops are removable. Simply “add half a cup of bleach to the washing machine and wash the mop by itself on a normal cycle.”
Sports equipment – Do
If you’re into sports, you probably throw your sweaty sports clothes directly into the washing machine after wearing them. Unfortunately, many people neglect the rest of their sports gear, including knee pads, elbow pads, shoulder pads, shin guards, and gloves. These things are also filled with sweat and bacteria and should be washed at least once a month.
To wash these, it’s important to make sure to close all the Velcro so that it won’t stick or tangle on anything. Then put each of them in a washing bag before tossing them in the washing machine. You only need half the amount of detergent that you would normally use and make sure to wash on a gentle cycle. Your sports gear will be nice and fresh!
Dog Collars – Do
If you have a dog, you know how dirty and muddy they can get. Before you freak out, I’m not saying you should put your dog in the washing machine. But if their collar needs a good cleaning, they are usually washing machine safe (unless it says otherwise). At times, people can forget the importance of cleaning their dog’s collar.
Unfortunately, it can get extremely muddy and start to smell horrendous. The dog product company, Oscar and Hooch, suggest putting the collar in either a pillowcase or washing bag to protect the metal. This will also help avoid all that noise it can make while bouncing around in there. If you want your dog smelling fresh and looking clean, this is a perfect way to do it.
Oven Mitts – Do
This one pretty much makes sense. Since they are made with fabric just like clothes, it’s not surprising that oven mitts are washing machine safe. The question is whether or not you wash them. Most of the time, people keep their oven mitts in the kitchen and use them as needed. Washing them doesn’t normally come to mind, and if it does, it’s probably not nearly enough.
Oven mitts are dirty and covered in germs, especially since they are surrounded by food. They should be washed regularly to avoid bacteria. According to the instructions and restrictions on the label, you should put the oven mitt in separately. Just make sure to wash it on a cold and gentle cycle.
Plastic Shower Curtains – Do
Another thing you may forget needs cleaning are your shower curtains. The reason for this is that it gets wet constantly, so it feels clean. Unfortunately, water can have the opposite effect. Constant water and moisture can actually create mold. Plus, all the dirt from your body getting on there doesn’t help. If you want to avoid mildew stains (or get rid of the ones you have), here is a solution.
Putting shower curtains in the washing machine is necessary every once in a while. Use a regular amount of detergent and add ½ cup of baking soda. Wash it in warm water a regular cycle. For extra cleaning power, throw a couple of towels in the load as well.
Bath Mats and Small Rugs – Do
Mats and rugs are filled with dirt! I mean, they are contently being stomped on by dirty feet. Well, have no fear! Bath mats and small rugs are both washing machine safe. Before tossing them in, it’s recommended that you shake them off outside to get rid of loose dirt. Then, toss them in the machine with some towels, to balance out the load.
Make sure you set the machine on a delicate cycle with cold water. You also only need half of the amount of detergent you would normally use. After the wash is done, make sure to allow it to air dry. It’s important to note that you should NEVER put a rubber-backed mat into the dryer.
Reusable Grocery Bags – Do
Reusable grocery bags are another thing that you might neglect when it comes to cleaning. It’s probably just not something that crosses your mind. However, if you think about it, grocery bags go from your house to the store, to the car, to your kitchen. That is a quick and easy way for the bags to collect germs.
Also, they come in close contact with your fruits and vegetables, so you don’t want to take any chances. If you want to give your grocery bags the cleaning they deserve, toss them in the washing machine. You can just add them to a regular load of laundry (preferably, with hot water). You can also throw in them into the dryer after.
Pet Beds – Do
Obviously, pet beds get extremely gross and smelly every once in a while. Many pet owners think that these beds need to be hand-washed, but there is a much easier way. Unless there is a tag stating otherwise, pet beds can be cleaned safely in the washing machine. Well, at least the cover can.
You simply take off the outside cover and throw it into a regular load (like ordinary sheets). The foam piece is where it gets difficult. It shouldn’t be put in the machine, but I’ll tell you how to clean it anyways. Just put it in the bathtub with a scoop of laundry detergent and then air-dry. Once it’s dry, you can zip the cover back on.
Knit Hats – Don’t
Speaking of things you shouldn’t put in the washing machine. Knit hats are an essential winter element. They tend to get all smelly from sitting on our sweaty heads all day. It only makes sense to clean it in the washing machine, right? Wrong. Because of their delicate fabric and shape, knit hats will get completely destroyed in the washing machine.
I mean, think about it. The spin cycle will tear it apart and leave you with some string. When it comes to your knit hat (or anything with knitted fabric), your best bet is to hand wash it. Use a mild detergent, and your hat should be good as new. It will smell good and still maintain its shape and softness.
Memory Foam Pillows – Don’t
As we previously mentioned, pillows are washing machine safe, and it’s important to wash them. However, if you have a memory foam pillow – freeze! Unless your memory pillows specifically says otherwise, it’s not a good idea to put them in the washing machine. These comfortable and expensive pillows are certainly not something you would want to ruin.
If you put memory foam pillows in the wash, they will get soggy and lose their structure completely. And that’s only if they make it through the cycle alive. These pillows still need to be washed, so you can do this in the bathtub with some gentle detergent. It’s not the water but the spin cycle that will destroy the memory foam.
Coins – Don’t
It’s very common to forget the change in your pockets before throwing your pants in the laundry. In fact, the washing machine is a great place to find loose change. Of course, nobody does this on purpose, but this common mistake can cause a lot of damage. In fact, it can break the washing machine.
I know it seems harmless. I personally have had coins end up in my washing machine on multiple occasions. Luckily, it didn’t damage my machine… but it could have. According to James Peters, Kenmore laundry product manager, “[coins] can damage the fins of the drain pump if they make it passed the filter.” It can also cause further damage. Peters also gives some advice stating, “emptying pockets is the solution.”
Raincoats – Don’t
If you think about it, this one is pretty straight forward. If your raincoat is waterproof, then how exactly is it supposed to soak up the water in the machine for a deep cleanse? Exactly. It can’t. Every time you put a raincoat in the washing machine, it essentially traps the water like a balloon. Eventually, it will explode and make a giant mess.
So what do you do if your raincoat does get dirty? It’s extremely easy to hand wash. Because of its waterproof material, it shouldn’t be hard to slide off the dirt. If you are worried about the smell and want it completely clean. Soak it in the bathtub with some detergent. Let it air dry, and it should be as good as new!
Unzipped Zippers – Don’t
As long as they are zipped, clothes with zippers are definitely washing machine safe. However, open zippers spinning around the machine isn’t the best idea. First of all, the sharp metal teeth can get caught on other items, which can potentially ruin other items in the machine. Maybe don’t put it in the same loads as lace or delicates.
The zipper can also break off, causing damage to your machine. Similarly to coins and metal in the washer, it can harm the drum of your machine. Obviously, a lot of clothes have zippers on them, and you shouldn’t have to worry about washing them. Just make sure the zipper is zipped. If you forget, this can result in an expensive mistake.
King-Size Comforters – Don’t
This one is pretty convenient and good to know. Since most of us wash our blankets in the washing machine, here is advice for anyone with a king-sized bed. It turns out that a king-size comforter is too big to fit in a regular washing machine. You can push it in there, but I don’t recommend it unless you want to break the machine.
Even if the machine doesn’t break, it won’t do much. Because it has to be stuffed in there, the comforter will probably be just as dirty as before. If you take it to a laundromat or dry cleaners, they will most likely have industrial-sized machines. Basically, big enough to fit anything. Another option is to hand wash it.
Swimwear – Don’t
Swimwear is obviously designed for the water, so you may not know this. But the washing machine isn’t the best idea when it comes to washing your bathing suit. The mechanical action and spin cycle in the machine can cause damage to the inner structure and straps in women’s swimsuits. Plus, most bathing-suits use high-tech fabric, which can be easily ruined.
If you wash your swimsuit with other clothes, a hook or zipper can rip it or cause holes. If, for some reason, you absolutely need to wash it in the machine, set it on delicate and use mild detergent. But when it comes to swimwear, your best bet is hand washing. This is the safest way to make sure your bathing suit lasts.
Pet Hair – Don’t
If you’re a pet owner, you know the struggle. Your blankets, bed, and clothes need regular cleaning because they are covered in hair! The easiest thing to do is throw everything in the washing machine, but… that’s not the best idea. Just like your hair can clog the shower drain, pet hair is horrible for the water pump filters and drains in your machine.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying you can’t put your sweater full of dog fur in the washer. All I’m saying is before you put it in, try to take it outside and shake off some of the hair. Another tip is to put it in the dryer first. If you let it tumble in low heat for about 15 minutes, it should remove enough hair for a safe wash.
Pens – Don’t
Similar to coins, pens are something people often forget in their pockets. However, a pet in the washing machine can cause a huge disaster. It probably won’t destroy your washing machine, but it will ruin your clothes. If you accidentally put a pen in a load of laundry, it can explode in there getting in stains all the other clothes in there.
If this does happen, there are a few remedies that can help clean up the ink, but none of them a guaranteed. The safest way to avoid such a disastrous situation is to check your pockets! I’m definitely starting to. The last thing I need is to do a load of whites, and end up with ink-stained everything!
Car Keys – Don’t
If we’re honest, nobody purposely washes their car keys. If anything, they spend hours looking for their keys while they are enjoying a ride in the washing machine. Well, it’s important to keep very close attention to this one. Check your pockets because you don’t want to lose your keys, plus, they aren’t washing machine safe.
As we saw with coins and keys, metal and washing machines don’t go well together. First of all, this will cause scratches all over the inside of the washing machine. If you have an electric car key, don’t even try to revive it. Make your way to the locksmith because washing an electric car key will ruin it, and it will be unusable.
Tailored Suits – Don’t
Be very careful with your tailored suits! Sometimes, the fabric is made with cotton, polyester, or other materials that are considered “washing machine safe.” But when it comes to tailored jackets, slacks, and skirts, do yourself a favor and don’t put it in the washer. Trust me on this one.
There are materials called interfacing between the lining and outside shell of the suits. This material is what gives the jacket its crisp shape. When exposed to water, most interfacings will lose its shape and sometimes even disintegrate. If you don’t want to go out and buy a new suit, your best bet is to take it to the dry cleaner. I recommend bringing all the suit pieces together so that the color will stay consistent.
Running Sneakers – Don’t
As we said, throwing a pair of sneakers into the washing machine is completely fine. It’s a good way to keep your shoes looking new and in good condition. However, when it comes to running shoes, it’s a whole other story. Basically, most running shoes are meant to take the shape of your foot for an easy run.
By putting athletic sneakers through a spin cycle, they will most likely shrink and come out smaller than before. You will immediately notice that their shape changed, and they won’t fit you as well. Unless you’re in the market for a new pair of running shoes, keep them away from the washing machine. You can, however, check labels. Most will tell you if they are washing machine safe.
Ties – Don’t
This one is good to know. You may automatically think ties belong in the washing machine with most of your other clothes, but you’re wrong. Ties are typically made with fabrics such as silk and wool. Unfortunately, putting delicate material in the washing machine will lead to damage, shrinkage, and color loss.
Try and remember this and keep ties out of your laundry pile. When it comes to cleaning your ties, your best option is to take them to a dry cleaner, and they will be handled by a professional. If you don’t have time to go to the dry cleaners for one tie, you can hand wash it as well. Just make sure you know what you’re doing.
Purses – Don’t
We know that cleaning backpacks and reusable grocery bags in the washing machine are perfectly safe, but don’t get confused. This isn’t necessarily the case when it comes to all bags. I know some amateur fashion bloggers suggest throwing your leather or suede purse in the wash. I’m no fashion blogger, but I’m here to tell you it’s a bad idea.
These expensive items should never be placed in the washing machine under any circumstances! It’s just not worth the risk. First of all, the machine will severely damage the shape and material of the bag; the spin cycle will also mess up the zipper and most of the exterior. So basically, keep your designer bags far away from the washer.
Bras – Don’t
Okay, ladies, we all know what it’s like to find a good bra. Not only are they expensive, but it’s rare to find a good one that fits perfectly. Most of us manage to find one we really like and wear it pretty often. Therefore, we need to put it in the washing machine to keep it clean… right? Wrong! I mean, you should definitely keep in clean, just not in the washer.
Once you have a good bra, you certainly don’t want to ruin it but, that’s exactly what the washing machine will do to it. The spin cycle can destroy the underwire of your bra. The clasps can also get caught on other clothes in the machine and tear them before the clasp breaks altogether.
Lace – Don’t
Anything with thin, delicate material such as lace is far too fine just to be thrown into your washing machine. It will very easily get caught on something during the spin cycle, and it will fall apart. If you want to keep your lace items sexy and intact, keep it as far away from the washing machine as possible.
But don’t worry. Obviously, you need to clean your lace, and you can. According to The Laundress, the safest way is to hand wash your lace items, preferably in cold water. You can simply air dry afterward to keep the natural shape. If, for whatever reason, you need to use the machine, put it in a mesh bag and wash using a gentle wash cycle.
Excess Detergent – Don’t
I know that detergent is necessary while doing laundry but, pay attention to how much you are putting in. Read the label and follow instructions. If you use too much detergent, your clothes will come out with stains or residue all over them and will require another spin cycle (speaking from personal experience here).
But that’s not the worst of it. Accidentally using too much soap can be even more harmful. Too much detergent will eventually cause a build-up of mold in your washing machine. This means all the clothes that you think are freshly clean have been exposed to mold. You will probably be able to smell it. If this does happen, clean the mold early on!
Too Many Clothes – Don’t
With everyone’s busy schedules, it’s tempting just to throw all your dirty clothes into one load, and that’s it. It seems simple and saves a lot of time, but you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Putting too many clothes in the washer can result in an ineffective wash cycle. Basically, you will have to do the load again or wear clothes that are still dirty.
Unfortunately, when there are too many clothes in the machine, it can’t separate the clothes, and the spinner will be obstructed. Basically, clothes that are compacted actually hold the dirt instead of getting rid of it. Too many clothes stuffed in there can also break the machine. To keep your washer safe and clothes clean, don’t fill up your machine with one load.
Flammable Stains – Don’t
Of course, the sole purpose of a washing machine is to clean your clothes and get rid of some of those stubborn stains. However, some stains aren’t compatible with your machine. Clothing stains from gasoline, cooking oil, or alcohol are extremely flammable. Therefore, putting them in the washer can cause a house fire.
Personally, I’m pretty surprised. The number of times I put oil-stained clothes in the wash. Luckily, I didn’t start a fire, but this is something I need to look out for. If you accidentally stain your clothes with something flammable, try and remove it with a solvent-based stain remover such as the Seventh Generation Natural Stain Remover Spray, and then hand wash it.
Baby Socks – Don’t
I probably don’t need to be the one to tell you this, but once you put socks in the washing machine, you know there is a chance they won’t be there when you come back. As it turns out, your socks aren’t disappearing into thin air, and I think I solved this mystery for you once and for all. Your washing machine is literally swallowing them.
According to Stapf, “Small items like socks, baby clothes, and even small washcloths can get stick in a washing machine’s hoses and vents.” They are basically trapped in your washing machine. There are two simple options to solve this problem. You can either do things that old fashioned way and hand wash or toss it in the machine in a mesh bag.