As a mom of four kids, I’ve had to figure out how to clean a lot of different kinds of items over the years. Kids can be really messy, and mine were not shy about spreading their messes all over the house! But the experience of cleaning up after four messy kids did teach me a lot. And one of the most valuable things I learned is that you can clean a LOT of stuff with your washing machine!
Being able to simply toss things in the wash has saved me so much time and effort over the years. Today I’ll be sharing a list of some unexpected items you can wash in your washing machine, so you can save yourself some time and effort too! But before we get to that, I wanted to share a few general tips about washing non-clothing items. These helpful tips apply to almost every item that I’ll mention later on in the post, so it’s a great place to start! :-)
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8 Helpful Tips For Washing Unconventional Items
Tip #1: Many items fare better in the wash if they’re zipped into a mesh bag first. You can buy a set of mesh laundry bags online for just a few dollars. You can also use an old pillowcase in a pinch!
Tip #2: When washing smaller, heavier items, add a few towels to the wash load. The towels will help cushion the items and keep them from knocking around too much. Towels can also help add weight, which is especially helpful in HE washers that dispense water based on the weight of the wash load.
Tip #3: If your item is very soiled, you’ll want to spray it as clean as you can first before washing. One option is to take it outside and spray it down with your garden hose. You can also take it to a self-service car wash and spray it down there. (You can read more about cleaning items at the car wash at this link.)
Tip #4: Use the most gentle cycle on your washer, along with the coldest water setting. This is the safest bet for most items. You can always rewash something on a higher setting if it doesn’t come completely clean.
Tip #5: Use a minimal amount of gentle detergent when washing unconventional items. Castile soap is a good choice for gentle materials and pet-related items.
Tip #6: If odor is an issue, try adding vinegar to the wash. Add about 1/2 cup of white vinegar during the rinse cycle OR to the fabric softener tray.
Tip #7: Always air dry! Hang items up to dry, or lay them flat on a towel if stretching could be an issue. I know it takes longer, but it’s safest way to dry most items!
Tip #8: Always check the tags, owner’s manual, or any other guidelines for rules about washing! Some items and materials just shouldn’t go in the washer.
Okay, now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get to the good stuff! :-)
18 Surprising Things You Can Clean In Your Washing Machine
1. Shower Curtains Liners
You can wash your shower curtain liner to remove soap scum and mildew. Make sure to add a few bath towels to the load to “cushion” the liner and keep it from tearing. Use a small amount of your regular detergent, along with 1 cup of baking soda. The baking soda will help loosen the gunk and the towels will help scrub it away!
2. Patio Chair Cushions
Wash your chair cushions in cold water on a gentle cycle. (Treat stains first with a pre-treater, if necessary.) Allow them to air dry completely before using.
3. Car Mats
If the floor mats in your car aren’t too big or too heavy, you can wash them in your washing machine! They’ll look so much better after a good cleaning.
4. Rubber-Backed Rugs & Mats
These items can handle the occasional wash. Washing them too often will likely cause the backing to lose its grip. Only wash them when they really need it, and vacuum them often to help keep them clean.
5. Leather Purses
When I first read that you could wash a leather purse in your washing machine, I was highly skeptical. I was certain the purse was bound to get ruined! But curiosity often gets the best of me, so I gave it a try. And it totally worked! Check out my post at the link below to get all the details.
Related: How To Wash A Leather Purse
6. Bathmats & Throw Rugs
Toss your bathmats and small rugs in the wash with a couple of towels.
7. Hair Ties & Headbands
Over time, hair accessories can get covered in buildup from oil and hair products. They need a good wash every once in a while! Toss them all into a small mesh bag and throw them in with your next load of laundry.
To clean lace or sheer curtains, zip them into a mesh bag first. Traditional fabric curtains can be washed on a delicate cycle in cold water. Avoid machine-washing heavy or velvet-y curtains.
9. Sheepskin Boots
If you have a pair of old Uggs that have seen better days, try washing them. Start by brushing off any loose dirt from the outside. Then place the boots in a mesh bag, and place them in your washer with a couple of bath towels. Use the delicate setting on your washer and cold water. Remove the boots immediately once the wash is done, and give the fleece lining a good fluff. Let them air dry overnight.
10. Yoga Mats
Wash your yoga mats in cold water on a delicate setting, and air dry it flat.
11. Canvas Shoes & Sneakers
Remove the laces of the shoes and zip them into a mesh bag. Place the shoes and the bag in your washer, along with two or three bath towels. (This helps keep the shoes from banging around so much in the wash.) After washing, let the shoes air dry completely.
12. Backpacks & Gym Bags
Place bags with straps inside a mesh bag before washing. If you don’t have a mesh bag big enough, you can flip the bag inside-out so the straps stay contained. Make sure to open and unzip all the pockets before washing. Hang to dry completely.
13. Baseball Hats
You can safely wash almost any modern baseball cap, because the brims have a plastic core. (Vintage baseball caps are more likely to have a cardboard brim, so you definitely don’t want to run them through the wash!) Wash baseball caps with cold water on a delicate cycle, then let air dry.
14. Small Toys
Plastic toys, silicone toys, and most stuffed animals can be washed in your machine. Place them in a mesh bag first, and wash in cold water on a delicate cycle. Avoid washing rubber toys or anything with small parts and batteries. As for stuffed toys, only wash them if they are filled with regular stuffing (meaning no beads!)
15. “Hand Wash” Items
If a tag says an item should be hand-washed, I’ll generally wash it in my washer instead. I just toss the item into a mesh bag, then wash it on a delicate cycle. It hasn’t failed me yet!
16. Reusable Grocery Bags
Wash your reusable grocery bags every once in a while to keep them sanitary. I’ve washed both vinyl and cloth bags in my washer successfully!
17. Pet Collars & Leashes
Nylon collars and leashes can be washed anytime. Just place them in a mesh bag first! Wash, then let them air dry.
18. Pet Beds
A lot of pet beds have removable covers, which makes washing them super easy. If yours doesn’t have a removable cover, here are a few tips for washing it. Start by vacuuming any hair or dirt off the surface, then wash with a gentle detergent. Place it in your dryer for 10-20 minutes, just to give it a head start on drying. Then let it air dry the rest of the way before returning the bed to your pet.