Article By Leanne Potts
Car floor mats in the washer? Usually, yep.
Sometimes we learn from trial and error. But when it comes to a pricey appliance you use a lot, like a washing machine, you don’t want to take chances with the laundry you put in it. If you do, you risk damaging the machine (hello, expensive repair visit) and ruining the item you’re washing. On the other hand, why wash items by hand or throw them out if they can safely go in the washing machine?
Here are 11 surprising items you can machine wash — and a few things you should never wash — or wash with caution.
Things You Can Put in a Washing Machine
#1 Kitchen Sponges
They get grungy, and nasty, and can become a breeding ground for germs. Toss that sponge into the washing machine and run it through a sanitize cycle or use the hot water setting. You’ll destroy the germs. Throw in some dirty towels, too, so you’re getting your money’s worth from the power and water you’re using.
Yes! You can clean canvas, pleather, and fabric sneakers. Wash them with a load of towels to muffle the noise they make thumping around in the drum. Use a gentle cycle and warm water and run an extra rinse cycle to remove soap residue. Use a drying rack for front loader dryers to dry sneakers. Whirlpool recommends removing the laces and insoles and then putting the sneakers in a closed mesh bag before washing.
#3 Dog Collars and Leashes
Fabric and canvas collars and leashes can get super dirty. Toss yours into the washer to get them clean and fresh. Be sure to put them into a mesh laundry bag made for lingerie so that the metal buckles and clips on the leashes and collars don’t break the glass on a front loading washer or ding the drum walls of a top loader. Run them on a short cycle and air dry them. Be sure to remove all metal tags or you could break the glass on the machine. I know this from experience.
#4 Stuffed Animals
Your kids’ lovies can get dirty and germy from all the hugging and cuddling. Put them in washbags and use a gentle cycle. Check their label to make sure they can be washed. You can wash your dog’s fuzzy squeaky toys this way, too.
#5 Dog and Kid Toys
You can put small plastic and rubber toys that belong to your kids or your fur kids in the wash. Use the handy dandy washbag we keep telling you about, and you can wash everything from your child’s plastic dinosaur set to your dog’s Kong. Run them on a sanitize cycle or use the hot water setting to blast the germs.
#6 Car Floor Mats
Vacuum them for pet hair and dust, spot treat stains, and toss them in the washer. Wash them in warm water on a gentle cycle, then put them in the sun to dry. A couple of tips: This advice is for rubber and upholstered mats. Make sure your machine is large enough to accommodate the mats. (If you have a tiny, cute machine, it’s a no-go), and wash the mats in small batches if necessary rather than overstuffing the machine.
#7 Dog Beds (but Proceed With Caution)
You can throw the entire bed into the washer if it’s for a small dog or you have a big washer. For larger dog beds, take the cover off and wash it alone. Be sure there are no small tears in the bed before you wash it or you’ll end up with a ripped up dog bed and a washer full of stuffing.
You can wash both down and down-alternative comforters in your washer, but just make sure your machine is large enough to handle the heft. Front-load washers work best. Spot clean stains, use a mild detergent, and wash on the delicate cycle. Run through two rinse cycles to get all the soap out.
#9 Shower Curtains and Liners
They get slimy and mildewy, and your washer can make them clean again. Use warm water and a gentle cycle. And don’t put them in the dryer. Air dry liners and shower curtains.
#10 Backpacks and Fabric Lunchboxes
Good grief, the stuff kids spill in and on their backpacks and lunchboxes. You can wash the items easily and let them air dry.
#11 Yoga Mats
If your yoga mat is getting a little too grungy for your liking, wash it in warm water on a gentle cycle so it won’t tear. Use a regular detergent, skip the spin cycle, and air dry the mat.
Jason Gelios is a Husband and Father. After that, a Top Producing REALTOR®, Author of the books 'Think like a REALTOR®' and 'Beating The Force Of Average', Creator of The AskJasonGelios Real Estate Show and Expert Media Contributor to media outlets across the country.