Alan Hovhaness
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My washing machine is churning right now, busily working on a soapy load of jeans.

It’s one of the most active appliances in our house, dutifully returning my daughter’s winter jacket to snowy white or whirring its way through another endless pile of dirty T-shirts.

I usually just empty our regular clothes hampers full of standard dirty clothing into the washer and don’t think twice about it. But over the years, I’ve also thrown everything from car mats to pillows into the washer, and they’ve all come out fine.

To avoid disasters: Check individual items first to make sure they’re not labeled hand-wash only. If an item is absolutely irreplaceable, best to hand-wash it in a sink with some Woolite rather than risk the washer.

Now, here’s a look at more than a dozen items your washing machine can handle. Soon, you’ll be cleaning up big-time.

1. Stuffed animals

Girl and teddy bear
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My daughter’s stuffed animal buddies are sweet little softies, but most of them are tougher than they look. From Beanie Babies to Barbie clothes, the washing machine’s gentle or delicate cycle can handle many of them.

Note on Barbie: I wouldn’t put the doll herself in the washer. And to keep her tiny clothes from getting lost or snagged, I slip them into a small mesh lingerie bag that zips shut.

Any absolutely precious dolls — such as Grandma’s beloved Raggedy Ann — should be washed delicately by hand, perhaps with a soapy toothbrush, and then carefully rinsed with a damp cloth.

2. Tennis shoes

Smelly shoes
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Athletic footwear can get filthy. To wash them in a machine, first, take out the laces and zip them inside a small mesh lingerie bag. Toss the mesh bag in the washer along with your shoes and some old towels. The towels balance the load and minimize the annoying banging noise.

If the shoes are super-muddy, rinse off the mud in a utility sink or brush it off with a wet paper towel before washing. When they come out, your sole will be heeled.

3. Mop heads

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Mops are great for cleaning, but what happens when the mop heads themselves get dirty? Removable mop heads (not sponge mops) can be taken off and tossed in the washer by themselves, perhaps with a little bleach.

When the cycle’s over, squeeze out any excess water and hang them up somewhere to dry.

4. Cloth and silicone oven mitts

Woman near oven
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Oven mitts protect cooks’ hands from the oven’s heat, but cloth ones also soak up stains from cake batter, bubbling lasagna or anything else they accidentally touch. Never fear, it’ll all pan out if you give the mitts a good wash.

If stains are especially bad, work on them with a small soapy brush before handing the job off to your washer.

Silicone oven mitts won’t soak up liquids as you cook — most are waterproof, nonporous and stainproof. Since they’re made of silicone, you can just wipe them off. Or, if you prefer, you can toss them in the washing machine or even the dishwasher!

5. Small toys

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Kids’ toys can get filthy — and germy too. Small toys, such as especially dirty plastic blocks, can be tossed into a mesh laundry bag and washed. (Again, throw some old towels in the load to even things out.)

Bath toys can also be washed this way if the suds from the tub don’t clean them. Warning: The kind of bath toys with holes in them so kids can squirt water often get moldy inside no matter how careful parents are. Thankfully, they’re cheap and easy to replace if this does happen.

6. Plastic shower curtains and liners

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Shower curtains and their plastic liners can get kinda gross. Toss them in a warm-water cycle and let them take their own shower.

7. Yoga mats and sports padding

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Stay calm, yoga fans: Your yoga mats can usually go in the washer on the gentle cycle with some mild detergent. Unroll the mat first so all the little angles get clean, and wash it separately from your clothing.

If the mat has some small stains, you can just tackle those by hand with a few squirts of detergent and some elbow grease. Lay your mat flat to dry so it doesn’t curl up, which might harsh your next yoga session.

Your family’s sports padding devices, such as roller-skating knee pads and wrist pads or soccer shin guards, can get sweaty and dirty. But thankfully, such pads are often machine-washable.

Toss them in a mesh laundry bag or zip-up pillow case — their straps and buckles might bang up your machine otherwise.

8. Patio furniture cushions

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Size does matter. If your patio-furniture cushions fit in your washer and still leave room for the machine to spin, go ahead and wash them there — again, unless tags on the material warn you off. If your washer is too small, you can try the industrial-sized ones at the laundromat.

9. Pet beds

Puppies on a dog bed.
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Fluffy and Fido may love their soft, snuggly beds, but doggone it, they can stink them up something awful.

Good mews: Cat and dog beds can often go right into the washer. If the bed is too large for your washer, you can take it to a laundromat — or better yet, check to see if the cover is removable, and just wash that.

PetMD.com recommends that all of the pet bedding you launder be washed at a high temperature to kill germs. If your dog or cat has sensitive skin, use a natural detergent and give the bed an extra rinse cycle. Purr-fect!

10. Nylon pet collars and leashes

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Read More: 15 Surprising Things You Can Clean in a Washing Machine

2022-11-18 08:15:00

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