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Beyond Clothes: Unusual Items You Can Clean in Your Washer

by Nora Jaymes

Did you know your washing machine can do more than just clean your clothes? It's true! From stuffed animals to yoga mats, your washer is equipped to handle a variety of unusual items. But why is this possible? And how can you do it safely? Let's dive in and explore the surprising versatility of your washing machine!

White and green towels are folded on top of a white washing machine.

The Hidden Cleaning Powers of Your Washing Machine

The secret behind your washing machine's versatility lies in its design and operation. Washing machines clean by agitating items in water with detergent, which loosens dirt and stains. This process, combined with the machine's ability to rinse and spin dry, makes it an effective cleaning tool for more than just clothes.

The drum of the washing machine is designed to handle sturdy materials, and the adjustable settings allow for customization based on the items being cleaned. Delicate cycles can gently clean softer items, while more robust cycles can handle tougher materials.

Moreover, the use of water and detergents can help eliminate bacteria and odors, making your washing machine a one-stop shop for a variety of cleaning tasks.

Laundry Day Secrets: Items You Didn’t Know Could Go In The Washer

Stuffed Animals

Believe it or not, most stuffed animals can take a spin in the washing machine. Place them in a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to protect them during the wash. Use a gentle cycle and mild detergent.

Shower Curtains and Liners

Instead of replacing your shower curtain when it gets dirty, give it a good wash. Remove any metal hooks or rings, then place the curtain in the washer with a couple of towels (to prevent crinkling). Use a gentle cycle with warm water and hang to dry.

Silicone Kitchen Tools

Silicone baking mats, spatulas, and oven mitts can all go in the washing machine. Place them in a mesh laundry bag and wash them on a gentle cycle.

Woman sits on top of a washing maching with phone and next to detergent

Small Rugs

Many small rugs, especially those made of cotton or synthetic fibers, can be machine-washed. Shake out the rug to remove any loose dirt before washing it on a gentle cycle with cold water. Always air-dry rugs in a ventilated area to maintain their shape.

Backpacks and Lunch Bags

Many backpacks and lunch bags can be washed in the machine, but always check the care label first. Empty all pockets, then turn the bag inside out if possible. Wash on a gentle cycle with cold water and let it air dry.


Most down and fiberfill pillows are machine washable. Remove pillowcases and wash two pillows at a time to balance the load. Use a small amount of detergent and run the rinse cycle twice to ensure all the detergent is removed. Dry thoroughly to prevent mildew.

Yoga Mats

Your yoga mat can accumulate a lot of sweat and dirt with regular use. To clean it, first, shake off any loose dirt. Then, place it in the washing machine by itself and add a small amount of mild detergent. Use a gentle cycle with cold water. After washing, roll the mat in a towel to squeeze out excess water, then lay it flat to dry.


Many sneakers can be cleaned in the washing machine. Remove the laces and insoles, then place the shoes in a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase. Add a few towels to the load to prevent the shoes from banging around. Use a gentle cycle with cold water and a small amount of detergent. Always air-dry sneakers to maintain their shape.

Remember, always check the care labels on items before washing, and when in doubt, do a spot test or opt for hand washing. Your washing machine is more versatile than you might think!

Soap and towels/blankets spin in a closed white washer

Washing Wisdom: Precautions and Tips for Unconventional Laundry

While your washing machine can handle a variety of items, it's important to take some precautions to protect both your machine and the items you're cleaning. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Check Care Labels: Always check the care labels on items before washing. Some items may not be machine washable or may require specific settings.
  • Use Mesh Bags: Small or delicate items can be placed in mesh laundry bags to protect them during the wash cycle.
  • Balance Your Load: When washing heavy items like shoes or rugs, add some towels to balance the load and prevent your machine from shaking.
  • Use the Right Detergent: Some items may require a specific type of detergent. For example, use a gentle, bleach-free detergent for stuffed animals.
  • Air Dry: Many items should be air-dried after washing to maintain their shape and prevent damage.
  • Don't Overload: Overloading your machine can cause it to become unbalanced and may not clean your items effectively.

Remember, your washing machine is a powerful tool, but it's not invincible. Always follow these precautions to keep it running smoothly and your items looking their best.

So, there you have it! Your washing machine is a versatile cleaning powerhouse, capable of tackling more than just your laundry. With the right precautions and a little know-how, you can clean a variety of items right in your washer. Could your washing machine use an upgrade? Stop in to shop our selection or contact us today!