20 Things You Didn’t Know Could Be Cleaned in Your Washing Machine

What do you use your washing machine for, if you don’t mind my asking? It might seem a bit like a silly and obvious question (laundry, duh), but it’s actually a valid question. Sure, you do use your washing machine primarily to clean your laundry, but did you know that there are a number of other things you can put into the washing machine only to see them come out as clean, fresh and fabulous as ever? Read on to find out 20 things you had no idea you could fit into your washing machine. Your life is about to change forever.

Shower Curtains

The one thing in life I am so happy to have given up when we bought our new house is shower curtains. They’re nasty, grimy and I hated replacing them every few months. Our new house has walk-in showers in all the bathrooms, so this is not an issue. However, I wish I would have known I could stick my shower curtain in the washing machine over the course of the 10 years we lived in our old home. Just wash it on a delicate cycle, and add some towels if you’d like.

Shower Curtain Liners

They’re all of $5 a piece, but when you have three bathrooms and the need to replace them every other month, you’re talking $90 per year on plastic shower curtain liners over the course of 10 years. That’s $900 wasted on shower curtain liners in the past decade for our family, and that kind of hurts to realize. You can just throw those bad boys in the washing machine on a delicate cycle and watch them come clean.

Lunch Boxes

When you use a cold cycle and you toss in your lunch boxes, they’ll actually come clean. Yes, even the insulated ones. I learned this after my darling 4-year-old chose her favorite lunch box from Pottery Barn Kids and then promptly colored all over it in the car when I picked her up from VPK one day. It was a shocking moment for us all. However, I figured since I had nothing to lose I’d just throw it in the wash with some towels. It came clean and looked as good as new.


My son and my husband are murder on hats. Since we live in Florida, their heads sweat. My son is only a year-and-a-half, so his hats are just gross in the way that anything that a child this age is gross. I toss them into the wash on a gentle cycle and cold water and let them wash. When it’s time to dry them, I put some paper inside the heads to keep them all nice and shaped sans wrinkles.


Some of you might already clean your shoes in the washing machine, and some might not. I’m not about to stick a pair of Louboutins in the washing machine, but I have no problem putting my running shoes in there. I even found out recently (by accident) that you can put your child’s Sketchers Twinkle Toe light up shoes in there and they will still light up as nicely as ever. Just throw those bad boys in there with a load of towels on a cold cycle and let it go to town.

Yoga Mats

Here’s something that comes as a shock to me. As an avid yoga fan, I have always wiped my mats down very well after ever session, but I had no idea it could go into the wash. It can; just wash it on a gentle cycle with cold water and do not allow it to go through the spin cycle. Just time it and get it out of there before that happens and your mat will be as fresh as it was when it was purchased.

Stuffed Animals

Let’s face it; our kids are gross and they do gross things. Our one and-a-half-year-old twins will soak the bed every so often and their animals that they love to sleep with will be soaking wet. We have no choice but to wash them or risk the entire house reeking like animals that have been, well, urinated on. Our trick is to run them through the wash the same way we do the towels.

Patio Chair Covers

We know that the patio is a wonderful place to sit and relax, but it can also be a little bit gross to sit down on chair pads that have seen one too many storms and one too many ugly weather days. When yours don’t look that good, go ahead and stick them into the washing machine. The only downfall here is that only one or two at a time will fit, and that’s a drag.


Who knew you could wash these amazingly painful little toys? They’re gross, so it works for us. They get all kinds of dirt, grime and germs on them, so we like the idea of washing them in the wash. You’ll need to fill up a few pillow cases with these things and tie them up and then run them through the wash on a gentle cycle. It’s a nice idea, right?

Sports Equipment

Nothing is as nasty as equipment like knee pads and other items that smell like dirty, sweat and so many other horrible things. You can wash them by putting them into the washing machine on a warm regular cycle. It will help to make the smell go away. No one is really worried about stains; in this case it is all about the smell of the equipment that is the biggest problem.

Pet Beds

If you have a cat or dog that likes to lie on his bed, go ahead and wash that on occasion. Much like the rest of the family, we think your dog or cat might be happy to see that his or her bed is clean for once. It’s a nice feeling and it doesn’t even take any special detergent to wash it. That’s a nice addition to something that might make your house smell just a little bit nicer than it already does.

Pet Collars

Do you have a dog that just loves to spend time outside doing everything in his abilities to get dirty and disgusting? If you do, you will love knowing that you can throw his collar into the washing machine without hesitation to ensure that he is able to stay as fresh and clean as possible. We love that concept and idea, and it works well for everyone involved.

Pet Leashes

Dogs are notorious for getting dirty and disgusting. If yours ever gets away from you and makes a beeline for a puddle, that leash is going to be nasty. Fortunately for you, you are able to go ahead and make sure that your leash is clean by running it through the washing machine on a gentle cycle with some towels. Probably towels your dog made filthy when you cleaned him up.


We have a four-year-old who, when she was first learning to go potty, would soak through her pull-up at night because she would not put it back on correctly if she went potty at any point without our help in the night. She’d half cover, and it was always her pillow that got wet. All you have to do is wash these with warm water on a gentle cycle. When it comes to drying them, get some dryer balls to keep them from clumping up.

These are items notorious for smell, um, less than stellar. So after a while, they need a bath. Instead of buying a new gym bag, go ahead and stick yours in the washing machine with the towels. It’s not something that needs any special attention beyond that. All you need to know is that it will smell significantly more amazing when you are done.

Car Mats

This is something that I have learned. I have an obsession with cleanliness at home and in my SUV. With four kids, that often requires a quick daily vacuum and some serious attention. I like to take my caramel colored floor mats and toss them in the washing machine when they begin to look less than ideal. It’s helpful and amazing, and you can put them into the dryer on occasion, too.

Door Mats

Do you have a great door mat that is just a little too dirty for your taste? I have a habit of purchasing personalized door mats for all the seasons and holidays, and sometimes they get a little gross. We never use our front door since we park in the garage, but someone we know has nasty feet apparently. Our door mats go nicely in the wash on a gentle cycle, and for that we are so appreciative.


If your kids are as messy as mine (how do they do that to their backpacks?), you might want to know that you can toss their backpack into the washing machine when it’s getting just a little filthy and nasty. It’s easy, doesn’t take any longer than a typical wash, and it makes a big difference in the overall look of your laundry. We highly recommend it all the way through.


You might wonder if you can wash your curtains. What if they are destroyed in the machine? Just wash them on a gentle cycle and they should be fine. Just remember, though, that if they are 100% cotton, they might shrink a bit if you choose to dry them in the dryer. A hanging dry time might be better in this instance, for certain.

Area Rugs

You are not getting a large area rug in the wash, but you might be able to get your smaller ones in there. Think of the ones that are in halls, bathrooms and bedrooms. They’re often a little bit smaller and more appropriate for something like this, and that’s what we love about our washing machines.


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