More than a few homes have an unwritten law in place that goes something like this: “If it ends up in with the wash, either before, during or afterwards, it’s MINE.” This is spoken by the person who is assigned laundry duty. And obviously, there have been enough occasions of the discovery of foreign objects at some point during wash detail to necessitate the rule. There are many items that should never become part of a wash load, such as tubes of lipstick, Sharpie markers, crayons and such, however the item most frequently showing up at the base of the washer’s drum is money. While coins tend to find their way down to the very bottom, lighter forms of money like bills can often be found stuck to the walls of the drum after the final spin cycle has completed. So, money is one item that you can (and at one time or another will,) wash.
Intentionally Cleanable Items
Moving right along, next comes the issue of many items you can effectively use your washer to clean, and many of these might surprise you.
Small Rugs, and Especially Those With Rubber Backing
Smaller rugs in high traffic areas must stand up to a lot of foot traffic, and unless they are made of wool, you can toss them into the washer for a clean renewal, whenever they start looking dingy. Non-skid rugs tend to become dirty rather quickly, and those made of cotton or some type of synthetic fibers wash great in the washing machine. You can clean them in the same load along with your bath towels. Wash using cold water, and with the gentle cycle setting. Try to limit the frequency with which you clean them, as over time, the rubber backing will eventually begin to deteriorate.
Backpacks and Lunch Bags
Check the inner tags first, or if you have an owner’s manual, check that. If you determine that your backpack or lunch bag is machine washable, go for it. While the best machine for washing such bags is a front loader, if you use the gentle cycle on a top loader, you should be just fine. If possible, before placing these into the washer, try turning them inside out. If you can’t, try placing the item inside of a pillowcase to provide extra protection.
The most well-loved stuffed animals belonging to your children go through the most wear and tear, and often become quite dirty looking, from outdoor play, spilled puddings and drinks, blood, sweat and tears and more. When your adoring child is sleeping, you can give all those cute stuffed animals a bath by placing them into the washing machine using cold water and a gentle cycle. If you want to protect certain embellishments, before loading them into the washer, place them in mesh bags or clean pillowcases. If there is a care tag still attached, refer to any specifications. Some furs are not washable, however most for children’s toys are. Toys that are stuffed with little foam balls, like Beanie Babies are also not machine washable.
Plastic (and Fabric) Shower Curtains
You can wash your fabric shower curtains in the washing machine, giving them a new life and sparkle. And plastic shower curtains can quickly become layered with built up soap scum, and in desperation, they are often tossed out and replaced. This is never necessary, as they can be effectively cleaned in the washing machine. Regardless of whether yours is clear, plain plastic or imprinted with a design, you can wash it and make it look like new right in your washer. Just plan on giving your shower curtain a wash at regular intervals, based on volume of use. You will feel cleaner by showering in a shower that has a completely clear plastic shower curtain.
Outdoor Chair Cushions
When you are busy performing the various areas of spring cleaning, don’t forget about those cushions on your patio furniture. You might be only able to wash one cushion or pad at a time, however you can get it done effectively and easily. Just hang the cushions to air dry. Make sure to use the gentle cycle If your cushions are made from finely woven plastic threads, you can even add in some bleach to the wash, to handle any mold and mildew from being outside, year round.
Curtains on windows get dirty. Take them down periodically and wash on gentle with a slow spin cycle in cold water.
Leafy Green Vegetables Like Spinach, Collard Greens, Kale and Lettuce
Side note: While you don’t want to actually wash food in your washer, you can purchase a special canvas type bag into which you can take those fresh greens directly from your garden, wash them well in the kitchen sink and then, by using the spin cycle dry them beyond your wildest expectations. No other method works this well!
Legos and Other Small Plastic Toys
Toss small plastic toys like legos and such into a pillowcase or laundry bag and run them through the washing machine. This certainly beats wiping down one toy at a time, and while you’re at it, toss in your kids’ sports shin, knee, elbow and wrist guards too. Add a towel or two to soften the process and prevent the plastics from breaking.
Car Floor Mats
Car floor mats tend to go unnoticed until they look really bad. Pre-treat them with a stain remover and wash as you would your laundry. Hang to dry.
Your Yoga Mat
Like your car’s mats, your yoga mat needs washing, and even more frequently. You can safely wash it in the washer.
It’s a bit noisy, so make sure to add some towels in with your sneakers and running shoes. Before washing, use a Magic Eraser to remove any scuffs and marks. Try to avoid washing leather athletic shoes in the washer, and always use cold water. Remove laces and insoles if possible, and wash separately.
Pillows that are stuffed with down or fiberfill can safely be cleaned in your washing machine. Use the gentle cycle and warm water. Lay on a rack to dry, or partly dry in the dryer on delicate, and then lay flat to dry further.