16 Things You Never Knew You Could Put in the Washing Machine

Stuffed animals and small toys? Sure. Yoga mats and baseball caps? Bring them on.

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Single teddy bear on a floor in a child room

Stuffed animals

Place each stuffed animal in its own mesh laundry bag and set your machine to wash and rinse. Use cold water (warm or hot water could melt the toy’s glue) and half the regular amount of detergent, advises Housewife How-Tos. Run the animals through a second rinse cycle to remove all the soap and allow them to air dry. Fluff fur as needed.

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cleaning wooden floor with orange wet mop

Mop heads

Check the label on your removable mop head to see if it can go in the washing machine—most are made to be removable for exactly this purpose. If you’re using a Swiffer, give your wipes a simple hand wash to ready them for a second use.

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Oven gloves hanging in a row on the kitchen fridge

Oven mitts

Add oven mitts and potholders to your load of dishtowels and washcloths. Here are some other common household items you aren’t washing nearly often enough.

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Closeup of a baseball cap with space for text. A man in a cap with a visor sitting with his head down and talking on the phone. Man uses the gadget.
Foxy burrow/Shutterstock

Baseball caps

Spray caps with stain remover and let them sit for five minutes, suggests blogger MomCrieff. Run the hats on a short cycle using cold water. Reshape each hat and allow them to air dry.

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Men's sport shoes.
NIKITA TV/Shutterstock


Remove the laces from canvas or nylon sneakers and slip them into a cotton pillowcase where they won’t get tangled. Take out any inner soles or padding from the sneakers and toss the shoes and pillowcase into your washer (if you’re concerned about the shoes causing a racket, throw in a few towels as well). Add the regular amount of detergent, plus a dash of vinegar to deodorize. Set your machine on a cold-wash delicate cycle. Allow the shoes and shoelaces to air dry.

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Lego is a line of plastic construction toys that are manufactured by The Lego Group

Small toys

Load small toys such as Legos, bath-time puffers or the ball your dog uses to play fetch into a mesh laundry bag. Run them through a cool delicate cycle to get them squeaky clean. Learn which objects you’re probably cleaning too much.

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Young woman plumping white pillow on bed, closeup; Shutterstock ID 1149647606; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of Home
New Africa/Shutterstock


Wash pillows two at a time in a warm-water gentle cycle. To ensure you’ve washing out all the soap, add an extra cold-water rinse and spin, advises Good Housekeeping. To fluff things up, dry the pillows on low heat along with a few rubber dryer balls.

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cream curtains hanging on the rope on the plastic hook in the white ceiling illuminated by daylight

Plastic shower curtains

Clean a plastic shower curtain with a regular amount of detergent. Add two or three bath towels for extra cleaning power. Hang to dry. Did you know you may have been cleaning your bathroom wrong all this time? Here’s are the mistakes to avoid.

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Lunch box filled with rice and sandwich near thermos, fresh apples and biscuits in front of kids school backpack on white wooden background

Backpacks and lunch boxes

Open all of your backpack’s pockets and check for any items that might be hidden. If there are large pieces of crumbs or debris, use your vacuum cleaner’s crevice attachment to do a thorough pre-cleaning. Put your backpack into a laundry bag or pillowcase and wash it on a gentle cycle in cold water with a small amount of gentle detergent. Allow to air dry. Learn some surprising things you didn’t know you could clean in the dishwasher.

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Young yoga Woman rolling her lilac mat after a yoga class on wooden floor near a window

Yoga mat

If the care instructions on your mat don’t advise against putting it in the washing machine, you most likely can. “Throw [your mat] in the washing machine once a month. No soap. Then into the dryer on medium to high heat,” Lauren Imparato, founder of I.Am.You yoga in New York City, told Well+Good.

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Rug on hard floor
July Prokopiv/Shutterstock

Bath mats and small rugs

Learning how to wash your bath mat is simple: take the mat outside and shake it to remove any loose dirt, then load the rug into the washing machine with a few bath towels to balance the load. Set the machine on a cold-wash delicate cycle and add half the regular amount of detergent. Allow the mat to air dry (never put a rubber-backed mat into the dryer). Here are some more things that should never, ever end up in your dryer.

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Reusable canvas grocery bag with red and yellow tomatoes and spinach.
Rin Ohara/Shutterstock

Reusable grocery bags

Your reusable canvas grocery bags go from the inside of your shopping cart to the trunk of your car to…your kitchen counter. Plus, they’re in close contact with your fruits and veggies. Give them the thorough cleaning they deserve. Canvas bags can go straight into the washing machine on a hot-water regular cycle with the recommended amount of detergent. Pop them right into the dryer afterward.

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High Angle View Of Various Sport Equipments On Green Grass

Sports equipment

Give sports gear (knee, elbow and shoulder pads, shin guards, gloves) a good cleaning at least once a month. Close all Velcro closures to prevent them from snagging or tangling, and put them each in laundry bags and into the washing machine. Add a half amount of gentle detergent and wash on a regular cycle. Make sure you know whether or not you’re using too much laundry detergent.

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shutterstock_267382895 french bulldog in pet bed
Patryk Kosmider/Shutterstock

Pet beds

Foam pet beds can be cleaned whenever you see fit. Remove the bed’s outside cover and place it in the washing machine with cold water and regular detergent. To clean the foam piece, fill your bathtub halfway with warm water. Add a scoop of laundry detergent and sink the bed into the soapy water. Empty the soap water from the tub and refill with clean water. Rinse the foam out and place it in the sun to air dry. Replace the foam cover and zip it up.

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sport, fitness, healthy lifestyle and objects concept - close up of female sports stuff in bag and dumbbells
Syda Productions/Shutterstock

Gym bags

Aside from the sweat and gunk that accumulates inside your bag, the outside is also covered in the germs the bag picks up in the locker room. Open all of your gym bag’s pockets to check for any forgotten items and wash on a cold-water gentle cycle. Next, learn the two magic ingredients you should be adding to your wash cycle.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest