14 unexpected things you can throw in the washing machine

Doing the laundry may not rank on top of your chore list. But, few can argue against the convenience of a good washing machine. Yes, they clean our clothes and bedding. However, there’s so much more this handy appliance can handle!

Here’s our laundry list of 14 unexpected things you can also clean in the washing machine. And it’s as easy as pressing the ‘start’ button.

1. Stuffed Animals

Can you imagine how many germs are cultivating on a stuffed animal that’s constantly in tow?

The blog Housewife How-To’s recommends placing the stuffed animal you intend to wash in a small mesh laundry bag or a pillow case. You’ll want to choose a cold wash and rinse cycle and use only half of the normal amount of detergent. If you’re washing more than one, then place each in their own bag to prevent the stuffed animals from rubbing together and damaging their fabric coverings.

Megan Fenno

2. Pet Beds

Yeah, that pet bed you have for Fido may smell a bit, but it’s fixable! It’s easy to wash the bed’s outside cover in the washing machine. Just put it on the cold cycle with regular detergent.

You can also wash the foam insert by adding detergent to a bathtub filled with water. Rinse and allow the foam to air dry.

Kat Cheng/Flickr

3. Curtains

If you take a close look at curtains that’ve been hanging for awhile, you might be surprised at the amount of dust collected. Some curtains are perfectly fine to toss in the washing machine, but just make sure you read the care label first.


4. Car Mats

If you have dirty floor mats in your car that could use a good cleaning, you’ll be happy to know they’re definitely machine-washable. And you can pre-treat your car mats the same way you would a pair of your kid’s grass-stained jeans.

By using warm water and your normal detergent, your floor mats may just look brand again.


5. Mop Heads

If you’re mop head has seen better days, try washing it in the washing machine instead of replacing it.

Your Best Digs/Flickr

6. Oven Mits

It’s probably a good idea to wash your oven mats and pot holders every now and then to prevent grease and food build up. Thankfully, it’s super easy to just toss them in the washing machine.

I’ve been doing this for years. But, I do recommend air drying them so they don’t shrink or become super wrinkled.

Megan Fenno

7. Toys In The Washing Machine?

Yes! Bath toys, plastic blocks, LEGO bricks and action figures can all be washed in the washing machine using the delicate cycle and cold water. It’s a good idea to place them in a mesh laundry bag though, so you’re not spending the afternoon picking out tiny LEGO blocks from the bottom of your washer.

Nastya Pestrikova/Flickr

8. Pillows

It’s actually quite simple to wash your bed pillows in the washing machine and this tutorial will show you just how to do it.


9. Running Shoes

Keep your running shoes clean and fresh by running them through a cycle in the washing machine. If you’re washing just shoes, it can get a little noisy, so it’s recommended you throw in a few towels to help muffle the noise.

Megan Fenno

10. Plastic Shower Curtains And Liners

Instead of replacing shower curtain liners when they start to get slimy, try throwing them in the washing machine with a few towels. They’ll look as good as new.


11. Rugs

Cotton or synthetic rugs that have rubber backs can be thrown in the washing machine to remove any mold, mildew and other bathroom nasties.

As an avid-rug washer, I recommend arranging them evenly in the washing machine prior to running the cycle. Otherwise, they might start to unbalance your washing machine. And that’s even louder than washing a pair of shoes.

Megan Fenno

12. Yoga Mats

If your yoga mat is in need of a good cleaning, you can pop it in the washing machine using the delicate cycle and cold water. We  suggest reading the care label first though, just to make sure it’s okay. 
yoga mat photo
Flickr | debtony

13. Soft-Sided Lunch Boxes

My kid’s lunch box can get pretty sticky. So I throw it in the washing machine on a regular basis. I usually wash it on a cold cycle, and then leave it unzipped so it can air dry.

Charles Vlk/Flickr

14. Patio Chair Cushions

Patio furniture can look pretty grimy after being exposed to all the elements season after season. If you’re patio cushions could use a good cleaning and your washing machine is large enough, you can wash them on a regular wash cycle with a small amount of detergent and one cup of white vinegar, and they’ll be looking as good as new in no time!