When it’s laundry day, what do you usually put in the washer? Sheets, towels, underwear, shirts, and pants. Always the same, right? But your washing machine can do a lot more for you than wash clothes.
If anything on this list could use a good cleaning, your washing machine can be a game changer. Here are some ideas.
Backpacks can get really filthy, especially if they spend most of the day on the floor. But don’t put a backpack in the washer until you dump out any leftover lunches, school notices, and loose change. Once it’s empty, stuff the pack into a pillowcase or laundry bag, and wash it in cold water on a delicate cycle. Then, leave it out to air dry.
2. Shower curtains
If your vinyl shower curtain or liner is looking grimy, throw it in the washing machine with a few bath towels to help scrub it clean. Use a delicate cycle, and when it’s done, hang up the curtain wet.
3. Stuffed animals
Your little one’s stuffed animals are loaded with germs. Get out your mesh laundry bag, stuff it with stuffies, and drop it in the washer. Just don’t include any animals with squeakers or loose parts.
Often, you encounter a Lego brick when you step on it in the middle of the night. Agony! Go around the house with a zippered lingerie bag and pick up every Lego piece you see. Then, wash them all in a cold cycle with kids’ clothes. When the cycle is over, the clothing can go in the dryer, but not the Legos. You’ll need to lay out them on a big bath towel, and let them air dry.
You can clean sheepskin boots in the washer. All you need is a mesh laundry bag and a little bit of clear laundry detergent. Wash your Uggs with some old towels in a delicate cycle, and leave them out overnight.
6. Sporting equipment
We asked a hockey mom with three active teenagers, and she advised us that, in addition to their uniforms, shoulder pads and other fabric pieces that attach with Velcro can go in the washer. Detach them, and wash in a Normal cycle.
7. Pet beds
Remove loose fur with a vacuum cleaner or a rubber glove first. Then, take the cover off, if possible, and pop the bed in the washing machine. You might need to wash very large dog beds at the laundromat.
8. Yoga mats
Some yoga mats are machine washable. If the manufacture’s site claims that yours is, wash it by itself, using a delicate cycle with a small amount of gentle detergent. (Using too much detergent may leave a slippery residue on the mat—dangerous when you’re doing your asanas.) Don’t let the mat go through the spin cycle. Take it out, squeeze out as much water as you can, and put it down on a bath towel.
Assuming you’ve checked the labels to make sure they’re washable, put pillows in the washing machine two at a time, to keep the washer balanced. Use gentle detergent, and select the delicate cycle. You may need to run an extra spin cycle, with foam pillows. Put the pillows in the dryer with a few dryer balls.
Lots of runners don't realize that you can clean sneakers in the washer. Brush off loose dirt, and add the kicks to the washing machine with a few old towels to help balance the load. Pour in liquid laundry detergent, and run the washer on a cold delicate cycle. Always let sneakers air dry.