Things You're Not Cleaning in Your Washing Machine But Should Be

Learning to do your own laundry is a rite of passage, but let’s face it: almost everyone has faced a common laundry woe. Have you ever mixed your brights and whites and ended up with pink socks? Ever experienced a honey-I-shrunk-the-shorts moment? Have you ever forgotten that your wallet was still in the pocket of your jeans? We’ve all been there. There are a lot of do’s and don’ts to doing laundry, and that includes NEVER putting things like suits, ties, things with delicate lace, memory foam pillows, and anything embellished into the washer. Still, there are some surprising uses for the washing machine that not everyone is aware of. Here are a few ways you should be using your washing machine — and probably aren’t — that go beyond the usual clothing, towels and linens. 


Shower curtain liners and plastic shower curtains become mildewy over time, and when they do you can toss them into the washing machine. You’ll need to use a cool setting and throw in a few towels to help scrub the liner/shower curtain. When it’s done, simply air dry it and put it back on the shower curtain rod.

While you should never throw a foam pillow in the washer, regular pillows and cushions can go in the washer just fine. Use a gentle cycle, warm water, and mild detergent. Then air dry for best results. If you want to put it in the dryer, add some towels so the whole thing goes a little faster. This works for outdoor cushions as well.

Believe it or not, you can toss your car floor mats in the washing machine, provided they’re not too big or heavy. You can also wash rubber-backed rugs and mats, although doing this too often can cause the backing to lose some of its grip. Yoga mats also do well in the washer, but be careful not to use the spin cycle on them.

It doesn’t take long for a sponge to appear to be past its prime, but you don’t have to replace it as soon as it becomes discolored. Instead, set your machine to sanitize them using hot water and throw them in a small mesh bag. The same goes for your bath sponges. Don’t worry about destroying them — they’re designed to get wet, after all. If you don’t want to run them through your washing machine, you can stick them in your dishwasher the next time you run it.

You can wash backpacks by turning them inside out and putting them in a warm-water load. Air dry them for the best results. Of course, don’t forget to empty out all the pockets first. This also works for cloth lunch bags as well.