Surprising Things You Didn’t Know You Could Clean in the Washing Machine

You may not realize it, but your washing machine can clean way more stuff than just your clothes and sheets. Best of all, you can get a lot of household items cleaned and sanitized without spending time scrubbing them down yourself.

Just like there are little-known items you didn’t know could go in the dishwasher, there are plenty of items you may not have realized you can clean right in the washing machine. Ahead, check out some of the most surprising items that are totally safe to clean in the washing machine.

1. Car mats

Car Mat from Amazon
Lay them in the sun to dry. | Amazon

A good vacuuming will get your car mats looking good, but to restore them to like-new condition, try popping them into the washing machine. Wash in cold water on gentle and then lay them out in the sun to dry. Just be sure not to do it too often, as the rubber backs can deteriorate over time with frequent machine washing.

2. Pillows

Bed sheet and pillow on mattress
Keep your pillows fresh and clean. | iStock/Getty Images

Without proper cleaning, your pillow collects tons of dead skin cells and dust mites. Yuck! Keep it clean and fresh by machine washing at least once per season. Wash one pillow at a time with regular detergent and fabric softener if you desire. Set to sanitize and hot water on the small load setting, then fluff it in the dryer.

3. Shoes

Sports workout shoes
Clean those smelly shoes. | Grinvalds/iStock/Getty Images

If your white tennis shoes have been looking a little dirty, one easy solution is to use the washing machine to get them looking good as new again. Pro tip: Try washing your shoes with a load of towels to muffle the banging sound while they’re washing and drying.

4. Mop heads

Cleaning floor in room
Don’t spread those germs around. | Serezniy/iStock/Getty Images

After cleaning the floor, your mop head will most likely be filthy. Rather than put it away yucky, add it to the weekly wash in order to get it nice and clean again. Reusable mop heads save you a ton of money over time, and they’re better for the environment than disposable mop pads.

5. Window curtains

Denim and white curtains
Once a season is what it takes to keep them dust free. | Saklakova/iStock/Getty Images

Add this one to your quarterly cleaning list! You don’t need to wash curtains that often, but it’s a good idea to put them in the wash at least once a season (it removes dust and allergens). Read the label for washing instructions that are specific to the kind of curtains you have, just like you would with any article of clothing.

6. Stuffed animals

Young girl poorly in bad cuddling her teddy
You can safely put them in the washer. | Jojof/iStock/Getty Images

Is your little one’s teddy bear looking a little grubby? Simply throw him in with the weekly washing! Stuffed animals are difficult to spot clean, but as long as they don’t have any electronic components, you can safely clean and refresh them in your washer and dryer.

Use cold water to avoid melting any trimmings and only use half the amount of detergent as you normally would. Also, an extra rinse cycle might be necessary to get all the soap out.

7. Shower curtains and liners

You can wash them in cold water. | iStock/Getty Images

Have a little mold creeping up on your shower curtain or liner? Don’t toss it — wash it! These are usually fine to wash on cold, which is cheaper than replacing them all the time.

8. Bath mats and throw rugs

Gray and white patterned bathmat
Take care not to crack the rubber liner. | iStock/Getty Images

As long as your rug is small enough, it’s usually OK to clean it in the washing machine. Be sure to use warm water on the gentle setting since hot or cold water could potentially crack the rubber liner on bath mats.

9. Silicone kitchen accessories

Silicone oven mit
Remove food then wash them with clothes or towels. | Amazon

You can easily clean your silicone trivets and oven mitts in the washing machine. Take time to remove loose food particles first, then wash them on warm with your regular load of clothing. You can also wash them with a load of sheets and towels, if you prefer.

10. Small toys

Baby boy lying on the blanket with many toys around
Let your washer do the hard work for you.  | AGrigorjeva/iStock/Getty Images

All you need is a mesh laundry bag to get your kids’ toys cleaned and sanitized right in the washing machine! Rather than hand scrubbing in the sink or tub, let your washing machine do the work for you. Simply set the cycle to hot, and let it run. Pretty much any waterproof toy is safe to put in the washing machine, as long as it’s properly contained in a washable bag.

11. Baseball hats

Yankees baseball hat
They definitely get dirty. | Amazon

Between sweat, dirt, and rain, baseball hats can get pretty dirty, especially if you wear them all the time. Wash your hat with regular detergent and cold water and allow it to air dry. Just don’t put your cap in the dryer — it could shrink.

12. Backpacks and lunch boxes

Keep their school things clean. | Amazon

By mid-school year, kids’ backpacks can start looking fairly dirty. But you can restore them to good as new right in the washing machine! Before washing, be sure to empty all the pockets and shake out all the crumbs. Clean up dirty backpacks and lunch boxes on gentle in cold water with gentle detergent. Air dry or put them on the gentle cycle in the dryer.

13. Yoga mats

Young woman folding blue yoga mat
Give that mat some love. | Fizkes/iStock/Getty Images

As long as it doesn’t explicitly say not to, you can probably wash your yoga mat (without soap) right in the washing machine. Wash it alone and then dry it in the dryer on medium heat.

14. Bags of all kinds

four reusable shopping bags filled with grocereis
Wash those bags after you use them. | iStock/Getty Images

Reusable shopping bags, hand bags, beach bags, totes, diaper bags — you can clean lots of different types of bags in the washing machine. Read the care instructions the same way you would with any article of clothing, then feel free to wash away as long as the label says it’s safe. (Usually cold or warm water is your best bet here.)

Be sure to secure all Velcro and straps so they don’t stick to other clothing. Or, better yet, wash them without any other items if you can.

15. Sports equipment

Wash those smelly shin guards. | Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Shin guards and elbow pads can get pretty gross quickly — especially after a big game. Clean them thoroughly in a laundry bag right in the washing machine. Use the gentle cycle and half as much soap as you normally do.

16. Pet beds

Tan dog bed with dog
Clean the cover in the washer. | Amazon

Dogs shed skin cells and hair just like people do, so your pet’s favorite resting place can get pretty dirty over time. If your pet bed has a removable cover, take it off and clean it in the washing machine the same way you would with sheets and other bedding.

To wash the foam insert, Reader’s Digest recommends filling your bathtub half full with warm water and adding a scoop of detergent. Let it soak and then rinse with clean water and air dry outside.

17. Pet collars and leashes

orange dog collar
It’s super easy to clean a collar. | Amazon

If your puppy plays a lot outside, he probably gets a fair amount of dirt on his collar and leash. But don’t worry — these items are super easy to clean in the washing machine. Just add them to your regular load whenever you notice them looking (or smelling) a little dingy.