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How Washing Machines Can Clean Your House

by Vaun Thygerson
Contributing writer and mother of three

For most people, their clothes washing machine is only used for just what the name implies: soiled shirts, socks, and pants. But, there are many other household items that can benefit from a sudsy spin through this household cleaning staple. KCFM wanted to give 10 unconventional items that your washing machine can handle. Before you toss these items into the wash, make sure you have a set of mesh laundry bags ready to use or an old pillowcase. And, always clean your machine with a cleaner once a month to prevent odor-causing residue from building up on your favorites. 

#1 Shower Curtains and Liners

You can wash your fabric shower curtains or their plastic liners in the washing machine to remove soap scum and mildew. Make sure to remove the rings before you toss it in and add a couple of towels to balance the load. Keep the setting on low-warm. Add a small amount of detergent and a cup of baking soda to help loosen the gunk. Once the washing machine is done, hang them back up in the bathroom to air dry. 

#2 Athletic Shoes

 Almost all canvas shoes and sneakers can go into the washing machine. Make sure to remove the laces and shake out any dirt or pebbles. Place the shoes in a mesh bag, add a few towels and detergent, and let your machine work its magic. Let your shoes air dry. Do not put them in the dryer as the heat can damage them. 

#3 Oven mitts

 Whether your oven mitts are cloth or silicone, they can go in the washer in a small load with cold or warm water and some detergent. If the oven mitts are cloth, most of them can go into the dryer, but silicone mitts should air dry. 

#4 Car Mats

 If your car mats aren’t too big and bulky, you can wash them in your machine. Before washing, give the mats a good vacuuming to remove the worst of the dirt and spot-treat any major stains. This will give your car just the refresh it needs. Wash them in warm water with the machine set on the delicate cycle. 

#5 Small Toys and Stuffed Animals 

Plastic, silicone, and plush toys can be washed in your machine. After putting select items in a mesh bag, choose the gentle cycle, cold water, and a mild detergent for best results. Make sure to add a few towels to help balance the tub. Avoid washing rubber toys, anything with small parts, or batteries. Also, let these items air dry. 

#6 Backpacks and Gym Bags

Backpacks and gym bags can become the dirtiest thing your kids own. Make sure to wash them often. First, remove the straps and place in a mesh bag or pillowcase. If they can’t be removed, turn the bag inside out to keep the straps from becoming a tangled mess. Use the gentle cycle and rinse twice. Make sure to open and unzip all pockets before washing – you never know what your child has stowed away for safe keeping. Hang up to dry. 

#7 Canvas Grocery Bags

 You should get in the habit of washing your canvas grocery bags often to keep them safe and sterile. Just turn them inside out and throw in the wash on a hot-water setting. Most of them can go directly into the dryer. Insulated bags need to be hand washed.


#8  Bed Pillows

 Get rid of those pesky dust mites by washing your bed pillows in a hot-water setting with some detergent. You can wash both down and synthetic-filled pillows. The dryer is a great place to fluff the pillow back up to its pre-wash shape. 

#9  Yoga Mats and Mouse Pads

 If your yoga mat or mouse pad is a foam pad, you can toss them into the washing machine. Choose a gentle cycle and cold water with a small amount of regular detergent. You will need to air dry these items. 

#10 Hats, Hair Ties, and Headbands

 Over time, hats, hair ties, and hairbands get covered in buildup from oil and hair products. Toss them into a small mesh bag and throw them into the washing machine. You can also safely wash almost any baseball cap, but make sure it doesn’t have a cardboard brim (most modern ones have a plastic one). Wash these items in cold water on a delicate cycle and air dry. 

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Tags: Featured Story, Food & Home, Green, Health

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