15 Things You Didn't Know You Could Clean In The Washing Machine

15 Things You Didn't Know You Could Clean In The Washing Machine

Turns out your washing machine isn't just for clothes! Today we're revealing loads of surprising things you can get clean in your washing machine, and trust us, you don't want to miss them.

Don't spend time scrubbing at trainers, picking hair off of dog beds and wiping down car mats - you can get these things and much more clean in your washing machine.

Start saving time and effort today and check out the surprising list of things you can wash in your washing machine below.

1. How to wash pillows

You don't need to buy new.

We all wash our linens regularly and yet, despite popular belief, many of us never wash the inner pillows.

We sweat a surprising amount at night. Heavy perspiration seeps into pillows, creating the ideal, moist and warm environment for germs to breed. 

Fortunately, you can get your pillows clean in the washing machine. Wash them every 3-4 months, checking the care instructions before you do.

2. Shower curtains

Are your shower curtains looking a bit worse for wear?

As they rarely get a chance to dry completely, shower curtains can soon become gunky, slimy and begin to develop mould.

They can be washed by hand, but by far the easiest way to clean them is in the washing machine. Wash at 30ºC with detergent and half a cup of white vinegar to banish any lingering odours.

3. Wash lego in the washing machine

Ever worry about the germs your children are coming into contact with?

Not only can you wash lego in the dishwasher, but also in the washing machine.

Place the pieces in a mesh bag and wash at 40ºC with a very small amount of detergent.

4. You can wash (some) yoga mats in the washing machine

yoga mat
Always check the care instructions.

Tough yoga session?

You might not realise it, but yoga can be a sweaty business. Sweat will seep into the fabric, providing a warm, moist environment for germs - yuck.

Luckily, most yoga mats can be washed on a cold, gentle cycle in the washing machine. Just be sure to check with the care instructions before you try it at home.

5. The best way to wash your dog bed

Has your house developed a potent 'dog smell' that seems almost impossible to shake?

It's probably time to give the dog bed a clean, and thankfully, it's a lot easier than washing your pup - most dog beds can be thrown into the washing machine.

Wash at 60ºC with a doggy detergent and they'll come out looking and smelling lovely and fresh.

Be sure to run a rinse only cycle afterwards to remove any lingering hair.

6. Car mats can be cleaned in your washing machine too

Muddy car mats? This is also a dilemma your washing machine can solve.

All rubber backed car mats can be washed in the washing machine. We'd recommend giving them a good shakedown first to remove any excess mud and debris. Then, wash at 30ºC with your regular detergent.

Avoid washing them too frequently as the rubber will wear down over time.

7. How to clean rugs in the washing machine

Great for small rugs!

Your living room rugs might be a tall order for your comparably small washing machine, but it'll be able to take care of smaller rugs made of cotton or synthetic fibres no problem at all.

Use a gentle cycle and cold temperature along with a mild detergent. If they're rubber backed, avoid washing them this way too often.

Be sure to let them dry thoroughly before returning them to their former place.

8. Can you wash trainers in the washing machine?

Throwing your mud-covered trainers in the washing machine is always a tempting prospect. Well, we have good and bad news.

Some trainers can indeed be washed in your washing machine. A 20ºC wash with a small amount of detergent will get nylon and canvas trainers looking as good as new.

For sports trainers, however, it's best to hand-wash. The power of the washing machine can damage the fabric and also distort the insole, altering your running gait.

9. Reusable shopping bags

Reusable shopping bags can get surprisingly dirty - do you know how to clean them?

The quickest and easiest way is in the washing machine. Most bags are 100% cotton and can be washed at high temperatures along with your clothes.

If they're extra dirty, it may be worth doing a separate wash at 60ºC to remove tough stains and kill germs.

10. Clean a mop head in the washing machine

mop head
It'll be as good as new again!

Dirty floor; dirty mophead.

There's an easy and effortless way to disinfect it - throw it into the washing machine.

Place in a net bag to prevent it from getting caught anywhere, and wash at 60ºC (preferably with an anti-bacterial detergent).

Dry completely before putting away to prevent germs from forming.

11. How to clean outdoor furniture covers

Outdoor furniture covers add a dose of comfort and splash of colour to the outdoors.

Keeping them looking great can be tricky, however - ketchup stains, muddy hands and wine-spillages can soon take their toll on those Summery brights and leave them looking drab and dirty.

Luckily, outdoor furniture covers are one of the surprising things you can wash in the washing machine. Be sure to treat stains first, then pop them on a 30ºC wash with your standard detergent.

12. Clean backpacks in the washing machine

Adventures are muddy work! Now there's an easy way to get backpacks clean - in your washing machine.

Treat muddy marks using a stain-treatment (we like Vanish stain remover bar) then pop your backpacks in the washing machine.

Then follow the instructions on Mountain Warehouse to get your backpack looking spotless.

13. Dirty pet collars & leashes

muddy dog
What a mucky pup!

It's not just pet beds you can clean in the washing machine, but dirty nylon and cloth pet collars and leashes too.

The grime that collects on these over time can be tricky to remove by hand, so this is definitely a pet tip worth trying! Pop them into a mesh bag and wash at 30ºC with a mild detergent.

14. Baseball caps

Good news for you sporty types - you can also clean baseball caps in the washing machine.

It's important to use a gentle wash and cold water, especially for caps with embroidery and other detailing.

A thorough wash will remove sticky sweat stains and odours to keep your cap hygienic and fresh.

15. How to wash stuffed toys

wash stuffed toys in washing machine
He'll come out smelling amazing!

When was the last time you washed your little one's fluffy friends?

Kids take their soft toys everywhere - to bed; to the kitchen; to the toilet. Germs can be picked up from the surrounding environment and dirty hands - especially after sickness.

Persil has a wonderful guide explaining how to wash soft toys without damaging them, and it's good news - most of them can be cleaned in the washing machine.

Next, give DIY a try and learn how to disconnect a washing machine - it's a good trick to have up your sleeve! 

Are there any unexpected things you put in the washing machine? Let us know in the comments below!

Stephanie C


Lover of all things fashion & foodie...I look to satisfy my tastes without obliterating my budget. Wannabe interior designer, I'm an avid cushion cover maker and charity shop hunter.

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  1. Author Maria Stannard on April 11, 2018 at 9:39 am

    We wash our sheepskin rug in the washing machine, much cheaper than having it professionally cleaned, and it comes out lovely & clean, doesn't shrink at all as good as new once it's line dried.

    1. Author Stephanie C on April 11, 2018 at 12:48 pm

      Hi Maria, This one is definitely surprising and not something we've tried before. Thanks for the heads up - we'll definitely be giving this one a go :)

    2. Author Carole Dunn on April 11, 2018 at 5:27 pm

      I always wash my sheep skin rug in the washing machine. I was advised to wash it this way when I bought it years ago in New Zealand. Wash on a wool wash with a mild detergent add some hair conditioner to make time soft. Only line dry it pulling into shape as it drys.

    3. Author Sharon Hirst on April 11, 2018 at 8:59 pm

      Can you advise what powder/liquid you are using to wash your sheepskin rug as when I've washed mine I've found the skin becomes really dry and I end up massaging oil in to it to make it more supple

  2. Author LORRAINE CURRIE on April 11, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    How do I get clothes clean, that have been in the wardrobe for a few years and not since worn? They have pale yellow, dust-like marks, on the seams and where the hangers touch, and when I've sprayed with stain remover, and then washed them, the marks remain. I have some lovely bits, that although I haven't worn for a while, I don't want to throw away, as still plenty of wear left in them. Please advise with your most helpful tips, as always.

    1. Author Joanne A on August 22, 2018 at 12:31 pm

      Hi Lorraine! Can I ask what material the clothes are made from?

  3. Author Wendy on April 11, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    I have actually tried most of your tips!!! I have never let anything get the better of me regarding washing! It is the one household task I actually enjoy. Thanks for heads up on Sheepskin rug washing Maria, Was thinking of getting a couple when we move. Good to know we can machine wash them.

  4. Author sally smallbone on April 11, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    When washing pillows I put a safety pin in each corner to stop the pillow twisting inside the outer case

    1. Author Stephanie C on April 18, 2018 at 3:59 pm

      Hi Sally, What a fab tip - we've never heard of this one before! Thanks for sharing :)

    2. Author nusret on January 6, 2022 at 10:24 am

      that is what i wanted to know, as when you wash a pillow in the machine it becomes distorted and loses its shape, couldn't even get it back to shape even after it dried, one big mass of filling in the middle of case.

    3. Author Joanne A on January 11, 2022 at 5:24 pm

      This is the perfect tip for that!

  5. Author Chrissy on July 19, 2019 at 9:10 am

    Why always so paranoid about germs?? Nearly every article you put out is in that same breath. Fueling our epidemic of allergies and intolerances. Please just stop. Full stop. I thank you for reading.

    1. Author Joanne A on July 19, 2019 at 9:21 am

      Hi Chrissy! We shouldn't fear germs, but it's good to be aware of them. The average person might be okay with them, but for someone with a weak immune system, it's very important to keep germs to a minimum.

    2. Author Amanda Ashworth on July 19, 2019 at 11:56 am

      You really have to be careful about putting any old thing in your machines. I have broken machines doing just that.

    3. Author Joanne A on July 19, 2019 at 3:14 pm

      Hi Amanda! What did you put in your machine to cause it to break?

  6. Author Janie on July 27, 2020 at 1:10 pm

    You can also wash tennis balls in the machine. Bessie (English Springer Spaniel) likes nothing better than a good old game in the back garden, even if it's pouring with rain. Two tennis balls are needed, as if there's only one, she won't give it back. When she's tired out, if she's muddy, I have to wash and dry her legs and belly; once this is done, dirty towels and muddy tennis balls go straight in the machine, and come out pristine. Pop the tennis balls into the airing cupboard, and they dry ready for the next day.

    1. Author Joanne A on July 28, 2020 at 11:19 am

      Fab idea! Bessie sounds like a sweetie.

  7. Author Elizabeth Reid on January 6, 2022 at 12:54 pm

    How do you wash curtains

    1. Author Joanne A on March 9, 2023 at 10:32 am

      Check the care label for specific instructions, and if machine washable, remove hooks or rings and wash on a gentle cycle with a mild detergent, then air dry or tumble dry on low heat.

  8. Author susan bowden on January 6, 2022 at 3:28 pm

    To remove yellow/brown marks from clothes that haven't been worn for a while or have hung in a room with a smoker, soak in warm water with washing soda and rub well, then wash as normal. It gets most if not all of the marks out. I also have had success with dry clean only items, including curtains, by washing on a cool short wash with dissolved washing soda added to a small amount of colour washing liquid. Only do this as a last resort, though!

    1. Author Joanne A on November 17, 2022 at 1:00 pm

      Thanks for sharing!

  9. Author Jane on August 19, 2022 at 3:02 am

    Hey! Just discovered that you can actually wash sporting gear (knee pads and st*ff) in the washing machine! Maybe consider adding this? Thank you! Love this article btw!

    1. Author Joanne A on September 5, 2022 at 5:19 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Jane!

  10. Author John Westwood on April 8, 2024 at 10:25 am

    I would suggest that after washing dog beds and several other items mentioned, that you clear the washing machine filter out afterwards as it will be clogging with the hair and other detritis.

    1. Author Joanne A on April 15, 2024 at 10:05 am

      Excellent suggestion!


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