YOUR washing machine is tougher than you think.
And it can handle much more than clothes. Many household items you might not think of can go for a quick dip in the washing machine.
Dirt pops up where you least expect it, not just on your clothes. It can be a nuisance finding the best ways to clean these items.
But little did we know that "Many household items can also benefit from a trip through the spin cycle," says Jennifer Noonan, DIY junkie, and writer at bobvila.com.
Here's a list of 10 household items you can pop in the washing machine for a clean, dirt-free home.
1. Plastic shower curtain liners
There is really only one reason to take showers, to get clean. So, shower curtains naturally collect dirty water every time you step into them. By the time you notice, the curtains headed to the trash.
"With hard water stains, soap residue, and lingering moisture (a recipe for a mildewy disaster), a plastic shower curtain liner can get gross pretty quickly," says Noonan.
"To keep yours fresher longer, clean it regularly in the washing machine on a delicate cycle with a load of bath towels."
Running shoes go through a lot on the inside and outside. According to Fleet Feet, most high-quality running shoes should last between 300 and 500 miles—about four to six months for someone who runs 20 miles per week.
That's a lot of miles and A LOT of dirt.
Noonan says, "If your running shoes have gotten grubby, toss them in the washing machine for a refresh."
"Remove the laces and insoles first; laces can go in with the load but wash the insoles by hand," continues Noonan. "Put the sneakers in a cold-water cycle with a load of rags or towels, and let them air-dry before lacing them back up."
3. Lunch Boxes
Spilled drinks, food, and dirt throughout the day sit forgotten in your lunch boxes. Getting in and scrubbing becomes even more difficult when the smell is so potent.
But Noonan says putting the "lunch boxes in the washing machine on a cold-water cycle with a load of towels," will have the lunch boxes coming out "fresh" and ready for the day.
4. Yoga mats
Yoga mats take the brunt of your sweat during a workout, especially if you into hot yoga. If not cleaned properly, mildew begins to form and that musty smell begins to rise.
"Cleanse yours in the washing machine, along with a load of towels or sheets, in a gentle, cold-water cycle," she says.
"Remove the mat before the spin cycle, and let it air-dry before your next downward dog."
5. Baseball caps
Baseball caps carry a lot of sweat and dirt compiled throughout the day. And, are often tossed around your home like a ragdoll, spreading dirt throughout your humble abode.
"Use a gentle cycle with cold water, and wash with like colors," says the DIY junkie.
"Let them air-dry with some newspaper wadded up inside to help them keep their shape."
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6. Stuffed animals
If you have children, you know how dirty stuffed animals can get, especially if you add a dog on top of that. Drool from the kids, slobber from the dog, and dirt from the floor can create a breeding ground for germs.
Noonan's trick: "Put the toys in a pillowcase or mesh laundry bag, and throw them in along with a load of clothes of like colors. Hang to dry after the cycle is over."
Just remember that stuffed animals with music boxes and excessive sewn-on ornamentation cannot go into the washing machine.
7. Lego bricks
Legos cycle through a lot of hands (and hurt a lot of feet). The good news is that a washing machine can easily clean these germ-infested building blocks.
"Fill up a pillowcase with the bricks, and tie it tightly so that none escape," Noonan says.
"Then, wash on a cool-water cycle with other clothing. Do not put them through the dryer, of course, or they could melt. Instead, let them air-dry on a towel, and then invite some buddies over to sort them."
Remember to pull off any stickers placed on the lego as well.
8. Pet collars and leashes
Collars and leashes can be a caravan for dirt and germs. And, scrubbing them sometimes gets you nowhere.
Noonan says, "As long as there aren't a lot of studs or other ornamentation on them, non-leather pet collars and leashes can cycle through the washing machine to freshen up."
"Because collars sit so closely on our pets, choose a detergent meant for sensitive skin to guard against accidentally irritating Fido or Fifi."
After a hard days work, you just want to rest you head but you're sleeping in a pile of germs, on both sides, not just the cool side. One of the more common, but often forgotten household items, are pillows.
"Both down and synthetic pillows can benefit from a cleaning," Noonan says.
"Just throw in two at a time to keep your machine balanced, and set the wash for a warm, gentle cycle. Move the pair to a low-heat cycle in your dryer, along with a couple of dryer balls to keep them from clumping."
10. Sports equipment
Last but not least, sports equipment. Whether you're a middle-aged adult or a child, sporting equipment can get dirty. Depending on the sport, it's also hard to clean. The good news is that even the shinguards, kneepads, and elbow pads can go for a spin in the washing machine.
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"Keep stink to a minimum by throwing shin guards, kneepads and elbow pads, and all the other fabric-lined gear kids wear under their uniforms into the washing machine on a regular warm wash cycle," says Noonan.
"Afterward, hang them up on a clothesline or lay them flat outside to dry —especially those who come into close contact with your padded athlete—will thank you."
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