All Washed Up
Though we primarily use our washing machines to clean our clothes, many household items can also benefit from a trip through the spin cycle. Click through for 10 surprising items that you can stuff in the washer to de-funk on laundry day.
Plastic Shower Curtain Liners
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. To keep yours fresher longer, clean it regularly in the washing machine on a delicate cycle with a load of bath towels.
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. 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.
Those insulated lunch boxes you pack for your kids take a lot of rough treatment. Even worse, spilled drinks and loosely sealed thermoses leave sticky, smelly messes to clean up. Put lunch boxes in the washing machine on a cold-water cycle with a load of towels, and they will come out fresh and ready for the next trip to school.
A stinky yoga mat certainly will not help you transcend to a peaceful place. Cleanse yours in the washing machine, along with a load of towels or sheets, in a gentle, cold-water cycle. Remove the mat before the spin cycle, and let it air-dry before your next downward dog.
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Better-quality baseball hats and caps with good stitching and plastic brims can be washed in the washing machine. Use a gentle cycle with cold water, and wash with like colors. Let them air-dry with some newspaper wadded up inside to help them keep their shape.
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Parents know how kids' most treasured items can get seriously grimy. While care tags often specify not to run plush toys through the wash, you can get away with it and clean them up significantly—as long as the stuffed animals have neither music boxes nor excessive sewn-on ornamentation. Here's the 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.
Fingerprint- and germ-covered Lego bricks can be washed successfully in the washing machine if you leave out the ones with stickers or paint. Fill up a pillowcase with the bricks, and tie it tightly so that none escape. 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.
Pet Collars and Leashes
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.
Believe it or not, you can—and should—wash most pillows in the washing machine. Both down and synthetic pillows can benefit from a cleaning. 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.
The sporting life is as sweaty as it is fun. 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. Afterward, hang them up on a clothesline or lay them flat outside to dry. Everyone—especially those who come into close contact with your padded athlete—will thank you.
If you're interested in more cleaning tips, consider:
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