Things That Can Go in the Dishwasher or Washing Machine

3 years ago

We got a puppy this past fall. She’s adorable. And a puppy. So we have had a love/hate relationship with her at times. We love how cute, and sweet, and smart she can be. But we have hated the housebreaking, and wild energy, and puppy teething we have gone through. 

Credit Image: quinn.anya on Flickr

Perhaps the moment when I came closest to really hating her was when I sat down on the couch and noticed the unmistakable smell of dog pee. I did some sniffing around and realized it was definitely on the throw pillow on the couch. The nice one that came with the couch (of course, not on the cheap one I got on clearance). 

So at this point (if you’re still reading) you are probably wondering what the heck my new puppy has to do with a cleaning post. Well, the above mentioned pillow clearly said on the tag to surface wash only. That was clearly not going to cut it when the dog had peed on the pillow. I figured I could risk ruining the pillow by washing it in the machine because the alternative was to throw it out any way. 

And it worked. The pillow came out smelling fresh, clean, and was even fluffier than when I tossed it in there. So it got me thinking about what other things I have washed despite the tag telling me not to. 

I feel like I should add a disclaimer here, to always wash at your own risk. The first time I tried washing all of these items despite the label telling me not to was because my choices were either wash it or throw it out. So I basically had nothing to lose. That being said, here’s my list of things you really CAN wash.

In the Washing Machine
  • Pillows As I mentioned above, I washed and then dried my couch pillows. I dried them at a low temperature and put several clean tennis balls in with them to make sure the pillows didn’t get lumpy.
  • Stuffed animals. These things can get nasty, so this has been a life-saver. It definitely depends on the type of stuffing as to how well a stuffed animal will make through a washing machine cycle, but it sometimes is worth the try. I usually air dry rather than putting in the dryer, because sometimes the heat can do funky things to the “fur.” I learned this the hard way with an Elmo. Luckily they had another one exactly the same at Target.
  • Dry clean clothes. Especially if the tag states “dry clean” and not “dry clean only.” Manufacturers are only required to put one method on the tag. Most fabrics can go through a gentle cycle on the washing machine and be line dried. I would not recommend this with fabrics like silk or suede, but most cottons, blends, and polyesters will be fine.
  • Down comforters. We have a front-loading washing machine, so I would not recommend this with a traditional top-loader with an agitator. And one of the keys here is that you have to put it through the dryer with several clean tennis balls in the dryer with the comforter. This fluffs up the down feathers and keeps them from clumping together.
  • Tennis shoes. These suckers get dirty with two little boys! I would use a gentle cycle and wash them by themselves. And I have gotten better results when I allow the shoes to air dry, rather than putting them in the dryer. The dryer makes them pucker in spots and look a little funny until the stretch out again. So if you are able to go without them for a couple days, I would recommend air drying.
  • Backpacks and lunch bags. Have you ever smelled the lunch bag of an elementary schooler or the backpack of a teenager? These things are disgusting. I would recommend turning the backpack inside out before washing so the straps don’t get caught on something. And allow bags to air dry, rather than using the dryer.
In the Dishwasher
  • Baseball caps You can wash these in the washing machine, but I think the dishwasher works better. You can arrange the cap in the rack and it holds its shape much better.
  • Small plastic toys. This is great after someone has been sick. Give those toys a run through the dishwasher and de-germ them. Obviously, be careful not to put anything in with batteries. I actually learned this the hard way when I accidentally put a toy from the exersaucer in the dishwasher not realizing it made sounds. THAT was a mess.
  • Flip flops. Yep – get rid of those dirty toe marks by tossing your flip flops in the dishwasher and running them through a cycle. Come out good as new!
  • Tools. I have no idea how hammers and screwdrivers get sticky stuff on them, but they do. Especially smaller screwdrivers can just be stuck in the silverware holder of the dishwasher.
  • Hairbrushes and combs. Mine get gunk on them from hairspray and product, so once in awhile I run them through a dishwasher cycle. Gets the gunk off!
  • Shin guards, knee guards, mouth guards. That sports equipment can get pretty nasty and stinky being used by sweaty, dirty kiddos. Run it through the dishwasher to get the stink off it and get rid of any lingering germs.

Obviously, when you are washing most of these items, you want to run them through the washing machine or dishwasher alone. Especially the dishwasher items –-  please don’t wash your flip flops with your cereal bowls. And as I said before –- use caution and some common sense about what you try to wash. If it’s a priceless family heirloom, I wouldn’t risk running it through the washing machine unless that was my only, last resort and I had explored every other option. But for me, my couch pillows were worth a shot at cleaning them and if they got ruined –- oh well, I would have had to buy new ones, anyway. 

Looking for more cleaning tips and tricks? Check out my Get It Clean board on Pinterest!

What have YOU cleaned that you thought you couldn’t?

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