You Probably Didn't Know The Washing Machine In Your Home Can Do This

Who knew? Those smelly sneakers, your leather handbag, a child's Pokemon toy, and even Fido's bed can all be restored by a visit to the washing machine. Your appliance is not limited to cleaning clothing. In fact, there is a surprising selection of items that can safely be washed, refreshed, and restored if you follow instructions, use appropriate settings, and take certain precautions. Some must be washed solo, while others can join your normal wash load.

Along with a conventional detergent, it is wise to have several other items on hand prior to testing the limits of your washing machine. Depending on what's to be washed, cleaning agents such as baking soda, gentle soap, disinfectants, or other sanitizers can be added. Mesh laundry or lingerie bags, pillowcases, and towels may also come in handy. Appropriate cleaning measures will protect the item, ensure a thorough cleansing, and prevent damage to your appliance at the same time. The size of the item might also determine the type of machine best suited to do the job, according to The Spruce.

For the athlete in your home

Some athletic equipment — even your gym bag — will benefit from the washing machine treatment. Sneakers are a prime example, and Apartment Therapy recommends a cool water setting to clean your kicks. Place them in a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase and do not wash with the laces attached. Spinning sneakers are apt to be noisy, so wrap them in a towel to reduce annoying banging and potential harm to your machine.

Cleaning your sports equipment every month is de rigueur, says Reader's Digest. Here is where disinfectant, stain remover, deodorizer, or baking soda might come into play. Use a laundry bag for each piece and make sure any Velcro is in the closed position. Drop the gym bag in the washing machine while you're at it. Yoga mats can also be submerged. Even a soiled baseball cap can take a spin on a cold setting, provided it is air-dried afterward. Dirtier items should ideally be washed by themselves. However, if they are in a mixed load, you might want to clean them along with towels instead of clothes. Apply the sniff test when finished and repeat the wash if necessary.

Toys, household items, and a few surprises

CNET points out that toys are a treasure trove of dirt and bacteria. They, too, can go in the washing machine. Even some delicate plush toys can safely take a spin. Do not machine wash old toys or ones with cardboard or beads inside. Use cold water so you don't melt your friend's glue and encase all toys in a laundry sack. A gentle wash cycle is imperative, and baking soda can be used in the case of detergent sensitivity.

Shower curtains and liners, backpacks, and lunch bags don't need to be hand-washed — they can all go in the washing machine. A gentle warm cycle works best. Cloth grocery bags harbor bacteria and viruses; use your washing machine to sanitize and clean. Small rugs, car floor mats, compression sleeves, and non-woven belts are other candidates. Mousepads, foam vacuum filters, and mop heads, too.

A leather handbag, surprisingly, can be washed, per Merry Maids. Substitute a quarter cup of olive-based soap instead of detergent, and make sure to remove the handbag's liner. Believe it or not, washing machines can even be used to defrost frozen foods and spin salad greens for cleaning. For every unexpected use, there are some predictable no-nos. Loose coins can do damage, some lingerie can cause problems, and you should never wash your car keys — they can harm the appliance, and the fob may short circuit. Always remember to check your pockets beforehand: No more semi-dissolved winning Lotto tickets!