16 Things You Never Knew You Could Put in the Washing Machine

Stuffed animals and small toys? Sure. Yoga mats and baseball caps? Bring them on.

Stuffed animals

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Place each stuffed animal in its own mesh laundry bag and set your machine to wash and rinse. Use cold water (warm or hot water could melt the toy's glue) and half the regular amount of detergent, advises Housewife How-Tos. Run the animals through a second rinse cycle to remove all the soap, and allow them to air dry. Fluff fur as needed. You can also use cornstarch to get stuffed animals clean.

Mop heads

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Check the label on your removable mop head to see if it can go in the washing machine—most are made to be removable for exactly this purpose. If you're using a Swiffer, give your wipes a simple hand wash to ready them for a second use. And don't miss these genius ways to reuse household items.

Oven mitts

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Add oven mitts and potholders to your load of dishtowels and washcloths. They aren't just useful for touching hot surfaces, though. Check out these other four uses of oven mitts.

Baseball caps

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Spray caps with stain remover (here are some homemade stain removal solutions) and let them sit for five minutes, suggests blogger MomCrieff. Run the hats on a short cycle using cold water. Reshape each hat and allow them to air dry.

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Sneakers

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Remove the laces from canvas or nylon sneakers and slip them into a cotton pillowcase where they won't get tangled. Take out any inner soles or padding from the sneakers and toss the shoes and pillowcase into your washer (if you're concerned about the shoes causing a racket, throw in a few towels as well). Add the regular amount of detergent, plus a dash of vinegar to deodorize (here are 95+ other household uses for vinegar). Set your machine on a cold-wash delicate cycle. Allow the shoes and shoelaces to air dry.

Small toys

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Load small toys such as Legos (by the way, have you seen this amazing Lego art?), bath-time puffers, or the ball your dog uses to play fetch into a mesh laundry bag. Run them through a cool delicate cycle to get them squeaky clean.

Pillows

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Wash pillows two at a time in a warm-water gentle cycle. To ensure you've washing out all the soap, add an extra cold-water rinse and spin, advises Good Housekeeping. To fluff things up, dry the pillows on low heat, along with a few rubber dryer balls. Here's why you should be washing your pillows way more often.

Plastic shower curtains

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Clean a plastic shower curtain with a regular amount of detergent. Add two or three bath towels for extra cleaning power. Hang to dry. Here are 3 other ways to wash your shower curtains.

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Backpacks and lunch boxes

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Open all of your backpack's pockets and check for any items that might be hidden. If there are large pieces of crumbs or debris, use your vacuum cleaner's crevice attachment to do a thorough pre-cleaning. Put your backpack into a laundry bag or pillowcase and wash it on a gentle cycle in cold water with a small amount of gentle detergent. Allow to air dry. (Here are 4 easy ways to organize your kid's backpack.)

Yoga mat

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If the care instructions on your mat don't advise against putting it in the washing machine, you most likely can. "Throw [your mat] in the washing machine once a month. No soap. Then into the dryer on medium to high heat," Lauren Imparato, founder of I.Am.You yoga in New York City, told Well+Good. You can do these energizing yoga stretches in bed.

Bath mats and small rugs

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Take the mat outside and shake it to remove any loose dirt, and then load the rug into the washing machine with a few bath towels to balance the load. Set the machine on a cold-wash delicate cycle, and add half the regular amount of detergent. Allow the mat to air dry (never put a rubber-backed mat into the dryer). Did you know your bath mat could be making you sick if it's not washed regularly?

Reusable grocery bags

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Your reusable canvas grocery bags go from the inside of your shopping cart to the trunk of your car to ... your kitchen counter. Plus, they're in close contact with your fruits and veggies. Give them the thorough cleaning they deserve. Canvas bags can go straight into the washing machine on a hot-water regular cycle with the recommended amount of detergent. Pop them right into the dryer afterward.

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Sports equipment

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Give sports gear (knee, elbow, and shoulder pads, shin guards, gloves) a good cleaning at least once a month. Close all Velcro closures to prevent them from snagging or tangling, and put them each in laundry bags and into the washing machine. Add a half amount of gentle detergent and wash on a regular cycle.

Pet beds

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Foam pet beds can be cleaned whenever you see fit. Remove the bed's outside cover and place it in the washing machine with cold water and regular detergent. To clean the foam piece, fill your bathtub halfway with warm water. Add a scoop of laundry detergent and sink the bed into the soapy water. Empty the soap water from the tub and refill with clean water. Rinse the foam out and place it in the sun to air dry. Replace the foam cover and zip it up. (Speaking of pet beds, here are 6 crazy beds for your cat!)

Gym bags

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Aside from the sweat and gunk that accumulates inside your bag, the outside is also covered in the germs the bag picks up in the locker room. Open all of your gym bag's pockets to check for any forgotten items and wash on a cold-water gentle cycle. Need some motivation to get to the gym? These gym bag accessories might just do the trick!

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