I’m a cleaning expert – here’s everything you can put in the washing machine to clean from lunch boxes to shower curtains

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YOUR washing machine is tougher than you think.

And it can support more than clothes. Many household items that you may not think of can be thrown into the washing machine quickly.

Washing machines can clean multiple household items

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Washing machines can clean multiple household itemsCredit: Getty

Dirt shows up where you least expect it, not just on your clothes. It can be tedious to figure out 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 DIY addict and bobvila.com writer Jennifer Noonan.

Here is a list of 10 household items you can put in the washing machine for a clean, dirt-free home.

1. Plastic shower curtain liners

Shower curtains collect dirt and soapy water leading to mildew

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Shower curtains collect dirt and soapy water leading to mildewCredit: Getty

There’s really only one reason to take showers, to wash. So the shower curtains naturally collect dirty water every time you step into them. The moment you notice, the curtains have moved towards the trash can.

“With hard water stains, soap scum, and lingering dampness (a recipe for mold disaster), a plastic shower curtain liner can get gross pretty quickly,” says Noonan.

“To keep yours fresher for longer, wash it regularly in the washing machine on a gentle cycle with a load of bath towels.”

2. Sneakers

Running shoes go through a lot indoors and outdoors. According to Fleet Feet, most high-quality running shoes should last between 300 and 500 miles, or about four to six months for someone running 20 miles a week.

That’s a lot of miles and a LOT of dirt.

Noonan says, “If your running shoes have gotten dirty, throw them in the washing machine to freshen them up.”

“Remove the laces and insoles first; the laces may come 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 relacing them.”

3. Lunch boxes

Drinks, food and dirt spilled throughout the day are forgotten in your lunch boxes. Getting in and scrubbing becomes even more difficult when the scent is so powerful.

But Noonan says putting the “lunch boxes in the washing machine on a cold water cycle with a load of towels,” will cause the lunch boxes to come out “fresh” and ready for the day.

4. Yoga mat

Yoga mats are often not cleaned after workouts

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Yoga mats are often not cleaned after workoutsCredit: Getty – Contributor

Yoga mats absorb most of your sweat during a workout, especially if you like hot yoga. If it’s not cleaned properly, mold starts to form and that musty smell starts to rise.

“Wash yours in the washing machine, with a load of towels or sheets, on a gentle cycle in cold water,” she says.

“Remove the rug before the spin cycle and let it air dry before your next dog down.”

5. Baseball Caps

Baseball caps carry a lot of sweat and dirt accumulated throughout the day. And, are often tossed around your home like a rag doll, spreading dirt throughout your humble abode.

“Use a gentle cycle with cold water and wash with like colors,” says the handyman.

“Let them air dry with newspaper inside to help them hold their shape.”

6. Stuffed Animals

If you have kids, you know how messy stuffed animals can get, especially if you add an extra dog. Children’s drool, dog drool and dirt from the floor can create a breeding ground for germs.

Noonan’s tip: “Put the toys in a pillowcase or mesh laundry bag, and throw them in with a load of similarly colored clothes. Hang to dry when the cycle is done.”

Remember that stuffed animals with music boxes and excessive stitched ornaments cannot go in the washing machine.

7. Lego Bricks

Fill a pillowcase with the bricks and tie it tightly so none slip out

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Fill a pillowcase with the bricks and tie it tightly so none slip outCredit: Getty – Contributor

Legos go through a lot of hands (and hurt your feet). The good news is that a washing machine can easily clean those germ-infested building blocks.

“Fill a pillowcase with the bricks and tie it tightly so none slip out,” says Noonan.

“Then wash on a cold water cycle with other clothes. Don’t put them in the dryer, of course, or they might melt. Instead, let them air dry on a towel. , then invite some buddies to sort them out.”

Remember to also remove any stickers placed on the lego.

8. Pet Collars and Leashes

Collars and leashes can be a caravan for dirt and germs. And, rubbing them sometimes gets you nowhere.

Noonan says, “As long as there aren’t a lot of studs or other ornaments on them, non-leather pet collars and leashes can go through the washing machine to freshen up.”

“Because collars are so close to our pets, choose a detergent meant for sensitive skin to avoid accidentally irritating Fido or Fifi.”

9. Pillows

After a hard day’s work, you just want to rest your head, but you’re sleeping in a pile of germs, on both sides, not just the cool side. One of the most common, yet often overlooked, household items are pillows.

“Down and synthetic pillows can benefit from cleaning,” says Noonan.

“Just throw in two at a time to keep your machine balanced and set the wash on a warm, gentle cycle. Move the pair to a low heat cycle in your dryer, along with a few dryer balls for prevent them from clumping together.

10. Sports Equipment

Finally, sports equipment. Whether you’re a middle-aged adult or a child, sports equipment can get dirty. Depending on the sport, it is also difficult to clean. The good news is that even shin guards, knee pads and elbow pads are machine washable.

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“Keep the stench to a minimum by tossing shin guards, knee and elbow pads, and any other fabric-lined gear that kids wear under their uniforms in the washing machine on a regular hot wash cycle” , explains Noonan.

“Then hang them on a clothesline or lay them flat outside to dry — especially the ones that come in close contact with your padded athlete — will thank you.”

Beautiful young woman is smiling while doing laundry at home.

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Beautiful young woman is smiling while doing laundry at home.Credit: Getty

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