5 unexpected things you can put in a washing machine – and the hygiene benefits of doing so

From curtains to your yoga mat – home experts recommend putting these items in your washer for an effortless clean

LArge laundry room with double washer dryer by the fox group
(Image credit: Scott Davis)

It can be hard to imagine laundry day without the help of a trusty washing machine. It's the focal point of all our laundry room ideas, making life easier than it ever was for our ancestors. And while we're used to throwing everything from bedding to clothes into the washer, what if you could be putting more unusual items in, too, lightening your load further?

Indeed, the most unexpected items come out best after treatment in a washing machine. And while you may know that you can wash pillows in a washing machine,  how to wash shoes in a washing machine and how to wash a woolen blanket to keep it soft – some other items remain less explored. 

Here, we reveal 5 surprising items that come out well after a wash.

5 unexpected things you can put in a washing machine – according to experts

From stuffed animals to silicone oven mitts, these are the things that experts encourage you to clean in your washing machine. Here are the five most unexpected items to try in the washing machine and the surprising benefits of experimenting with the technique. 

White utility room with washing machine

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

1. Mop heads 

Mop heads are essential to achieving a spotless home, but what is the best way to clean the cleaner? And surely better to clean them than to throw dirty ones in the trash, only to begin the cycle again? Home cleaning expert Pulkit Damani recommends using your washing machine. 

'[They] should be washed in the washing machine for several reasons,' he says. 'First, mop heads can be quite dirty and full of bacteria. Second, mop heads can be difficult to clean by hand. Third, mop heads can shrink in the washing machine, making them last longer.'

2. Stuffed animals 

Stuffed animals may not be the first thing at the top of your laundry priority list (it's not like knowing how to wash bed sheets, after all). However, experts suggest that this child-friendly toy is prone to unhygienic habits and, therefore, you should and can wash stuffed animals in the washing machine. 

Pulkit explains that the appliance will help remove any dirt or stains on the surface of the stuffed animal, and it will kill any bacteria or germs that may be present. Plus, 'washing your stuffed animal in the washing machine will help to keep it looking its best.'

Washing machine

(Image credit: Future / © Tom Meadows)

3. Curtains

Knowing how to clean curtains can often feel like an overwhelming task, especially when you consider their size and, often, their delicate nature. However, the process doesn't need to be so difficult when done correctly in a washing machine. 

'One of the main reasons you should wash your curtains in the washing machine is to remove any dust or dirt easily that may have accumulated over time,' Pulkit says. 'Curtains can often be a breeding ground for dust mites and other allergens, so it's important to keep them clean. Washing them in the machine will also help to keep them looking fresh and new.' 

The expert adds that your washing machine can also remove any stains or marks that may have been caused by spills or other accidents.

We would, however suggest you do this with great care, looking for labels with laundry symbols on ready-made curtains; if there are none or if your curtains are heavily lined or you're not sure of the fabric's toughness, a professional steam or dry clean will be better.

4. Yoga mat

Yoga mats are prone to dirt, but the deep cleaning process doesn't need to be complex. 

'Washing your yoga mat in the washing machine is a quick and easy way to get it clean and keep it fresh,' Pulkit explains. 'Just be sure to use a gentle cycle and mild detergent, and air dry your mat afterward to prevent damage.'

laundry room with butcher block countertop

(Image credit: Rebecca Hay)

5. Oven mitts

Though it may be surprising, cloth and silicone oven Mitts are also machine washable. 

Stefan and Maegan Bucur from Rhythm of the Home recommend washing oven mitts 'just like regular clothes,' adding that silicone mitts are 'particularly safe because they are usually waterproof, stain-proof, and can resist a multitude of other types of damage.'

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.