10 Things You Should Never Put in a Washing Machine

1. Anything Labeled “Dry Clean Only”

Clothing and fabrics labeled “dry clean only” should not be washed at home. The dyes, fabrics, and construction methods used on these garments require the chemical solvents used by professional dry cleaners. Putting them in your machine can cause damage, shrinking, dye transfer, and more. If you want your dry clean only items to last, take them to a professional.

2. Bras

The delicate straps, cups, and closures on bras mean they need to be washed by hand. The agitation of a washing machine can damage the wires and stretch the fabric. To clean bras properly, hand wash them in cool water with a gentle detergent. Lay flat to dry.

3. Leather, Suede, and Fur

Leather, suede, and fur should never touch water. Getting them wet can cause irreparable damage like hardening, cracking, or shrinking. Even faux versions of these fabrics don’t react well to frequent washing. For leather jackets, bags, and shoes, use specialty cleaners and gentle scrubbing to clean. Take furs to the dry cleaner.

4. Pantyhose and Tights

The constant motion inside a washing machine shreds the delicate nylon fibers in hosiery. The friction causes runs and tears. Handwash pantyhose and tights in a basin using a gentle soap. Roll them in a towel to remove excess moisture and lay flat to dry.

5. Gym Shoes and Cleats

The adhesive holding sports shoes together can deteriorate in a washing machine. The agitation and friction caused by the drum can loosen soles and damage structural components. Instead, clean gym shoes by hand with warm water, gentle detergent, and an old toothbrush. Air dry away from direct heat.

6. Decorative Pillows

Delicate silks, sequins, beads, or other embellishments on throw pillows will get caught and torn in a washing machine. The best way to clean decorative pillows is to spot treat stains immediately before they set. Check the tag before washing – some can go in the machine on a gentle cycle in a mesh bag.

7. Wooden Utensils

Letting wooden spoons, spatulas, and cutting boards soak in water can cause warping, cracking, or loosening of glue. Don’t submerge wooden kitchen tools in your washing machine. Handwash and dry them thoroughly instead. Avoid harsh detergents that can deteriorate the finish.

8. Antique Quilts and Tapestries

The historic dyes and fabrics used in antique quilts, tapestries, and other delicate textiles can’t withstand washing machine agitation. They require specialized dry cleaning. If an antique textile gets dirty, consult a fabric restoration specialist to get it cleaned safely.

9. Swimsuits and Bikinis

The thin material in swimwear is vulnerable to damage from washing machines. The straps can catch on central agitators. Chlorine and sunscreen residue will fade colors. Handwash suits in cool water with a gentle soap. Try saltwater swimming suit cleaners to refresh them after use.

10. Battery-Operated Appliances

Any appliance with batteries or an electric cord poses an electrocution risk if placed in water. Never submerge electric toothbrushes, razors, watches, heated clothing, or other battery-operated items. The batteries may also leak harmful chemicals when wet. Remove batteries before washing – and skip the machine altogether.

In Conclusion

While washing machines make light work of most laundry, certain items require more care. To avoid damage, only wash garments specifically labeled machine washable. Stick to handwashing or professional dry cleaning for delicates, antiques, leathers, furs, and anything battery operated. When in doubt, refer to the clothing tag or cleaner instructions. With some extra care, you can keep all your belongings looking their best.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you put silk in the washing machine?

No, silk is a very delicate material that should always be hand washed or dry cleaned. The agitation of a washing machine can damage silk fibers.

Can you put a wool sweater in the washing machine?

Only wash wool sweaters that specifically state they are machine washable. Other wool garments should be handwashed or taken to the dry cleaner to prevent shrinkage or felting. Always use cold water and delicate cycles.

What happens if you wash feathers?

Washing feathers destroys the natural oils that keep them fluffed. It causes the barbs to stick together and mat, causing a loss of loft and insulation. Only wash feather bedding and jackets if absolutely necessary and use a delicate cycle.

Can you put a weighted blanket in the washer?

Read the care tag first. Some weighted blanket brands approve washing on gentle/delicate cycles. Avoid agitation. Do not wash the blanket with the weights inside – remove them first. Tumble dry low.

Can I put my Apple Watch in the washing machine?

No! Never submerge any electronics like smart watches in water. It can damage circuits and the battery. Turn off and wipe the band down with a damp cloth and mild soap instead.

In summary, always check clothing labels and care instructions before machine washing items. When in doubt, defer to handwashing or professional dry cleaning for expensive, antique, electronic, or delicate items. Take extra care to prolong the life of special garments and fabrics.