Washing machines have become indispensable within our homes – just imagine going back to hand washing everything!? But that doesn’t mean that all items are safe to go in the washer. As much as it may seem easier to bundle everything into the washing machine, close the door and forget about it, in the long run you will find that lasting damage happens either to particular items or your washing machine itself.
So to stop you making some terrible mistakes, here’s a list of a few items that you definitely need to stop and think about before putting in your washing machine.
As common as it is for everyone to throw their swimwear in the washing machine, this is the surest way to cut short the life of your swimsuit or bikini. Not only will your washing machine damage straps and inner structures, but the zips or hooks of other garments in the same wash may cause snags or holes to the high-tech material. From now on, hand wash your swimwear.
CASHMERE, VELVET, WOOL & EMBELLISHED CLOTHES
Wool, cashmere, velvet and clothes with embellishments are all high risk in the washing machine. Yes, there may be some with care labels that state they can go in on a gentle cycle, but on the whole these items should be reserved for hand washing only. Anything that is heavily embellished or sequinned, or is a tailored wool or cashmere garment, should be reserved for a trip to your local dry-cleaner.
Tailored suits (that’s jackets, trousers and skirts) may be made from fabrics that are safe to put in the washing machine, but this doesn’t mean they are safe in there! The construction of a tailored suit means that there is much more to it than the eye can see. Your jacket will have interfacing between the outer layer and the lining, to help it keep its shape. This can get misshapen or even disintegrate when sent through a washing machine cycle. Your safest option is to take all of your to a dry-cleaner, that way the matching trousers or skirt will keep the same colour.
ANYTHING HEAVILY STAINED WITH FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS
Items heavily stained with flammable liquids (such as motor oil, gasoline, paint thinner and cooking oil) pose a fire risk if placed straight into the washing machine. These items should always be pre-soaked with a heavy duty detergent prior to going into your washer. This will also help reduce the chance of residue remaining in your machine that could end up all over your next load of washing. Caution: never put these items in the dryer, even after cleaning, it is not worth the fire risk.
TOP TIP: You may think you’re doing a good thing, but adding too much washing detergent or fabric softener is a big no-no for your washing machine, and your clothes. Most products these days are super concentrated, which means fabrics may end up holding onto excess detergent, and thus some dirt and odours. And because many washing machines are now highly efficient, detergent residue can build up in your machine and cause mechanical problems.
Neckties aren’t cheap, which should give you a good indication that they are also not suitable for the washing machine. Not only are many neckties made from silk, but they all have an inner structure that can get twisted when going through a washer. Hand washing is your easiest bet with these ones, but adding them to your dry-cleaning is also an option.
ITEMS COVERED IN PET HAIR
Items covered in pet hair are not your washing machine’s friend. Of course they need regular cleaning, but the majority of pet hair must be removed prior to going into your washer. Otherwise, you run the risk of clogging up the water pump filters and drain in your washing machine, especially if these items frequently go into your wash. To remove pet hair, take the item outside and give it a good brush. Alternatively, you can also pop them in your dryer for a short time with a couple of drying sheets to remove much of the hair.
LEATHER SNEAKERS & CLOTHES
Leather sneakers are not the same beast as regular joggers. Yes, your running shoes can often safely go through the washing machine, but those with any leather on them at all will most likely get damaged. This is due to the glue that’s used to put these parts together. The same goes for any leather clothing. It’s possible to recondition leather if it gets very wet, but after a spin through the washing machine this is not so. Your best option for leather garments and sneakers is to take them to a dry-cleaner that specialises in leather cleaning.
FOAM PILLOWS, CHAIR CUSHIONS & COVERS
Any solid foam pillows, chair cushions or mattress covers are 100% not designed for machine washing. There will be shreds of foam waiting for you when you go to take them out after a wash cycle. When you do want to clean these items, a warm soak in a bathtub with some gentle detergent, followed by hand squeezing out the water, is the way for you to go.