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No need to hand wash

Your washing machine can do so much more than just wash clothes. There are many household items that you can throw in the washer instead of cleaning them by hand.

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Mop heads

Mop heads should be cleaned after every use, but if you're like me, getting hands-on seems gross. Instead, I clean and sanitize mop heads in the washer. 

Set the washer to small load and hot or sanitize. Then, pop the mop head in a mesh lingerie bag and throw it in with your normal laundry detergent. It will come out looking like new.

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Bath sponges

You can clean your bath sponges, like loofahs, just like mop heads. This will get rid of soap scum and built-up skin flakes.

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Kitchen sponges

Kitchen sponges can also go in the washer. Set the machine to sanitize (or use the hot water setting) and run a quick wash.

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Stuffed animals

If you have kids, this tip is a must. Put dirty stuffed animals in mesh bags and wash them using a gentle setting to get rid of germs, bacteria and other nasties. 

Just check the label of the stuffed animal to see if it can be machine washed. If it has foam beads inside, glued-on details or is old, don't wash it.

If your tot is sensitive to cleaning ingredients, use a cup of baking soda instead of laundry detergent. 

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Smart plush

If the plushies have voice boxes or other tech, skip the washer and try this tip.  

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Small toys

This may sound crazy, but it's true. You can clean small toys in the wash, no problem. Put them in a mesh bag and set your washer to sanitize. The toys will be grime- and germ-free.

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Silicon trivets and oven mitts

Silicone trivets and oven mitts can be tossed in with your regular loads, as long as they're not too dirty. All they need is a warm wash cycle. 

If putting them in with clothing worries you, put them in with a load of towels.

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Small rugs and mats

Bathroom rugs and small rugs can be washed in the washer, but you need to be careful about your settings. Always use warm water and a gentle cycle. Cold or hot water can make them shrink or can crack the rubber liner on bath mats. 

Bonus tip: Before you put your rug back down, secure it to the floor with Velcro to prevent slipping hazards.

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Car floor mats

Like indoor rugs, you can also wash car floor mats in the washer. Make sure to dust them off the best you can outside, pretreat any stains and then wash them in warm water on the gentle cycle. 

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Bed pillows

Bed pillows gather dust, dead skin cells and dust mites. To sanitize them, put one pillow in the washer with fabric softener and your regular detergent. 

Use the sanitize mode or set the water temperature to hot and switch to the small load setting. This trick works with both down and synthetic pillows. 

Afterwards, fluff your pillow in the dryer.

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Chair pillows

Small chair and couch pillows can be cleaned the same way as your bed pillows.

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Couch cushion covers

If the cushions on your couch have zippers, the covers can be thrown in the washing machine. 

Here's some tips to get them looking fresh again.

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Dog beds

Almost all dog beds can be washed like pillows. If it feels like it has cardboard inside to make the bottom stiff, though, skip the washer. Scrub it with an antibacterial wipe instead. 

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Down or down-alternative comforter

Just shoving your down or down-alternative comforter in the washer is a no-no. You probably know that. 

With a little planning, though, you can still use your washer to get it clean. Molly Price has the details here.

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Running shoes

The next time you do a load of towels, throw in your sneakers. 

The towels muffle the noise that shoes can make in the washer and the warm water setting makes the shoes look like new. Here's a complete guide to washing shoes in the washer.

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​Shower curtains and liners

There's no need to toss a gunky shower curtain or liner. I put mine in the washer. Make sure to use warm water since cold can make plastic curtains and liners crack and rip and choose a small load setting to save water. Here are five tips to make sure your curtain comes out extra clean.

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You can wash window curtains in the washer, too. 

Rayon, cotton and polyester curtains can be washed on the gentle cycle with warm water and your regular detergent. 

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I don't know how many times my kids have spilled snacks in their backpacks, but know I can't count the amount on both hands. 

To get their backpacks like new, I simply turn them inside out and put them in with a warm water load and then air dry.

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Cloth lunch sacks

Don't stop at washing backpacks. Cloth lunch bags and sacks can be thrown in the same warm water load. 

Just turn them inside out so that the grimiest area (the inside) can get clean.

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Reusable shopping bags

Ditto for cloth shopping bags. When they get a little grimy, toss them in a warm water load.

If they are 100 percent cotton, you can toss them in the dryer. Otherwise, air dry.

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Yoga mats

If your yoga mat is looking a little dingy, you can give it a quick wash on the gentle cycle with warm water and your regular detergent. 

Just be sure to skip the spin cycle and be sure to air dry the mat.

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Baseball caps

My mom has been washing baseball caps in the washer for decades. You just need to make sure you use cold water and the gentle cycle. Air dry only.

Also, place it in a hat rack that will help it keep its shape. 

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Woven belts (not leather) are fine to add to a normal load of laundry. Make sure to put it in a mesh wash bag so the metal hardware doesn't damage your machine.

Always air dry.

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Mouse pad

Your computer keyboard is the dirtiest thing in your home, so imagine how dirty your mousepad gets. 

You can toss foam mousepads in a load set on the gentle cycle with warm water. Let it air dry.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
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