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Unusual things you can clean in the washer

Mop heads

Stuffed animals

Small toys

Silicon trivets and oven mitts

Small rugs and mats

Bed pillows

Running shoes

​Shower curtains and liners

Canvas backpacks

Cloth lunch sacks

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 need to 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 water setting to small load, the water heat to hot or sanitize, and pop the mop head in a mesh lingerie bag. Your mop head will come out looking like new.

Caption by / Photo by Alina Bradford

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

Caption by / Photo by Dmytro Smaglov

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.

Caption by / Photo by John McCann/Brick Shakespeare

Silicon 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.

Caption by / Photo by Alina Bradford

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.

Caption by / Photo by Taylor Martin

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.

Caption by / Photo by Alina Bradford/CNET

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 make the shoes look like new.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

Caption by / Photo by Alina Bradford/CNET

I don't know how many times my kids have spilled snacks in their backpacks, but 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.

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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 can be easily cleaned by the wash cycle.

Caption by / Photo by Tom Collicott/Masterfile/Corbis
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