As busy parents, the idea of throwing absolutely everything in the washing machine at once is quite appealing.
And it’s possible – if you know how to do it right.
From bath mats to bath toys, and blankets to car seat covers, there are many items around your home that can be easily washed in your washing machine.
The trick to preventing damage to your clothes and household items is knowing exactly how to wash them.
Here is your complete guide to washing everything and simplifying your laundry routine:
Clothing and Outerwear
If your sweaters are made of cotton, synthetics or blends, they can be machine washed in cold or warm water on a gentle cycle with an all-purpose or mild detergent.
They can be dried on low for 5-10 minutes below laid out flat – this will help reduce wrinkles and stiffness.
Sweaters made of wool, cashmere or fine cotton should be placed in a pillowcase and washed on a delicate cycle. Skip the dryer and lay these sweaters flat to dry to prevent stretching.
Delicate knits, such as crochet or silk, need to be dry cleaned.
Button-down shirts should be completely unfastened before laundering. Otherwise, the agitation from your washing machine may cause the buttonholes to tear.
Permanent-press shirts should be spot-treated and washed and dried on the permanent-press setting on your machines.
To keep your jeans from fading, wash them in small cold-water loads with an all-purpose detergent to cut down on abrasions.
Once clean, hold them by the waistband and legs and gently stretch them before drying. This will help them keep their shape and length.
Dry on low or medium heat, since overdrying can cause unnecessary wear and tear to your jeans.
Down-filled coats can be washed in front loading washers with a mild powder detergent.
If you have a top loading washer, it’s best if you have these dry-cleaned (the agitator can compress and displace the down filling).
Children’s jackets, because they are smaller, can go in a top loading washer on a gentle cycle.
To help the coats dry thoroughly, place them in the dryer with a few clean, dry towels.
Hat and Gloves
Knit hats and gloves can be washed the same as sweaters.
Ball caps should be spot-cleaned and not placed in the washer – this can cause them to become misshapen.
Gloves with leather detailing should be washed by hand. Stiffer gloves can be dried by placing the end of a wooden spoon in one finger and setting the spoon end in a vase to help keep their shape.
Undergarments and Delicates
Most everyday bras can be put through the washing machine’s gentle cycle with an all-purpose detergent.
Any undergarments with straps and underwire should be placed in a pillowcase to avoid twisting and snagging.
Air-dry your bras to prevent damage to the underwires and straps.
Underwear should be washed in light loads to ensure they are thoroughly cleaned with a regular detergent.
Delicate items should be hand washed and items that contain spandex should be dried on low or air-dried to prevent shrinking.
Swimsuits should be rinsed well immediately after use to remove chlorine or salt water. These can cause fading and damage elasticity.
You can wash them in the washing machine but they should be air-dried for the same reason as bras.
Because infants and babies have sensitive skin, their clothing should be initially washed with a gentle detergent, preferably one designed for baby clothes.
After about six months, you can start to gradually introduce your baby’s clothes to regular detergents – just try to stick to ones that are formulated for sensitive skin.
Once your baby is about a year old, you should be able to go back to using regular detergent.
Blankets made of non-wool materials can go in the washing machine on a gentle cycle with cool water and a regular detergent. They can then be tumble dried on low or dried on a clothesline.
Blankets made of wool, dry cleaning is the best bet – especially when you don’t have the patience to wash these items by hand.
If you do choose to wash wool blankets by hand, lay them flat to dry then pop them in the dryer to fluff them up.
Many curtains need to be dry cleaned, either because of the material they are made of or because years of exposure to the sun has worn down the fabric.
If you do choose to launder your curtains, wash them separately from other items with warm or cool water on a gentle cycle with a mild detergent before air-drying.
To keep your curtains from needing regular cleaning, use your vacuum’s upholstery tool every couple of months to remove dust and debris.
Small cotton and synthetic rugs, such as bath mats and doormats, can be washed separately in cold or warm water on a gentle cycle with an all-purpose detergent.
To get a thorough cleaning and minimize wear to the rugs, use only half the recommended amount of detergent and air-dry.
Larger rugs can be cleaned with a carpet shampooer – with the exception of rugs made of wool or plant-based fibers, which should be cleaned by a professional.
Cushion covers and slipcovers can be laundered at home depending on the material they are made of – as long as the pieces have been preshrunk.
If they have, machine wash separately with cold water with regular detergent on a gentle cycle before air drying.
Covers made of delicate materials should be cleaned by an upholstery cleaner.
Toys, Gear and More
Backpacks can be washed in a front-loading machine in cold water with a regular detergent then air-dried. Top loaders are not recommended because the straps can become entangled on the agitator.
In these instances, you can hand wash the backpack and hang it up to dry.
Be mindful of multi-colored backpacks, since the colors can potentially bleed.
Car Seat Covers
Car Seat covers can become notoriously dirty and may require regular laundering.
Luckily, they can be washed in warm water. Add another ½ capful of regular detergent to ensure that ground-in soils are thoroughly cleaned out.
Dry on low for 5-10 minutes then air-dry.
Canvas and leather sneakers can be washed in cold water with an all-purpose detergent. Place them in a mesh bag to keep the laces from becoming tangled around the agitator.
Dry on low for 10 minutes and then air-dry for one day.
Cloth toys can be washed on a gentle cycle in cold water with mild detergent. Dry on low for 5 minutes before air-drying.
Bath toys, such as rubber duckies, can be washed in the washing machine as well with a regular detergent. Throw them in with a small hand towel to help remove soap scum and slime from their surfaces.
In order to keep your pet’s bed covers, collars and leashes clean, wash them on a gentle cycle with regular detergent..
Make sure you wash in small loads but set your machine to the large-load setting – this will help flush out dirt and hair from the items.
Hopefully this guide will help you simplify your laundry routine and keep the items around your home clean, happy and healthy!
Do you have any laundry tips and hacks you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!