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10 Things You Should Never Put In Your Washing Machine

October 18, 2023

Doing the laundry is easy when you have a washing machine. Just throw in your clothes, add some detergent, and off you go. If anything, you have complete control over the washing process – from the water temperature to cycle time. All you have to do is press a few buttons.

Most modern washers are also energy-efficient, meaning you won’t have to spend an arm and a leg on your utility bill to wash your clothes. Not only that but it also lets you wash more clothes at once compared to hand washing. And if you toss everything in the dryer afterward, you’ll save even more time.

As great as these machines are, however, they’re not compatible with everything. For example, certain garments should never be put in the washer as they can get damaged during the wash cycle.

What else shouldn’t you put in the washing machine? What are the reasons for it? For the answers, be sure to keep reading!

10 Things That Don’t Belong in the Washing Machine

Without further ado, here are some things that you want to avoid putting in your laundry machine.

1. Metal Objects

coins in pocket

Metal objects should never be put in the washing machine- no matter their size. Coins are one example. These tiny pieces of metal might seem harmless but they can wreck havoc on your washing machine. More specifically, they can damage the inner drum and clog the drain hose, both of which can be expensive to fix.

That’s why it’s so important to check your pant and jacket pockets before throwing them in the washer. The last thing that you want to do is accidentally wash your coins with your clothes.

The same goes for keys – make sure they’re not left in the pockets. Just like coins, they can get stuck in the valves and filters. Or worse, if you have an electric car, the water can cause the keys to malfunction or short-circuit.

2. Running Shoes

It’s best not to machine wash your running shoes. They’ll get thrown around during the wash cycle, which can cause irreversible damage to the inner drum. Not only that but the mud from the soles can also clog the drain. What’s worse, is that the heat from the wash cycle can melt away the adhesives and damage the fabric.

Depending on the material, the shoes may even shrink in the wash. Given that, it’s best to wash them by hand with some soap and a soft bristle brush. This is especially true for those with leather trims as washing will strip away its natural oils.

If anything, the only exception is if the shoes are specifically designed by the manufacturer to be machine washable.

3. Items Covered with Pet Hair

pet hair

Items that are covered with pet hair, whether it’s your clothes or your dog’s bed, should never be tossed in the washing machine, and for good reason – the hair can easily clog the drains and water pump filters, just like they would a shower drain or bathroom sink. They can also stick to the sides of the machine and transfer onto your other items.

Fortunately, there’s an easy fix. Just use a lint roller on the item to remove the hair (or as much of it as possible) before putting it in the washer. Alternatively, you can throw them in the dryer (assuming that the item can be tumbled dry) on air only or low heat with a couple of dryer sheets for 10 to 15 minutes.

That’ll help get rid of most of the hair so that you can machine wash them safely.

4. Clothes with Flammable Stains

Don’t put your clothes in the washing machine if they’re stained with a highly flammable compound such as alcohol, paint thinner, gasoline, or even cooking oil. If you’re not careful, it can easily cause a fire in the washer.

What you want to do instead, is presoak the stained item in a plastic tub or sink with some detergent for a couple of hours. From there, give it a good rinse with water. If the stain is completely gone, you can proceed to launder them as normal. Otherwise, it’s best to continue washing by hand.

Alternatively, you can use a solvent-based stain remover or an ultrasonic cleaning machine – the latter is specifically designed to remove tough stains with high-frequency sound waves.

5. Lingerie

It might seem convenient putting your lingerie in the washing machine but it can be a disaster waiting to happen. Take underwire bras, for example, the wires can easily bend out of shape during the wash cycle. In some cases, they can even hook onto your other clothes, ripping them apart.

There’s also a chance that the wires can damage the internal parts of the washing machine. Any lace that’s on the item can also get damaged (many detergents contain harmful chemicals that are too harsh for the delicate fabrics used in lingerie).

If you must run them through the washer, put them in a protective mesh bag so that they won’t get caught on your other clothes.

6. Certain Swimwear


Swimwear may be designed to be in the water but that doesn’t mean you can put them in the washing machine. For one thing, the agitation of the washer can easily damage the straps and inner fabric.

Not only that but it can also stretch out the nylon material, which will ruin the fit. This is especially true if you’re washing with warm or hot water.

Swimsuits with hooks and zippers are especially tricky as they can easily snag on other items or themselves during the wash cycle. That’s why it’s best to leave your swimwear out of the washer and wash them by hand instead.

Before you actually wash it though, give it a good rinse with cold to lukewarm water. Soak it if you can. That’ll help get rid of any oils, chlorine, or sunscreen that’s left on the fabric. From there, turn your swimsuit inside out and wash it with some gentle laundry detergent. It’s also a good idea to let it sit in soapy water for a few minutes before rinsing.

7. Neck Ties

Accidentally spill some wine on your necktie? Don’t worry, you can easily get the stain out – just don’t put it in a washing machine.

This has to do with the fact that they’re made with delicate fabrics such as silk. Some ties may even have detailed embroidery or stitching, which can become damaged if you toss them in the washer. Not only that but the tie itself can become misshapen or twisted in the washer.

Rather than putting them in the laundry machine, spot-treat them with a bit of mild detergent. You can also use an ultrasonic cleaner to remove the stain.

8. Solid Foam Pillows

Items made of solid foam, including memory foam pillows, are not machine washable. The way they’re designed, they have an open-cell structure and if you soak it in water, the foam will turn into a soggy mess.

There’s also a chance that it’ll disintegrate into tiny pieces if you run it through a normal wash cycle. The machine’s agitator is simply too much for the foam material.

To keep them clean, it’s best to wash them with a gentle detergent in a bathtub of water. Just make sure to squeeze out all of the soapy water and give it a good rinse afterward. You can also spot-clean the item with the detergent.

9. Tailored Suits


Tailored slacks, jackets, and shirts, should never be put in a washing machine, even if the outer fabric is polyester, cotton, or another machine-washable material.

Why? There are interfacings between the inner and outer layers that provide the suit with its crisp shape and if you expose it to water, as is the case with machine washing, it’ll become deformed. In some cases, it can even disintegrate altogether.

Not only that but there’s also a chance that the suit can shrink or tear – even if you use the delicate setting on your washer.

So instead of machine washing them at home, take them to the dry cleaners. They’ll have the expertise and tools to clean your suit without damaging the fabric. You can, however, use a steam cleaner to safely get rid of wrinkles.

10. Too Much Detergent

Adding too much detergent can actually do more harm than good. For one thing, it’ll coat your clothes with a soapy film that you won’t be able to rinse off, and that can lead to skin irritation or even allergic reactions.

That’s not all, the excess detergent will also attract dirt, dust, and grime, and potentially make your clothes dirtier than before. On top of all that, it can wreak havoc on your washing machine. For example, it’s not uncommon for detergent residue to build up on the interior walls, and that can lead to odors and other issues.

That’s why it’s so important to follow the instructions on the packaging when it comes to measuring laundry detergent. Cleaning your washing machine regularly is also crucial for removing detergent buildup and other grime. For that, we recommend ACTIVE Washing Machine Cleaner for a simple and highly effective solution.

And there you have it – 10 things that you should never put in your washing machine. As you can see, it’s not just a matter of damaging your items, certain things can harm your washer as well and that can be pricey to fix.

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Picture of Ethan Clarke

Ethan Clarke

Ethan Clarke is a seasoned expert in appliances and household waste systems. Referencing his extensive experience as an appliance repairman, Ethan shares his invaluable knowledge through detailed maintenance & troubleshooting manuals. Ethan’s insights help homeowners understand and maintain their appliances efficiently, ensuring longevity and optimal performance. He’s here to provide practical, easy-to-follow advice for all your appliance needs.

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