Speed Clean with a Washing Machine

Studio 5 Contributor Kathleen Alder shares a list of tips for cleaning uncommon items in the washing machine.



• Wash all kinds of gloves. (Winter and gardening gloves especially)

o To dry gloves after washing, air-dry them by inserting a wooden spoon handle in one finger and standing it in a bottle.

o Wash leather gloves in the washer but put them on to reshape them and then dry them with a wooden spoon handle in one finger. Be sure to test the dye to determine if it will bleed and fade.

• Large adult coats are best washed in a front loader, Children’s coats can be washed in a top loader because they are smaller.

• Sweaters that are cotton or made of blends can be washed on a gentle cycle with mild detergents. Dry for 5-10 minutes in the dryer to release most of the wrinkles. Pull out and lay flat to finish drying.

• Always wash wool sweaters in cold water on the gentle cycle in a zippered pillowcase. Lay flat to dry on a towel.

• Wash jeans in small batches, in cold water with all purpose detergent to minimize shrinking and fading. Turn them inside out to protect the color as they are surface dyed and the color rubs off easily.

• Jeans usually shrink in length. To combat shrinkage, gently stretch the legs while they are wet and then put in the dryer. Do not over dry. Take them out of the dryer when the seams and waistband are still wet.

Underwear and Delicates

• Most lingerie can be put in the washer on the gentle cycle with a mild detergent. Use a zippered mesh bag to keep them separate and protected.

• Air dry bras and spandex items.

• Do not use chlorine bleach, use an oxygen type bleach for heavily soiled lingerie.

• Blood stains should be treated immediately by putting hydrogen peroxide in the stain and then rinsing with cold water before washing.

• Blood stains that cannot be treated right away should be treated with ERA laundry detergent and washed in the washer. ERA has special enzymes in it to break down the blood.

• Make your swim suits last longer by soaking them in a bucket of water with a few drops of chlorine remover before you wash them. Buy chlorine remover in the fish tank supplies.

Household Items

• Shower curtains (plastic and cloth) can be washed in a gentle cycle in warm water with a regular detergent. If mold is a problem, a small amount of bleach will kill and remove the mold.

• Plastic curtains should be washed with a couple of towels to help scrub it clean. Be sure to rinse with warm water and take them out before they cool to help the wrinkles fall out.

• Pillow and slip covers can be washed if you are certain that they are colorfast and made of linen, cotton or a synthetic fabric. (Check with the manufacturer or sales person.) Do not dry completely. Slip it back on the form to finish drying.

• Cotton rugs without the rubber backing can be washed in the washer.

• Rubber backed rugs can be washed in the washer but it does shorten the life span. They can be cleaned with carpet spot cleaners in between washings as the rubber backing will get brittle after washing.

• Some curtains can be washed. Check the labels. If they are washable, wash on a gentle cycle with mild detergent, dry small batches for 10-15 min. in the dryer. Remove and iron right away while damp to eliminate wrinkles.

Other Stuff

• Car seats covers and high chair cushions can be washed on the gentle cycle with a mild soap. Put in the dryer for 10-15 min and then air dry. You may want to put it back on the chair to finish drying to keep the shape.

• Imagine how dirty those purses and tote bags get when you put them on the floor and who knows where. Zip up all the zippers and snap all the fasteners to minimize damage. Wash them on a gentle cycle with mild soap. Reshape and air dry.

• Small toys that go in multiple children’s mouths can be washed in a mesh bag with the regular wash. The mesh bag protects the toys and keeps the pieces from scattering throughout the wash.

• Baseball caps and other cotton hats can be washed in the washer. There are special forms to prevent misshaping. Pre-treat hat bands with shampoo. You can also wash hats in the dishwasher.

• Keep your hot pads and kitchen sponges clean by washing them in the washer. Put them in a mesh bag to keep them contained.

• When you wash your pet accessories, (beds, collars and leashes) wash small batches but use a big load setting so that you can flush out all dirt and pet hair. Dry on a gentle setting.

• Tennis shoes come out clean and white when washed in the washer. Air dry.

• Even leather children’s shoes can be washed in the washer. Gentle cycle with mild soaps. Reshape and air dry.

Dishwasher Cleaning

• Large odd shaped toys can be washed in the dishwasher on a regular cycle.

• Baseball caps clean up very well in the dishwasher on a regular cycle.

• Make your glass light fixtures sparkle by loading them in the dishwasher and running them through a cycle.

• Vases and knick-knacks come out clean and sparkling after a session in the dishwasher.

• Wash your kitchen brushes and scrubbers in the dishwasher to keep them clean.

General Laundry Tips

• Ritz dye remover will take out colors that have faded on to other clothes. (Remember that red sock that got in with the underwear?)

• Put a small amount of fabric softener on an old hand towel and throw it in the dryer instead of a dryer sheet.

• Put tennis balls (2-3) in the dryer to keep the clothes fluffed up. It works really well on pillows and quilts.

• Hydrogen peroxide removes blood.

• Hair spray or alcohol removes ink stains. Spray just before throwing in the washer.

• Use the sun to bleach stains that won’t come out otherwise. Wet the item and lay it in the sun. Bring the item in when it is dry to prevent fading. A small amount of lemon juice will also hasten the stain removal.

• Goo Gone takes out lipstick, grease and gum. Treat just before laundering.

• Juice Out! (found at a janitorial supply) takes out artificial dye stains.

• Give each of the children a zippered mesh bag and have them put all their socks in to keep from having to sort all the socks.

• Dishwasher detergent works well on baby clothes with food stains on them.

• Unbutton all buttons on shirts and pants to prevent wear and tear as they are washed.

• Pre-treat all collars with shampoo every time they are laundered.

• Spot clean all spots and stains with a mixture of water and liquid detergent.

• Use a soft toothbrush to scrub stains out.


For answers to your common cleaning questions,
plus a guide to home laundering and dry cleaning symbols, go to:


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