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You may be meticulous about checking your clothing labels to find out if they’re machine washable, but what about other items around the house in need of a deep clean? Your washing machine can actually be put to work on several surprising items. Check out these suggestions from marthastewart.com (but do check labels first, just in case!):

Pillows. Pillows should be cleaned every 3 – 6 months to remove bacteria and mold. Whether yours are made from natural material, like down, or synthetics, toss them in the washing machine for a thorough cleaning. Keep in mind, front-loading machines are better for pillows, which tend to float in top loaders.

Backpacks. Whether it’s crammed with books and school lunches, or been through a rugged hike or camping trip, backpacks can be returned to almost good-as-new after a cycle in the washing machine. You might want to spot test first, if you’re afraid of colors bleeding, and be sure to empty out every nook and cranny.

Shower curtain liners. You’ve probably thrown your shower curtain in the washing machine many times, but did you know you can wash your liner in there, too? According to Martha Stewart, clean vinyl, nylon, cotton or hemp liners in the washing machine with hot water and mild detergent, then simply shake it out and rehang to dry. No dryers, please!

Plush toys. Your child may not be able to part with that lovable stuffed animal he or she brings everywhere, but it can also become a breeding ground for bacteria and dirt. You’ll need to be selective, though – washing machines are not the place for toys with lots of embellishments on the outside, like buttons and bows, or mechanical parts within.

Sports equipment. Have an athlete in the house? Then you’re all too familiar with the array of malodorous equipment that comes with the territory. The good news is that a wide assortment of sports paraphernalia can be tossed in the washing machine, including shin guards, elbow pads and knee pads. Fasten Velcro straps, snap snaps and zip zippers before washing to avoid snagging on other items, and always use a cool water temperature to make sure the items don’t get disfigured.

Pet beds. Another household item that should be frequently cleaned, toss pet beds in the washing machine to do away with odors and dirt tracked in by your beloved furry family member. 

Before washing any of the above items, refer to your washing machine’s manufacturer’s guidelines. There may be special settings that will make the task that much more effective and safer for your machine. 

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