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by Product Expert

Modern washing machines make doing laundry easier than ever. Just sort, toss in a load, add detergent, and let the machine work its magic. However, despite the innovations of modern washing machines—even “smart” ones—there are still some things that should never go in your washer because either the item or the machine itself could be damaged.

While many of these “dirty dozen” items are common sense, a few may be surprising. Today’s post reviews some of the most common things people put through their washing machines that they absolutely should not.

Because K&A Appliance is a full-service appliance repair shop in addition to being the Lancaster area’s Scratch & Dent Giant retailer, we have seen it all! Of course, we would rather help our valued customers save money on appliance repairs and replacement by offering tips for using your laundry machines correctly. Read on to learn more!

Coins and Keys

Though small, coins and keys left in clothing pockets can cause big problems for washers. They can scratch the coating off the washing machine drum and clog the drain hose. In some cases, they’ve even cracked the glass of front-load washers. While coins can come out of the washer unscathed, electronic key fobs can be completely disabled. For this reason, checking all pockets is recommended before tossing anything in the washer.

Fancy Garments

Clothing with embellishments, like sequins, seed beads, and even metal ornaments, have been trending in recent years. Often, the fabric to which these embellishments are attached is machine washable. However, the decorations themselves can too easily break off in the washing cycle, and metal ornaments can tarnish and stain clothing. Also, the metal pieces, like coins and keys, can potentially damage the drum in your washer. Handwashing or dry-cleaning these items is best.

Rubber-Backed Mats

Not surprisingly, bathroom mats with rubber backing should never go in a dryer because the rubber will melt. It may be surprising to learn that mats with rubber backing should never be tossed in a washer either. By agitating the laundry to clean it, the washer can disintegrate the rubber over time, causing pieces of it to break off and clog the washer’s drain hose.

Bathing Suits

Did you know that bathing suits made with lycra or spandex fabrics should never be washed in the washing machine? Your washer’s agitation can stretch swimsuits, damaging their elasticity. Putting swimsuits in a mesh bag in the washer is a little better, but washing them by hand is best and keeps them looking great longer. 

Suits and Ties

Almost all suits and ties are labeled as dry clean only. This is not a suggestion. Neither of these business attire items should go in a washer, even on a delicate cycle. Tie colors are prone to run, and ties can get knotted around the agitator. Most suit fabrics will shrink in the washer, and the interfacing that gives suits their shape will disintegrate.


Sweaters made from animal fibers, like wool and cashmere, will shrink when washed in a washer, even in cold water. It may be surprising to know that a washer’s agitator can also damage cotton and acrylic sweaters. Washing all sweaters by hand is best. However, when choosing to wash a plant-based or synthetic fiber sweater in a washer, putting it in a mesh bag and using the delicate cycle will protect it from damage.

Waterproof Clothing

Items that are waterproof, like rain jackets and mattress covers, should never go in the washer because they can trap water, creating a sort of fabric water balloon, which can cause an unbalanced load during the spin cycle. Also, washing some treated fabrics in a washer can break down the waterproofing chemicals.

Sneakers and Leather

Although sneakers with leather trim can get wet, they should never go in the washer. Detergent and the washing cycle will damage leather. For this reason, leather—whether on shoes or as a garment—should be wiped clean or sent to a professional cleaner instead.

Pet Hair-Covered Items

Most homes have at least one pet, meaning most homes have pet hair. Washing pet hair-covered items—like your dog’s favorite blanket—in a load of laundry will get pet hair all over the other clothes. Plus, pet hair can clump on the drum wall and clog the drain. Therefore, before putting hair-covered clothes in the washer, it is best to remove the pet hair. Tossing hair-covered items in the dryer for a few minutes or using a lint roller are two effective methods. 

Intimates and Baby Socks

Small clothing items, like lacy underwear and baby socks, can be pulled too easily into a washer’s drain hose, clogging it. Washing machines can ruin bras if they get tangled around the agitator, too. The metal hooks on bras can also scratch the drum. The solution to washing all of these items safely is first placing them in a mesh washing bag.

Foam Pillows

Although washing pillows at least twice a year is recommended to remove dead skin cells and dust mites, foam pillows will disintegrate if tossed in a washer. Instead, foam pillows should be wiped off and never submerged in water.

Anything with Flammable Liquid Stains

When flammable liquids, like gasoline, motor oil, or paint thinner, get on clothing, those stained clothes should not go directly into the washer as that could cause a fire. Instead, before putting them in your washer, those stained clothes should be soaked in strong detergent and rinsed well.

Shopping for a New Washer or Need Appliance Repair?

When laundry accidents happen, and washers need to be repaired, you can trust the experienced technicians at K&A Appliance.

And, if it’s time to purchase a new washer or dryer instead, we’ve got the best deals in Lancaster, PA! Get in touch with us now to learn more and shop our incredible selection of laundry appliances!