10 things you should never put in a washing machine

From silk to pet hair, never wash these items in your washing machine!

Things to never put in a washing machine
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The best washing machines are one of the most essential appliances in your home. From tackling stains to freshening your bedding and clothes, washing machines or the best washer dryers are quick, efficient and save you time, money and energy.

To get the best cleaning results every time and to keep your appliance in top condition, there are a few items you shouldn’t be putting in your washing machine. We’ve all been guilty of spilling food on something and immediately throwing it in the wash but this can cause damage to the inner workings of your machine and ruin your clothing.

Before you do your next wash, make sure these 10 things aren’t going in your washing machine! For more washer dryer tips, check out how to clean a washing machine to prolong the life of your appliance.

1. Wool & cashmere

Things to never put in a washing machine: Wool

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Starting off strong, you should never put wool or cashmere in your washing machine. Wool and cashmere are delicate fabrics and can’t stand the high temperatures of your washing machine. The material can appear pilled, worn, misshapen and shrink from just one wash, so make sure you check the labels before you clean anything. In general, the best way to clean wool or cashmere items is to hand wash using cold water. Following the label instructions, you should submerge, soak, drain and rinse your wool clothes to remove stains and give them a fresh smell. Remember to avoid ringing your clothes so you don’t stretch the fabric.

2. Silk

Things to never put in a washing machine: Silk

(Image credit: Anete Lusina / Pexels)

Silk is another delicate fabric that should avoid your washing machine at all costs. There’s much debate on whether you should or shouldn’t wash silk in a washing machine but to err on the side of caution, it’s better that you don’t. The main reason is that silk can easily snag, especially against other fabrics in the same wash. Some silk clothing can withstand the heat and pressure of a washing machine but cleaning experts recommend hand washing your silk or taking it to the dry cleaners.

3. Velvet

Things to never put in a washing machine: Velvet

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Whether you’re washing a velvet top or velvet sofa cushions, you should try to keep it out of your washing machine. Velvet’s unique texture and look can be ruined in a washing machine as the tumbling around can damage the fibres. Pure velvet needs to be dry cleaned whereas polyester or crushed velvet can withstand a cycle in a washing machine. However, there are many caveats to this in that velvet needs to be washed in cold water, on a gentle cycle and with gentle detergent without fabric softeners. To avoid any faff or wasting a wash on a couple of velvet items, stick to hand washing in cold water.

4. Lace

Things to never put in a washing machine: Lace

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Lace or anything embroidered is a big no-no when it comes to washing machines. Lace can be easily ripped or torn inside a washing machine, mainly because it comes into contact with other materials and clothing with zips and buttons. Embroidered clothing or bedding, as well as beaded or sequined items can have their intricate detailing destroyed in a washing machine, especially if the embellishments are glued on. As always, make sure to read the label for cleaning instructions and if all else fails, take your lace to the dry cleaners.

5. Leather

Things to never put in a washing machine: Leather

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Leather is another material that should never go in a washing machine or be soaked in water. Regardless of whether you own real, faux or plant-based leather, leather doesn’t fare well when washed in water and can shrink. If you need to clean your leather jacket or bag, wipe it down with a baby wipe or take it to the dry cleaners for expert help.

6. Lingerie & swimwear

Things to never put in a washing machine: Swimwear

(Image credit: Hana Brannigan / Pexels)

Next, you shouldn’t be putting your lingerie or swimwear in a washing machine. Most lingerie has embellishments which can’t withstand a washing machine. To be more specific, bras have a terrible time in a washer, as the cycle can misshape the bra and damage the underwire. Additionally, bras can affect other items of clothing and the inside of the machine if the clasps get stuck. This is also the case with swimwear, as the vigor of the machine can damage the straps and inner structure of your costume. With lingerie and bras, they can go in the washing machine if you put them in a laundry bag so they don’t come into contact with other clothing. For swimwear, you’re better off hand washing them.

7. Suits & ties

Things to never put in a washing machine: Suits

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Both suits and ties are made from delicate fabrics which can’t hold up to the heat or motion of a washing machine. Any kind of tailored suit should be taken to the dry cleaners, as the material, interfacing and detailing of the jacket and trousers can lose their shape and even disintegrate in water. Similarly, most ties are made out of silk or wool and as we’ve discussed, these fabrics can shrink and snag in a washing machine.

8. Foam pillows

Eve Memory Pillow on bed

(Image credit: Eve)

You might not think to put the best pillows in the washing machine but pillows filled with down, feathers and polyester are typically machine-washable. However, memory foam pillows can easily tear in a washing machine and the foam inside can weaken and break, leaving you with an uncomfortable and unsupportive pillow. See how to clean a pillow for tips on hand washing foam pillows.

9. Flammable stains

If you have clothes or rags that have been soaked or splattered in flammable liquids, never put them in your washing machine or tumble dryer! Stains like gasoline, alcohol, cooking oil and paint thinner can easily catch fire, especially when inside a contained space with high heats. If you experience this stain, pre-soak your clothes with detergent to remove the stains before you can even think about putting it in a washing machine or dryer.

10. Clothes covered in pet hair

If your clothing is coated in pet hair or your dog’s bed needs a wash, try to remove as much hair as possible before throwing them in the washing machine. All this pet hair on your clothes or bedding can collect and clump in your machine, stick to the sides of the drum and clog the pipes, shortening the lifespan of your appliance. It can also get all over your other clothes which just makes your entire wash dirty. To avoid this, go over your clothes with a lint roller or brush to remove any stray pet hairs.

Bethan Girdler-Maslen
Home Editor

Beth is Home Editor for T3, looking after style, living and wellness. From the comfiest mattresses to what strange things you can cook in an air fryer, Beth covers sleep, yoga, smart home, coffee machines, grooming tools, fragrances, gardening and much more. If it's something that goes in your house, chances are Beth knows about it and has the latest reviews and recommendations! She's also in the know about the latest deals and discount codes from top brands and retailers.

Having always been passionate about writing, she’s written for websites, newspapers and magazines on a variety of topics, from jewellery and culture, to food and telecoms. You can find her work across numerous sites, including Wedding Ideas Magazine, Health & Wellbeing, The Bristol Post, Fashion & Style Directory, TechRadar, CreativeBloq and more. In her spare time, Beth enjoys running, reading, baking and attempting craft projects that will probably end in disaster!