8 Things You Should Never Clean in a Washing Machine

Not even on the delicate cycle.

Nothing is more convenient than throwing everything you own into the washing machine. And the list of items you never knew you could clean in the washing machine (like bathmats and baseball caps) always seems to be growing. But there are several items that should never be machine washed. Delicate garments and fragile fabrics that could be damaged or warped should always be hand-washed or dry-cleaned.

The easiest way to find out if a garment is machine-safe? Check the label. If you see a laundry symbol that looks like a basin full of water with an X through it, the item should not be washed. For a general cheat sheet of items you should never throw in the washing machine, consult the list below.

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Things You Should Never Machine Wash, palm tree in washing machine
Yaroslav Kushta/Getty Images

If you want your bathing suit to last all season, hand-washing it is the best and gentlest option. The washing machine can damage the suit's straps and wear down high-tech fabrics. Instead, follow the proper steps to hand-wash your swimsuit using cold water and mild detergent. Pro tip: Wash your bathing suit after every wear to remove salt, sweat, and sunscreen from the fibers.

RELATED: Yes, You Need to Clean Your Washing Machine

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Embellished and Sequined Clothing

Shirts, sweaters, and dresses with sequins or jewels are too delicate to handle a run through the washing machine. Even if placed in a mesh laundry bag, the delicate embellishments still risk getting snagged in the machine. Check the tag, but your best bet is to dry clean these fragile pieces, as even hand-washing them could result in tears or loose sequins.

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Memory Foam Pillows

Even the gentle cycle on a washing machine has been known to turn a memory foam pillow into a misshapen mess. And don't even think about throwing it into the dryer, which can melt the foam material. Instead, follow the manufacturer's care instructions, or fill a bathtub or large sink with lukewarm water and mild detergent. Submerge the pillow, then gently squeeze the pillow to remove the water, without wringing. Let the pillow air-dry in a spot with good air circulation (or set up a fan) so mildew has no chance to grow.

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Garments Stained with Flammable Substances

If you get a flammable substance like alcohol, lighter fluid, or gasoline on clothing or cleaning cloths, tossing them directly into the washing machine could potentially start a fire. Instead, start by hand-washing the items using detergent and stain-removal spray. When the flammable substance is fully removed, the fabric is ready for the washing machine.

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Running Sneakers

Canvas sneakers are totally fine to toss into the wash, but running sneakers crafted from high-tech fibers are not. A cycle through the washing machine could make your expensive sneakers a little too snug. As always, check the label, and when in doubt, opt for a hand wash using cool water.

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Lacy garments and underwear can survive the washing machine if they're placed inside a lingerie bag and set on the delicate cycle, but repeat machine-washing will cause these fragile pieces to wear faster. To keep them looking their best, hand-wash them in cool water with a mild detergent.

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Mats or Rugs with Rubber Backings

Many types of bathmats and area rugs can be tossed in the washing machine, but not those with rubber backings. A run through the washing machine can loosen the adhesive that holds the rubber to the bathmat, causing it to fall apart more quickly. The same goes for slippers with rubber soles and similar items.

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Ties are typically made from difficult-to-wash fabrics like wool and silk, and throwing them in the wash can stretch them out of shape. Take these expensive accessories to the dry cleaner to keep them looking their best.

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