When my husband and I became parents, we tried to prepare ourselves. We took classes, read books, talked to other new parents, and scoured parenting blogs and social media accounts. We knew to expect less sleep, less freedom and less time to ourselves. We were warned about the laundry, too — the never-ending laundry.

Our washer runs every day, usually multiple times per day. While clothing makes up most of our loads, we also have bedding, towels, changing pads and other items added to the mix. With or without a baby, there are many items that can — and probably should — get washed regularly. If you want to make the most of your washing machine, consider loading up on these non-clothing items:



First, remove the laces and put them in a laundry bag. Next, brush your shoes with an old toothbrush or other cleaner to remove as much mud and debris as you can. When you’re done, place them in the washer, along with the laces. Add in some towels to help keep the sneakers from banging around the machine. Wash with liquid detergent on gentle cycle with cold water, and add a cup of vinegar if you need to deodorize as well. Remove the shoes and stuff with newspaper. The newspaper will absorb the moisture. Allow them to air dry completely before wearing.


Plush toys will often have care instructions on the tag. You probably knew you could wash these, but did you know you could wash hard toys as well? Load things like Legos, Little People and other plastic toys into a mesh laundry bag. Run through a cold, delicate cycle and spread on a towel to air dry afterward.

Just make sure to avoid washing anything with electronic components (toys that move, play music, etc.) or wooden toys that might get damaged or warped from being submerged in water.

Shower curtains


Your fabric curtain probably comes with care instructions and, truth be told, you probably don’t need to wash it very often. The plastic liner is what gets gross, but you can wash that, too. Add it to the washing machine along with some towels. The towels will act like scrubbers to help wash away grime. Hang to dry when the cycle is complete.


Gym bags, backpacks, reusable grocery bags and lunch bags can all use a cleaning in the washer. Place the smaller bags in a mesh laundry bag, and larger items in a pillow-case. Run through a gentle cycle using cold water and liquid detergent. Air dry when done.

Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email thefixisin@gmail.com.