Hearing the clunk, clunk, clunk of trainers going round in a washing machine can seem a bit unnerving. Should you have put them in there in the first place? 

Here are the answers to some common questions about what can and can’t go in your washing machine. 

Trainers and shoes

Cleaning trainers by hand is a slog. Thankfully, in many cases they can go in the washing machine. In fact, washing machine manufacturer Beko claims, if done right, your trainers can come out looking brand new[1]

However, this does vary by brand and trainer type, so always check the label (you’re going to get bored of being told to check the label, but it can’t be re-stated enough).

Nike, for example, advises against machine washing its trainers[2]. Adidas on the other hand, says most of its trainers can be cleaned in the washing machine[3]. As a guide, the brand says washer-friendly shoe fabrics include canvas, pleather (fake leather), rubber, plastic and knit. On the other hand, trainers made of suede or real leather shouldn’t go in the machine.

For those trainers that can go in the washing machine, here’s how to do it:

  1. Remove the laces and scrub off any excess mud or dirt. 
  2. Put your trainers and laces inside a washing machine bag, and place in the washing machine. 
  3. Add a few towels to stop the trainers from banging around inside the drum. 
  4. When choosing the right settings, follow any care instructions detailed on the label. But as a general rule, Beko advises washing trainers at a warm 30C, and using a good quality colour detergent.
  5. Leave them outside in the sun to dry, or under a radiator, but don’t dry them in a tumble dryer. Even if you’re short of time!

If you’re wondering whether other shoes types can go in the machine, then the same guidelines apply: those made from animal products, such as leather or suede, can sustain water damage[4].

Soft toys

Once a soft toy has emerged as your child’s favourite, they really can get some rough love and wear and tear: they get clung onto for hours on end, mop up tears and are generally used and abused. 

So, sometimes you’ll need to give that well-worn cuddly toy a wash. If your child is particularly dependent on their cuddly toy, time may be short: you might need to wash and dry it before bedtime! 

Thankfully, you can often take the convenient route and use a washing machine to clean stuffed animals. Put it in a mesh laundry bag, and choose a gentle wash setting on your machine, along with opting for a cold temperature to help keep colours from fading. Whirlpool says a regular detergent will be fine when washing stuffed animals[5].

Beware though, some cuddly toy manufacturers suggest you opt for soap and cool water rather than a machine wash, and then dry the toy with a hair dryer (not on a hot setting)[6]. Also, stuffed animals with built-in battery packs, mechanical parts or metal will need extra care to avoid being water-damaged, you might be able to remove these parts, but if in any doubt, yes, you guessed it - check the label.


While cotton jumpers can usually be added to your regular wash load, others, particularly knitwear, need to be handled gently when washing[7].

Depending on the jumper – the care label should say – you can use the machine, but on a delicate, low-heat setting. It’s also a good idea to turn the garment inside out before washing and put it on for the shortest cycle length available on your machine.

Then, when its washed, if your jumper is dryer safe, dry on the lowest setting possible or lay flat to air dry. Don’t hang wool or knitted jumpers to dry, as this can stretch them – instead, lay them flat.


Can you leave the belt on your trousers or jeans when you put them in the washer? The answer is no - they need to be removed every time. A spinning belt buckle could damage the glass on your machine[8]


You may regularly wash your sheets and pillowcases, but how about the pillows themselves? Perhaps surprisingly, many cotton, down, and synthetic pillows can be put in the washing machine (depending on what the label says) - although not foam ones[9].

Persil warns of the importance of ensuring your washing machine is big enough, and that the fabric case is robust so the filling won’t come loose, as this could damage the machine. 

Car mats

Can car mats go in the washing machine? It depends.

Some fabric car mats, as long as they aren’t too big or heavy, can go in the machine[10], however rubber mats – or even fabric car mats with a rubber edging or component – need to be washed by hand[11]

Swimming costumes

This one is a no-no too. 

Swimming cossies can be quite fragile. Putting them in your washing machine could loosen their elasticity and cause colours to fade[12]. It could also cause the fabric to pile and bobble, while washing detergents can also cause damage[13]

However, if you’re lucky you might have a hand wash setting on your washing machine, and this will save you having to get the rubber gloves out. Just make sure you put it on the coldest wash to prevent damage and use a mild detergent. No conditioner.

Either way, swimming costumes do need to be washed after use, to remove chlorine or salt water as these will cause damage to the fabric. It’s best to wash your swimsuit by hand with a mild soap and tap water. Leave them out to dry instead of using your tumble dryer.

For more tips on how to stay happy and safe in your home, go to Solved


[1] https://www.beko.com/bn-en/support/help-center/washing-machine/using/article/how-to-wash-trainers-in-your-washing-machine

[2] https://www.nike.com/gb/help/a/how-to-clean-shoes

[3] https://www.adidas.com/us/how-to-clean-shoes 

[4] https://www.bosch-home.co.uk/customer-service/get-support/washing-machines/how-do-i-wash-trainers-in-my-washing-machine

[5] https://www.whirlpool.com/blog/washers-and-dryers/how-to-wash-stuffed-animals.html

[6] https://www.jellycat.com/frequently-asked-questions/

[7] https://www.lenor.co.uk/en-gb/fabric-conditioner-tips/softness-fabric-protection/how-to-care-for-your-jumpers

[8] https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/06/10-things-you-should-never-do-if-you-own-a-washing-machine/

[9] https://www.persil.com/uk/laundry/laundry-tips/fabrics/how-to-wash-pillows.html

[10] https://www.walesonline.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/surprising-household-items-can-cleaned-18561573

[11] https://www.carmats-uk.com/cleaning-car-mats-top-tips/

[12] https://blog.espares.co.uk/espares/2018/11/8-things-never-put-washing-machine.html

[13] https://www.arenaswimwear.co.uk/arena-swim-suit-care