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The One Thing You Should Never Put in Your Washing Machine, Experts Warn

The surprising item could end up badly damaging your appliance.

No matter what kind of cleaning schedule you keep, your washing machine is likely one of the hardest working machines in your house. The indispensable appliances get your clothes clean and your bedlinens fresh by pressing a few buttons. But just because they can do a lot doesn't mean they can do everything. In fact, experts warn there's one surprising household item that you should never put in your washing machine. Read on to see what you should spare from the spin cycle.

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Experts warn that you should never put bathroom mats in your washing machine.

Bath mat with slippers

It can be easy to forget that the durable machines you rely upon have a working limit when doing chores. And even though it might seem perfectly harmless to toss them in with the rest of your laundry, experts warn that bathroom mats can surprisingly be too much for your washing machine to handle.

Experts say the issue lies with how large the baskets of modern washing machines have become. While it allows you to take care of bigger bundles of clothes in fewer cycles, it can also make them easy to overload and permanently damage vital parts. "The problem is bathroom mats absorb so much water that they end up weighing far more than the washer was designed to handle," Scott Flint, an expert appliance repair technician with 30 years experience, writes for Family Handyman. "Modern washers have a much faster spin rate than washers of the past—up to 1,200 revolutions per minute during high-speed spins! These faster rates create large amounts of force with heavy items, and the increased weight tears the washer apart."

Running your mats through the washing machine can lead to very costly repairs.

View Looking Out From Inside Washing Machine As Man Does White Laundry

According to Flint, there are two ways your seemingly simple bathmat can end up becoming a very costly repair. "Bathroom mats often have a rubbery backing that disintegrates in the wash cycle," he writes. "The small rubber pieces then block the drain pump by clogging its motor and drain line." But he adds that even mats without rubber backs can clog the drain line after long fibers become detached while washing, often requiring a replacement that costs $240 for parts and labor.

They can also physically break another critical piece of the appliance. "The rear bearing that supports the spin basket takes the brunt of the damage from heavy bathroom mats and the great centripetal force generated by the spin cycle," Flint says, which he adds can cost upwards of $500 to repair. "Washing machine manufacturers really should warn buyers not to wash bathroom mats!"

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Hand washing your mats can help both your appliance and bathroom fixture live longer.

Washing clothes

Fortunately, just because you can't put them into a machine doesn't mean you can't clean your most functional pieces of bathroom decor. Taking the effort to hand wash your bathroom mats can not only spare you a giant washing machine repair bill, but it can also help the mats last longer, too.

Coincidentally, the easiest way to clean your bathroom mat actually involves using your bath, Better Homes & Gardens writes. Simply fill your tub with warm water and a few tablespoons of laundry detergent while being sure to put down a towel to protect your floor while you clean the mat that's usually there. From there, drop in your fabric mat and use a sponge to spot clean any stains before emptying the tub and rinsing off the detergent with cold water and letting the item air dry.

You should also beware of placing other items in your washing machine that become heavy when wet.

Young Woman loading washing machine and Basket Full Of Dirty Clothes In Laundry Room

While bathroom mats are most often mistakenly considered safe to run through the spin cycle because of their size, they're not the only household item that can do significant damage to your washing machine. Flint says that any items that can become much heavier when wet such as comforters, sleeping bags, dog beds, drapes, weighted blankets, and traditional rugs can all have the same effects on your appliance's inner workings.

If you still need a way to get heavy items clean from time to time, you might be best off taking them to a professional for the job or running them to the laundromat. "Use a coin laundry's powerful, robust machines," Flint suggests. Otherwise, "be prepared to buy a new washer every two to three years," he says.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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