10 Things You Should Never Put in the Washing Machine

Some items can shrink in the washer, while others can be totally destroyed or even break your machine!

open door in automatic washing machine and clean clothes inside after laundry in apartmentBRIZMAKER/GETTY IMAGES

When you have a heap of dirty laundry to tackle, it can be tempting to throw it all in the washing machine to get it over with. However, certain clothing and household items should never go in your washer. These can be damaged or even damage your machine, causing more problems in the long run.

So the next time you prep your laundry, make sure to leave the following items out of the basket.

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Close Up Of Mans Feet Wearing Suede Boots on wooden shoes
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Leather or Suede Shoes

Contrary to popular belief, you can put certain kinds of shoes in the washing machine — but not those with leather or suede accents.

Sarah Armstrong, new product brand manager at Maytag, told Consumer Reports washing machines will damage these materials, as well as wool, velvet, silk or cork. So check those shoes carefully before tossing them in the wash! Here are a few moe tips that you should know before you wash your shoes in washing machine.

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Male and Female White Underwear Hanging In Clear Blue Sky
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They’re called delicates for a reason! Lace, silk, beading and embroidery can all be ruined in a harsh washing machine. And the underwire and hook-and-eye closures on bras can even damage the interior of your washer.

According to Southern Living, always hand-wash your lingerie. However, you can throw them in the washer if they’re placed in a mesh bag.

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Woman Cleaning Black Clothes With Lint Roller Or Sticky Roller From Grey Cats Hair
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Clothes Covered in Pet Hair

Leanne Stapf, vice president of operations at The Cleaning Authority, told the Cincinnati Inquirer, “[W]et fur can clump together and stick to the sides of the machine, get on other clothing items, or even clog the drain pipes.” With that in mind, if you have a furry pet, always lint-roll your clothes before washing them

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Baby Socks Hanging On A Clothesline
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Baby Socks

According to Southern Living, “[B]aby socks are so tiny that they can be sucked into the hoses and vents on your washer and dryer.” This means expensive machine damages, as well as an ever-dwindling supply of socks! Always place baby socks in a machine-safe garment bag before tossing in the washer.

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Men's Suit with a White and Blue Striped Dress Shirt, a Blue Striped Tie and a navy blue suit
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Suits and Ties

Yes, suits really do need to be dry-cleaned. They’re made of especially high-quality materials like wool, silk or velvet, all of which can “shrink or tear, even in a delicate cycle,” according to Stapf. Bring those silk ties to the dry cleaner, too.

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Close Up of a Pile of Old, Used U.S. Pennies
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Coins and Keys

We all know we need to empty our pockets before tossing an item in the wash, but just how bad are the damages from these errant metal items? According to appliance company Sonic Soak, pretty terrible. Coins can damage the fins of the drain pump, while keys may scratch the washer drum or stick in filters or valves.

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Handprint On A Memory Foam Pillow
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Memory Foam Pillows

Jon Chan, senior lab technician at Reviwed, tells Consumer Reports: “Most memory foam pillows have an open-cell structure that will turn them into soggy bricks if socked in water, and they might fall to pieces after getting subjected to a spin cycle.” Best to spot-clean your memory foam pillows and keep them far from the laundry room.

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Young Man Hiking In Rain With Waterproof Jacket
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Anything Waterproof

According to Sonic Soak, waterproof items like raincoats will “trap water and have a balloon-like effect, which will eventually explode during the wash cycle.” To make matters worse, pieces of a rain jacket could get stuck in valves or filters. Therefore, never machine-wash rain jackets. Check their labels to determine a better course of action.

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Stack Of Knitted Cashmere Sweaters stacked in a messy pile on a white wooden table and a light gray background
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Wool or Cashmere Sweaters

Wool can shrink in the washing machine and cashmere can easily pill.

While it’s true that some wools and cashmeres are machine-washable, always check the tags before attempting to wash them. Rich Handel, the lead washing machine tester at Consumer Reports, suggests turning wool and cashmere items inside-out and washing on a cold water or delicate cycle.

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Collection Of Teddy Bears piled on top of one another
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Stuffed Animals

Many well-loved stuffed animals can be placed in the washing machine, according to Sonic Soak. But with each wash, small pieces like buttons or bead eyes can fall off. They recommend only washing stuffed animals when really necessary, and hand-washing the most precious ones.