Can You Put Plastic In The Washing Machine?

Depending on the specific item, most plastic items are safe to machine wash. For instance, nylon, a type of plastic, is generally safe to wash in a machine. 

It’s crucial, however, to always check the care label for specific instructions regarding the wash cycle, temperature, and type of detergent to use.

Figuring out which plastics can go in the washing machine and which can’t can be tricky. Some are completely safe to wash this way, while others need more care. 

Keep reading to find out which plastics are good to go and learn about other options for the ones that aren’t.

Which Plastic Items Should Not Be Machine Washed?

It’s advisable not to wash plastic carrier bags or similar items in the washing machine. These are often made from a type of plastic that isn’t suitable for machine washing and may shrink or disintegrate, potentially damaging your machine. 

Similarly, silicone items, though heat-resistant, are typically small and easier to wash by hand. For larger pieces, cleaning with a hose in a bathtub is a better approach.

The same goes for hard plastic toys as they could damage the machine. For items like building blocks or bath toys, using the dishwasher is a safer alternative to prevent damage to your washing machine.

Alternatively, you could wash these plastic items by hand. Just use warm water mixed with a bit of washing-up liquid, rather than laundry soap. Rinse them well and let them air dry to stay clean.

Which Plastic Items Can Be Machine Washed?

laundry room with pile of clothes

Items like liners and shower curtains, which obviously can handle water, often prompt the question of whether they can go in the washing machine. 

Generally, these can be cleaned in the machine if you use a gentle cycle with cold water, around 30 degrees Celsius. However, be cautious with high temperatures, which can exceed 60 degrees Celsius, as these can damage the plastic.

How To Machine Wash Plastic Shower Curtains

bicarbonate of soda

To clean your plastic shower curtain in the washing machine, use warm water and add bicarbonate of soda, vinegar, or a gentle laundry detergent. Opt for a delicate wash cycle. 

Remember to choose only one of these cleaning agents; mixing them could lead to an unwanted chemical reaction. 

After washing, hang the curtain back up to dry on the shower rod.

How To Hand Wash Plastic Shower Curtains

To handwash your plastic shower curtain, use bicarbonate of soda with a microfiber cloth. 

Scrub the curtain after dampening the cloth with the soda, then rinse with warm water. If soap scum or hard water stains persist, treat these areas again before a final rinse.

How Often Should You Wash A Plastic Shower Curtain?

Shower curtains can get very damp, leading to the growth of mould and mildew, which are bad for health and cause unpleasant smells. 

The best practice would be to wash it once per month. If that’s not possible, you should wash your plastic shower curtain every 3 months. 

Taking care of your curtain often also prevents soap and dirt from wearing it out, so it stays in good shape for a longer time.

Can You Wash Clothes In A Plastic Bag In The Washer?

A person putting clothes into a washing machine

It’s generally not recommended to put your delicates or any clothes in a normal plastic bag in the washing machine. However, a plastic mesh wash bag is appropriate for use because it’s designed specifically for washing. Regular plastic bags are not very heat-resistant and might bleed colours when wet.

If a plastic bag is accidentally washed, such as one left in a pocket, there’s no need for excessive worry. The risks are minimal, especially if it happens just once. However, repeatedly washing plastic bags can pose more of a risk.

SEE ALSO: Can You Put Plastic In An Air Fryer? (read this first)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to wash plastic?

The best way to wash plastic depends on the item. Small, non-machine-safe items can be washed by hand with warm water and washing-up liquid. For machine-safe items like certain shower curtains or covers, use a gentle cycle with cold water in the washing machine.

What plastics cannot be washed in the washing machine?

Items that cannot be washed in the washing machine include plastic carrier bags, certain silicone items, and hard plastic toys. These might shrink, disintegrate, or damage the machine.

Can we wash plastic covers in the washing machine?

Yes, you can wash a plastic cover in the washing machine if it is of a type that can handle water, such as a shower curtain. Use a gentle cycle with cold water to avoid any damage.

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