There are plenty of plastic items around the home that we might need to wash, and it’s understandable that you might be looking for the quickest and easiest way to do so.
But is the washing machine the answer? Are there any risks to putting plastic in the washing machine? Let’s find out.
Can You Put Plastic in the Washing Machine?
While it ultimately depends on the item you’re washing, plenty of plastic items are fine to be put in the washing machine. You probably won’t have a care guide with the item, so there are some general rules to follow to decide whether it’s fine to machine wash.
You can wash clothes made from nylon, which is a type of plastic, in the washing machine without any issues.
Then there are items like shower curtains and liners. They can obviously get wet, but does that make them suitable for the washing machine? In general, these items can be machine washed, provided you use cold water, such as a 30-degree Celsius cycle. Prolonged exposure to hot water (60 degrees Celsius or above) can damage the plastic.
Plastic Items You Shouldn’t Put in the Washing Machine
You should avoid washing plastic carrier bags and similar items in the washing machine, as they’re the wrong type of plastic. The washing machine could cause them to shrink or disintegrate, which will damage your washing machine.
If for some reason you want to wash a plastic carrier bag, it’s best to do it by hand.
The same is true for silicone items. While silicone items are heat-resistant, they’re usually small enough to handle with ease. For larger silicone items, simply hose them down or wash in a bath.
The easiest way to wash plastic items by hand is with warm soapy water. Use washing up liquid rather than laundry detergent, as it’s better for this kind of job. Rinse and then air dry, and your item should be clean.
Can You Wash Clothes in a Plastic Bag?
For delicates and other similar items, it’s advised you put them in a bag to reduce damage. So, will a plastic bag work for this purpose?
It’s generally best to not put your delicates in a plastic bag in the washing machine for the reason given above.
However, a plastic mesh wash bag like this laundry bag available on Amazon should be fine, as it’s designed to be washed. Normal plastic bags don’t have a great tolerance to heat, and there’s always a chance that their colours could run due to water exposure.
Of course, if you accidentally wash a plastic bag that might have been in your pocket, you shouldn’t worry too much. The risks are fairly low, especially if it’s only once. Repeated washing is more of a risk than a one-time accidental wash when it comes to delicate plastic.
Because plastic is such a broad category, there’s no definitive answer about putting it in the washing machine. If you have any doubts, be cautious and wash the item by hand if possible.
You could also browse the rest of our site to see if we have any specific articles about the plastic item you need to wash.
Jacob is a freelance writer based in Wales, where he lives with his partner and two dogs. All his work is fuelled by extensive research and buckets of coffee.