Worst thing you've accidentally put in the washing machine

I washed my GO train pass once ($250/month), and it went through the dryer as well, so most of it was still in a very dry, tight lump. Using some tweezers and a couple of picks, I was able to “unfold” it enough that they issued me a new one.

Who had to approach the dryer to stop it?

Nothing too serious, just a passport, a cell phone, and various other wallet contents.

This happens not infrequently to me (lip balms being the most common) but the worst was my brand-new mp3 player - a Creative Zen MuVo. Through the washer AND the dryer, actually.

It worked just fine afterwards. That got my loyalty to the brand cemented for ever.

A deep red, 100% wool sweater. One week when I was home from college.

I ran it in an all-white load (hot wash cycle).

I don’t know HOW I missed it going in, with all the white socks and shirts.

The sweater came out about 1/3 the original size (all those TV cartoons were right!) and extremely faded. Unwearable.

Worse, all the white socks and white t-shirts came out BRIGHT PINK (no joking). The underwear I didn’t care about (who was gonna notice?) but I immediately put the white load back in the washer again – twice – and although I didn’t get everything back to pure white, I got it to where it was at least not pink enough to notice.

girlie TMI warning

A sanitary napkin/ panty liner, one of the super thin, super absorbant, with adhesive strip kind. There’s a layer some kind of absorbent gel (silica gel?) that expands and gets kind of collagenous if given enough water. Very gooey icky all over washing machine. Remember to remove before throwing drawers in the wash.

cinnamon gum, a whole freakin’ pack! washed and dried. took me hours to scrape all the gum off the sides of the dryer (btw, damp dryer sheets work very well for this) and had to pitch about half the laundry.

A cat.

My mom was drying clothes when I was a kid and had stopped to take a phone call. She’d left the drying machine’s door open and the warm, mostly dry shirts must have seemed like a cozy place to the family cat (his name was Mozart). When she came back to the laundry room, she didn’t think to check inside the machine and just closed the door and turned it on.

A few minutes later she heard a rhythmic “thump, thump, thump” coming from the laundry room and went to check. She’s a real animal lover, too. We’ve always had cats, horses, dogs, turtles, you name it. She can’t even talk about it without getting choked up, and that had to have been over 10 years ago.

Heh. I have no excuse–I threw a black cotton dress in with my lights/whites once and still have no idea why. Since black isn’t really black, everything turned a shade of light purple. Bleach in a re-wash took care of most of it but I was on a tight budget and was pretty shaken up there for a little while!

My daughter had her cell phone go through the wash - but that was only the start of her woes…

She had gone with her friends to a Jimmy Eat World concert. I got a call from her friend at about 9:00pm, saying that she was a bit “under the weather” and could I pick them up. “Under the influence”, more like. She had drunk vodka as they partied beforehand. I got her in the car, where she promptly threw up, over herself, the seat, the floor. We got her home, and into a shower, and her clothes went straight into the wash, including the phone :smack:.

So, she had to pay for a replacement phone (via ebay), two new tickets for a later concert (for her and her friend), fuel costs to the new concert, valet costs for the car. A really expensive lesson for a 17 y.o. But one she has learned from. The best lessons hit in the wallet.


I washed my social security card. It was pink for the next decade or so, until I got married and got a new one.

Chapstick is the worst. I had to get rid of most of a load of clothes because I washed and dried them with melted chapstick.

Gum in my jeans pocket - got gobs of gum and paper all over the load of dark clothes. Ugh.

Also, tissues. Ew.

An iPod - my son left it in his pocket and it went in the wash.

This doesn’t really count because it was the dryer, and intentional. And it wasn’t me, but friends of my parents.

The item was a package of frozen ground beef, which they wanted to thaw (this was before the age of microwave ovens). The dryer would do that, right? Unfortunately, they were on the verge of leaving for a week’s vacation, and in the confusion forgot completely about the beef. Upon their return home, an intense smell reminded them.

A bottle of blue nail polish got wrapped up in one of my towels once. Thankfully, I tend to wash towels all by themselves. All the towels are still a mottled blue color.

I managed to wash my alarm clock once. My theory is that is somehow got pulled up (and unplugged, I guess) when I was stripping the sheets, and in it went. Amazingly after it dried out it seemed to work just fine, but I’m still baffled as to how I didn’t notice it in there.

I washed and dried a really expensive wristwatch. It came apart into many many pieces. I gathered up what I could and sent it to the maker. They put it back together but it cost a fortune.

I have a rule for myself now that I won’t put my watch in my pocket when I take it off my wrist. In my purse, sure, in a bowl on the kitchen counter, fine, on the windowsill in the bathroom, whatever, but never, never in my pocket.


If the crayon makes it to the dryer, as it did in my case, it’s perfectly capable of ruining an entire load of laundry. And when I total up the replacement costs of four or five pairs of jeans and a like number of button-up and polo shirts (I don’t care if my boxers have green blotches on them!), I may well have been better off washing my PDA than a single crayon.

Two USB flash drives, on two different occasions. Both survived with data intact, oddly enough.

My SO’s lighter. It must’ve been empty, because the clothes did not come out smelling like fluid nor did the dryer explode.

Why he can’t leave twenty dollar bills in his pocket, I’ll never know.

I once left a bag of marijuana (it was in a country where it was legal) in a pocket.

For some reason, I figured it out while it was mid-load. Even though it was in a plastic bag, it still got wet.

It was fine, though, after drying out. I guess because it’s not water soluble.

I’m very surprised, though, that it didn’t make it all the way through the dryer cycle.