Some things make it into the washer and never make it out, and it can feel like house elves are stealing your things when you swore you put an even number of socks in the machine, only to be left with an odd number. The truth is, your washer really does eat your clothes sometimes. The washer housing might be holding your socks, and the space in between your dryer lint trap probably has your underwear, too. So if you haven’t heard about the magic of mesh laundry bags already, it’s time you learn, because these thin, breathable bags can even do more than just laundry. Here are nine ways to use mesh bags both in and outside the laundry room.
Use mesh bags for camping
When you’re out camping like the old days — that is, without a camper and running water — you’ve got to find creative ways to wash your dishes, and one of the best ways to clean your cup plates and utensils is with a dunk bag. You place the dirty dishes in the bag and dunk them in a basin filled with water and soap or bleach, then you dunk it again in a bucket of clean water to rinse them off. When you’re done, take the drawstring and hang the bag from a tree or laundry line to dry. The bag also acts as storage.
Wash small items in the dishwasher
Washing tiny items by hand can be a pain, especially when you have a functioning dishwasher that you’d rather be using. Small items like pacifiers and tiny teacups don’t easily fit in the grooves and prongs of the washer, but instead you can put these items in a mesh bag and place them on the top or bottom rack. Be sure to use a mesh bag with a zipper or press-and-close function, because you just don’t want drawstrings getting caught in your dishwasher blades.
Use mesh laundry bags to keep from losing your socks
The most common way to keep your washer and dryer from stealing your socks is to wash them together. Rather than using a binder clip or other not-so-safe ways, just throw your socks into a mesh laundry bag and toss the whole bag straight into the washer. The sock bag can also go right into the dryer when the washer is done. There…you’ll never lose your socks in the washing machine again.
Use mesh laundry bags to wash your shoes in the machine
Many shoes aren’t necessarily delicate, but throwing them in the washer and dryer can leave them misshapen and useless. To save yourself from washing your shoes by hand, put them in a zipper mesh laundry bag with a couple of old towels. The towels will help keep the shoes from banging around in the washing machine, and the shoes won’t lose their shape. Just make sure to remove the laces and any insoles first — they can go inside the bag with the shoes or in a separate mesh bag so they don’t get tangled or ruined. For the dryer, get a mesh bag that attaches to the dryer door so the shoes will dry in place.
Use mesh laundry bags to air dry homegrown herbs
After picking your homegrown herbs, you have the option of using them right away or drying them for later. You can lay them on a table, put them in the oven, or microwave them, but one of the best ways to dry herbs is to air dry them using a mesh wire laundry bag to protect them from bugs and critters. Just hang the mesh hampers on hooks outside or on an enclosed porch to dry.
Use a mesh laundry bag to safely wash lingerie
A classic way to keep your delicates in good condition through the wash (besides a full load on the delicate setting) is to throw them in a mesh lingerie bag. Some items — like delicate sweaters, for example — often need to be washed by hand or dry cleaned to keep their softness and shape, so if your sweater requires dry cleaning or whatever, it’s best to follow those instructions; otherwise, though, putting your delicates in a mesh bag will give them a proper cleaning without the normal damage of a machine.
Also, things with velcro or hooks — like bras — often get snagged on other clothes in the washer and dryer. To prevent rips, tangles, and misshapen clothing, put those items in a mesh bag before you throw them in the washer and the dryer.
Clean toys in the washing machine with a mesh bag
We’ve talked about how to clean toys in the tub, but you can also just throw them in the washing machine with a mesh bag. You don’t want a bucket of legos to be clanging around in your washer or your kid’s favourite stuffed animal to lose an eye, so grab a large mesh bag for the legos and other hard toys and throw them in with a few old towels, just like you did with your shoes. You can take a small or medium mesh bag (or large bag depending on the size of the stuffed toy) and wash the stuffed animal like a delicate. Afterward, hang the toys in the mesh bag or lay them out to dry.
Store produce in breathable mesh
If you’re keeping your potatoes or onions in the plastic produce bags from the grocery store, odds are you’ve had to throw them away faster than you can cook them because how you store your fruits and vegetables helps determine how long they’ll last. As Simple Ecology explains, “As produce sits and ages, it begins to emit ethylene gas, which is what causes fruits and vegetables to rot so quickly.” A breathable fabric like mesh lets those gases escape, giving you longer-lasting produce. They recommend storing your garlic and onions in mesh bags hanging in your kitchen. You can also keep fruits and vegetables in mesh bags in your fridge (or counter, depending on the item).
Use mesh bags to get rid of excess sand from the beach
I love the beach, but when I open my bag at home and a mountain of sand falls onto my kitchen floor, it’s pretty annoying, because the worst part about the beach is tracking sand everywhere. A mesh bag will hold all your beach toys, towels, and sunscreen without taking the sand home with you.