Between college dorms and moving to Manhattan right after college, I’ve been to my fair share of laundromats in my day — and none of them were particularly pleasant. Between dragging the bag of dirty clothes there to using a machine that houses other people’s dirty laundry, it’s just not the most fun experience. There’s also the matter of finding strange things in your laundry.
If you’ve ever picked up your clothes from the laundromat or taken out your laundry from your own dryer only to spot something that didn’t belong, then you know how surprising and potentially unsettling it can be. While living in New York, I can’t tell you the amount of times I discovered tiny, baby-sized socks in my freshly folded-up laundry despite not having a baby myself. Still, tiny children’s socks are nothing compared to what some people have found. Here are nine random items that people have come across in their washer, dryer, or laundry. And for the record, the last one will haunt me.
“One time I went thrifting and dumped the entire bag of clothes into my washing machine when I got home and carried on with my day. Later, when I [went] back switch the laundry, I discovered at the bottom of my washing machine the shot glass I completely forgot I had bought with the clothes. Thankfully it was still fully intact, and I saved it before it made it to the dryer.” — Hadassah Wright, Columbus, Ohio
“I put an entire dirty diaper through the wash with a full load of clothes, opened up the washer to transfer the clothes to the dryer, and everything was covered in little pieces of absorbent diaper gel. I cried thinking I had just ruined hundreds of dollars’ worth of clothes, ran to Google to see what to do. Turns out, throwing it all in the dryer somehow disintegrates the gel, and everything came out perfect. Literally breathed a huge sigh of relief.” — Catherine Leonard, Baltimore, Maryland
“On multiple occasions, I have put shoes through the washer accidentally because they end up mixed up in a pile of clothes on the floor. And actually, shoes I really thought would be goners (like suede, faux-suede, and leather) have made it out intact, looking fine!” — Emily Winshel, Philadelphia
“We lived in a creaky old home, blindly disregarding the fact that our washing machine was in the damp, cobwebbed, unfinished basement because we were just grateful to have in-unit laundry. Once a week, I did a load and would bring it upstairs to fold. One particular evening, I was folding laundry on my bed when I reached into the pile and out fell an old, wadded rag… or so I thought. ‘Hmm, this is new!’ I grabbed the rag and realized upon closer inspection it was not a rag but a dead, dried bat! I learned the hard way that bats can sometimes crawl into dryer vents, where they are unexpectedly faced with their steamy, tumbly demise. I screamed and refused to fold laundry for a couple of months following.” — Rachel Lindhart, Lincoln, Nebraska
“I accidentally put my fiancé’s AirPods in the wash, and to everyone’s surprise, they survived! No rice needed.” — Mackenzie Maloney, Washington, D.C.
“My friends and I had been looking for shark teeth on the beach in Florida a month prior, and one day, I was folding laundry when a shark tooth fell out of a pair of underwear. It was truly bizarre, but it must’ve been stuck in a pocket? Who knows, but sharks’ teeth in my underwear was not what I was expecting.” — Barbara Beblowski, Portland, Maine
“My little brother once put Silly Putty in the laundry, and it ruined the dryer and everything in there with it! We all were then banned from putty-related toys (no slime, floam, other ’90s staples), and I honestly probably bring this up annually, at a minimum.” — Emily Falcone, Delaware
“My partner typically does his own laundry, but occasionally we will combine loads or I’ll help him out when he has a particularly busy schedule. Every time my partner, who works in film and TV, is on a new project, I consistently discover small flashlights, screws, balled up electric tape, and other gadgets (that always seem to revive themselves post-wash) in the laundry. Oh, and he’s notorious for leaving Reese’s wrappers for me to find bouncing around the dryer.” — Kitty Janvrin, Charlotte, North Carolina
“Once in college up in Boston, I was drying my clothes in the dorm’s laundry room. I took my clothes out of the dryer and started laying them out to fold them. As I tucked in the pockets of a pair of jeans I wore all the time, I felt a piece of paper in one of the pockets. I took it out, and it was a passport photo of a guy I’d never even seen before. I brought it upstairs thinking it must belong to one of my roommates, but they’d never seen it before either. To this day, the photo still lives in my wallet.” — Vicky Rosenthal, Miami