Skip to Content

Can You Wash Clothes With Safety Pins? | What to Know

Doing laundry is the one household chore that you never quite get caught up with. Even if you are, something will get tossed in the laundry hamper within the next hour – probably sooner.

This never-ending task has inspired a host of labor-saving techniques, including washing clothing with safety pins in them. There are a few reasons for doing this, but should you? 

You can wash clothes with safety pins, but that should be considered a one-time stopgap measure to give time for a more permanent solution.

Today, we’ll be taking a look at why washing clothes with safety pins can be both a good idea, and bad.

Safety Pin On Blue Carpet

Don’t Do It! OK, Maybe Just This Once

Laundry experts unanimously agree: there is no definitive answer to the question of whether you should wash clothes with safety pins in them.  While the fact that you can wash clothes with safety pins in them is pretty well undisputed, the bigger question is if you should.

Due to the number of things that can go wrong with having safety pins in the wash, it’s prudent to limit their use to emergencies only when a permanent fix isn’t immediately possible. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a host of people who routinely wash clothes with safety pins and never think twice about it. They have their reasons, and they will be quick to point out that nothing bad ever happened.

Why would you want to wash clothes with safety pins in them in the first place? Here are a few reasons:

  • To keep items that are meant to be together fastened to each other (like socks).
  • To keep items tucked and less apt to get stretched or twisted during the wash cycle.
  • To keep two pieces of a garment attached at the ideal points.
  • To preserve the pinning of a garment for a better fit.

Why you shouldn’t regularly wash clothes with safety pins:

  • The pins could spring open, causing a safety hazard.
  • The pins could come off altogether and damage the washer drum.
  • The pins could rust and stain clothing.

You’re Going to Do It Anyway? Here Are Some Tips to Do It Safely.

Suppose you have a shirt with a collar that has a mind of its own. The first time you washed it, the shirt went one way, and the collar went the other. It’s not a button-down collar, so to keep the collar in place, you pin it in a hidden spot. Or, perhaps you’ve tightened up the fit if a top and pinned a few tucks in the material until you can do them right with a sewing machine.

Here are a few tips on how to launder that garment, with pins still attached:

  • Wash it inside out.
  • Put it inside a pillowcase.
  • Place the garment along the outer rim of the drum.
  • Use a gentle or “hand wash” cycle.

Turning the garment inside out or stashing it inside a pillowcase minimizes the amount of damage or undesired outcome that would result if the pin opened up during the wash cycle.  Placing the garment on the outer perimeter of the clothes drum keeps it away from the agitator, which would be the most likely culprit if the pin were forced open or fell out altogether.

The gentle cycle – sometimes called the delicate or hand wash cycle –  reduces the intensity and duration of the agitation inside the washer, as well as the overall duration of the cycle.  If the garment was badly soiled, however, the gentle cycle might not get it clean enough.

So what about drying?

The second phase of laundry is, of course, drying, and drying clothes with safety pins in them poses a few of the same problems as the wash phase. In addition to the usual concerns of pins opening or falling out, you have the added element of heat. Those pins can get plenty hot in the dryer and can cause painful burns if touched or handled.

If you washed the garment inside a pillowcase, leave it that way when you toss it in the dryer. If you washed the garment inside out, leave it that way.  Some laundry experts recommend air-drying the pinned garment, either on the “air” setting in the dryer (no heat) or literally letting it dry on a hanger or on a clothesline.

However, if you choose to dry the item, be aware of the heat. Use the lightest heat setting you can, and be careful when you reach in to pull the item out of the dryer.

Ashes to Ashes; Rust to Rust

If you abandon the only-in-an-emergency rule on safety pins in the laundry and it becomes a routine instead of an exception, you need to know that with repeated washings, a safety pin will rust – at least a cheap one will.

If you’ve ever washed a garment, or maybe a ball cap that had metal vents or grommets in it, you probably noticed a spattering of rust around it after a few washes. Sometimes, it can happen after only one wash. But what starts as a “spattering” of rust in one isolated place on the garment can spread to other parts of the garment, as well as to other garments that are washed with it.

So if you wash an item repeatedly with a safety pin in it, that safety pin is bound to rust sooner or later. A stainless steel safety pin would hold up longer, but what shopper is that particular when it comes to buying safety pins?

Five Laundry Goofs to Avoid

Doing laundry is never going to be a walk in the park, but there are a number of mistakes you can make that will make the chore more drudgery than it needs to be. These are five totally avoidable flub-ups that you need to sidestep:

  • Leaving clothes in the washer too long
  • Water too hot
  • Overloading the washer
  • Too much suds
  • Too long in the dryer

Don’t Leave Clothes in the Washer

When you leave clothes too long in the washer, they begin to stink, especially in the summer. Mold and mildew can develop, as well.

Clothes that are left too long in the dryer after it has quit tumbling come out hopelessly wrinkled, and the only options are to drag out the iron and ironing board or do the load all over again. Putting dry clothes back in the dryer and resetting it, hoping it will de-wrinkle the clothes, is simply fool’s gold.

Don’t Launder with Hot Water

Hot water is for whites and for sanitizing – nothing else. Depending on the fabric, hot water might not be appropriate, even for whites. Otherwise, you’ll end up with clothes that shrink a size. 

Check the clothing tags and follow the instructions. They’re there for a reason.

Don’t Overload the Washing Machine

For the most part, do not load clothes past the tines on the agitator.  Overloading a washer is a common mistake, resulting in poor cleaning, wrinkles, and excessive wear, both on the clothes and on the washer.

Don’t Use Excessive Detergent

If you watch a family sitcom for enough seasons, there’s bound to be an episode where someone puts too much detergent in the washing machine, and suds fly around the house. 

It’s funny.  Until it happens to you. You don’t even have to go that far to cause problems. Habitually dumping in extra detergent puts pressure on the pumps, the agitator, and the clothes. Your clothes come out less clean than if you’d used the correct amount of detergent.

Detergent manufacturers make it easy to get the amount right, so there’s no excuse for overdoing it.

Related Questions

Is it safe to wash clothes with gasoline on them? It is safe to wash clothes with gasoline on them, but they need to be washed separately from other non-gas stained clothing. Use a hot water cycle on delicate settings.

What causes oil stains on clothes after washing? Sometimes oil spots can appear on your laundry due to a bad seal on a leaking transmission shaft. This can cause spots to appear on clothes after a wash cycle.

Is it okay to wash white clothes with colored clothes? If you want your whites and light colors to remain bright, you need to wash the clothing separately. If you feel the need to consolidate into one load, wash your mixed load on cold settings.

For more, don’t miss Is It Better to Wash Clothes in Cold or Warm Water?