Money Management

Ways to Save Money When Doing the Laundry

Laundry may not be your favorite housekeeping task, but it’s something we all have to deal with. A typical family does between 300 and 400 loads of laundry each year. Whether you are doing laundry at home or use a Laundromat, the expenses of soap, electricity or gas to heat the water, and using a dryer to dry your clothes can add up to hundreds of dollars a year. Hopefully by following a few of the tips below you can save some money on your laundry expenses.

1. Don’t Wash Clothes As Often

You might be thinking this sounds crazy, but do you really need to wash your blue jeans after wearing them once? What about a shirt you wore with an undershirt? You can probably wear your jeans 2 or 3 times before needing to wash them, and some denim pros swear that they only wash their jeans once or twice a year! While I won’t go that far, I do recommend you wash your clothes less if they aren’t soiled. This will keep your clothes lasting longer and will keep your laundry costs down.

2. Avoid Dry Clean Only Clothes

This might be obvious, but dry cleaning can be very expensive. Dry cleaning can cost $2 per shirt and if you wear a new shirt each day that’s a quick $10 a week in dry cleaning bills just for one person! With newer wrinkle free fabrics you can machine wash clothes that come out as well as more expensive shirts that require dry cleaning. By choosing clothing that can be machine-washed you can save hundreds of dollars a year.

3. Use Less or No Detergent

Most modern washing machines have been designed to agitate laundry rapidly which knocks the dirt off of clothing. If your laundry is only lightly soiled you can probably get away with skipping detergent entirely. If you want to use detergent still, consider using significantly less than you do now. You might be surprised to find your clothes come out just as clean.

4. Make Your Own Detergent

You can search the internet and find many DIY laundry detergent recipes. An easy one we’ve tried in our home is the following:

  • 3 gallons and 4 cups of water
  • 1 bar of soap (do NOT use soap that contains lotion or moisturizers)
  • 1 cup borax
  • ½ cup washing soda

Bring the 4 cups of water to a boil and use a cheese grater to grate the bar of soap into the boiling water and boil until the soap dissolves. Pour the 3 gallons of water into a large bucket and add in the soap and water mix you just made. Add the borax and washing soda and stir until the ingredients thicken. That’s it! Now just use ¼ of a cup of your new homemade detergent per load and your clothes will be clean for a fraction of the cost of buying detergent at the store.

5. Buy High Efficiency Detergent or Buy Store Brand in Bulk

Newer washing machines are mostly energy efficient models that are labeled High Efficiency. These machines use a newer more concentrated detergent which means you can use less per load, sometimes as much as ¾ less. Even if your machine isn’t high efficiency, you can save money buying store brand in bulk. Most detergent is chemically similar so name buy generic and save.

6. Avoid Over Loading Your Machine

This applies to both your washer and drier. Just because you can fit more into the machine does not mean you should. By giving your clothes room to agitate in the washing machine more dirt can be knocked loose and giving more room for your clothes to fluff around in the drier will let your clothes dry faster. Not over loading your machine can help keep you from having to re-wash or dry your clothes more than once.

7. Wash In Cold Water

The majority of energy you use in washing your clothes comes from heating the water for the washing machine. Just switching from washing your clothes in hot water to washing in cold can cut your energy usage by 50%.

8. Adjust Your Water Level

If you aren’t washing a full load of clothes make sure you check the settings on your machine and turn the size down to a smaller load. Just taking a few seconds to double check and make sure you aren’t using too much water can save you a few dollars per month.

9. Use High Speed Spin Cycles

Using the high speed spin cycle, if your machine has it, is an easy energy efficient way to remove excess water from your clothing before you put it in the drier. Reduced drying time means lower energy costs per load so this is a no-brainer.

10. Line Dry Clothes

Drying your clothes on a clothes rack or line will save you bundles in energy costs by avoiding using your drier altogether. If you don’t have a drying rack or clothes line already, the cost to set these up is very low so there is no reason you shouldn’t dry at least some of your clothes by air after each load of laundry.

11. Clean the Dryer Lint Filter Every Load

You might overlook this and only clean the lint trap every few loads, but cleaning it every load will allow for better air flow in your dryer which means your clothes will dry much faster. You should also check the exhaust vent from your dryer to the exterior of your home periodically for lint buildup there as well.

12. Dry Similar Fabrics At The Same Time

Combining blue jeans with t-shirts will make the t-shirts take longer to dry. Think about the types of fabrics you are drying and put similar items together and set your dryer for that fabric. By keeping loads separate you will spend less time drying which just means less money spent on your energy bill.

13. Avoid Over Drying

By checking your clothes periodically you can better tell when clothes are dry and stop the machine when they are. Just checking your clothes at 30 minutes in and then every 10 minutes after you can probably save 20-30 minutes of drying time which isn’t necessary.

14. Use Off Peak Energy Hours

Many utility companies have lower rates for off-peak hours, which are generally evenings and weekends. To find out what your off-peak times are you can call your utility provider or check their website. You can save up to a couple dollars a week this way which will add up to several hundred dollars per year.

15. Skip Fabric Softener Sheets

Just like I described for making your own laundry detergent above, you can make your own fabric softener! Here is a quick and easy recipe to make your own fabric softener for a fraction of what even store brands might cost.

  • 2 cups of a hair conditioner that you enjoy the smell of
  • 6 cups of hot water
  • A mixing container

Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl or a pitcher until the liquid is smooth and that’s it! Make sure not to shake the mixture as that will lead to a foamy inconsistent product. Use about ¼ of a cup per load in your washing machine in place of brand name softener.

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