Inside: Discover easy steps you can take to lower the cost of doing laundry.
I’m sitting here listening to the washer and dryer running. Again.
As a family of four with most of us either doing sports or other workouts, we certainly generate enough laundry. It seems obvious that we would try to save money on laundry costs because with every load of laundry, we are paying for water, sewer, gas and electric.
Below are some things we’ve found that work to save money in the laundry room. Many of these tips work for the laundromat as well.
12 Ways to Save Money on Laundry
1. Use less soap
Does it seem counterintuitive that by using less soap, your clothes may get cleaner? If you are using too much laundry detergent, your clothes may not be getting fully rinsed and washer sensors may not properly detect when clothes are clean.
Start by reading directions on the bottle to verify the proper amount recommended. It is quite possible, thanks to confusing markings on caps, that you may be using too much detergent.
But don’t stop there.
The amount of detergent needed also depends on the size of the load, the hardness of your water and how soiled the clothing is. A load that fills more than ¾ of the tub can be considered a large load and would use a bit more detergent. And if you have soft water, you will likely need less detergent – maybe even only ⅓ of what is called for.
Another way to gauge how much detergent you should be using is to observe how your clothes look and feel. If your clothes are stiff, scratchy, dull or grey, then you may be using too much detergent. Try reducing the amount you use and see how your laundry appears.
2. Make your own detergent
Some people swear by making their own laundry detergent. Admittedly, this isn’t something I’ve tried yet. But given how costly detergent from the store is now, especially kinds that are “free and clear” for sensitive or allergy prone skin, it is certainly on my radar.
With a little bit of effort, you can put together ingredients to make inexpensive laundry soap. Recipes for homemade laundry detergent, powder or liquid, can be found all over the internet including Pinterest.
3. Chill out
You can also save money by using cold water for most loads with liquid detergents.
Why? Warm or hot water requires heating, which means you are paying for the water heater or washer to warm up water for the wash.
For extra heavily soiled loads, use warm water. But most liquid detergents work well with cold water and your clothes will still get clean.
4. Do full loads
If you can wait to do laundry until you have a full load, it will save water, energy, and time.
Why? No worries about separating the cold wash-only clothes from the rest. They can all go in together in one load rather than having a couple small loads. And who wouldn’t want to save time by doing just one load of clothes rather than multiple loads?
5. Air dry
A clothes dryer uses a fair amount of energy. If you can hang some, if not all, clothes up to dry, it will reduce energy used. Even indoors or with apartments, you can use a drying rack inside.
We have had a rack similar to this one for over 15 years now. It folds flat when not in use and does a great job holding items to dry. In college or for those without kids, a rack such as this would work well, too (I had one like this in college).
Sweaters and workout wear are great candidates for drying racks.
6. Skip the softener
Another way to cut back on laundry expenses is to skip the softener. A softener basically just coats the fibers of your clothes with gunk. In fact, using softener actually reduces the absorbency of towels.
As someone with a lot of skin allergies and scent aversions, skipping softener has never been a problem. If you really feel the need to use something, you can try 1-2 tablespoons of white vinegar in the rinse cycle, or use dryer balls to help fluff clothing. Many people find a clean tennis ball in the dryer works as well.
7. Use a front load washer
In general, a front load washer will use far less water and energy than your standard top load washers. Next time you replace your washer, look into a good front loader to cut down on your bills even further.
8. Wash less frequently
Does the item worn really need to be cleaned yet, or can it be worn again?
Of course, muddy jeans, shirts from smelly teens and underwear should be washed after one use. But what about skirts, jeans that haven’t seen abuse, or that sweater you wore over a t-shirt?
Often a sniff test will guide you.If you want a guide from experts, then check out information from the American Cleaning Institute. Basically, towels, jeans, pajamas, and more can all be used or worn a few times before getting thrown in the hamper.
9. Treat stains promptly
Have you ever treated a stain, crossed your fingers, and hoped it would come out in the wash? If you know the origins of the stain, you can stop sending the item through multiple times by treating the stain promptly and using the correct stain removers. The University of Illinois has a stain database you can use for reference.
10. Wash while you sleep
If your utility rates are based on time-of-use, try washing later at night or even programming the washer to start during low-rate hours. That alone could noticeably reduce your bills.
11. Clean the lint trap
Dryers use a lot of energy, and if the lint trap is full of lint, it takes longer for a wet load of wash to dry. Getting in the habit of clearing the lint trap before each use. Air flows more freely and drying time is reduced.
This tip may seem obvious to many of you, but we’ve heard many stories of people not aware of this and finding their lint trap so full it is hard to remove.
12. Clean out dryer duct
Just like the lint trap, the dryer ductwork should be cleaned out periodically. Once or twice a year, clear out the ductwork between the dryer and the outside vent. Lint can accumulate there making it not only take longer for clothes to dry but also poses a fire hazard.
Laundry is a chore, but saving money takes a bit of the sting out.