Laundry Tips for Saving Money
You wouldn’t think laundry tips would bring many opportunities to save money, but they do. Here is a discussion of how I practice frugal living in the laundry room.
I do laundry almost every day, so saving a little bit of money each time I do a load is meaningful to me. If you have a big family, it will be meaningful to you too.
When using the washer, use cold water for just about everything. This frugal living tip helps cut down on the energy you use to heat water, and that will save money.
You’ll find that heating water is the single largest energy consumer when it comes to washing clothes.
The photo to the right shows how my washer is set for doing all my clothes. I rarely use hot water.
When getting anti-perspirant stains out of clothes, hot water is recommended. No other dirt or stain removal requires hot water. If fact, many stains come out better in cold water.
Blood for example is best treated with cold water.
Let the water heater work for you when you take a shower. With rare exception, your clothes won’t look any less clean in cold water. And, hot water doesn’t kill “germs” any better either. You’ll have plenty of heat to do that in the dryer.
Try this and other laundry tips on a few loads of wash and see if you agree with what my experience is telling me.
Be careful to use just a little soap when washing clothes. This is another of the household tips that will help you save money.
The photo on the right shows how much soap I used on a full load of wash. The manufacturer's laundry tips recommend filling to the line marked "1" and I use about half. This soap is concentrated, so using less is even more appropriate.
Look at the surface of the water in the washing machine during the wash cycle. If you see an inch deep layer of soap bubbles that covers the entire surface, then you are using too much soap.
Listen to the washer. If you hear a muffled sound instead of a water splashing sound, this means you have a heavy layer of soap bubbles on the surface of the water.
You should see just a handful of bubbles on the surface due to soap. Any more, and you are wasting soap.
The photo to the right shows just about the right amount of soap in the wash. You can see some bubbles, but there isn't a heavy layer.
This load could even use a bit less.
One way to prove the validity of any of the laundry tips is to test them. If you put clean clothes back in the washer and run a cycle using no soap at all, and you see soap bubbles, then you are using too much soap.
If you use less soap, you save money. A large jug of liquid laundry detergent that costs about $16 should last almost a year if you are the only one doing laundry. I use about one quarter of what the manufacturer recommends, and that works just fine.
Try this; keep track of all the loads that you do with a complete box or jug of soap. Now, compare that with what the manufacturer says you should be able to do.
You’ll likely find that you can easily do twice the number of loads and still have perfectly clean laundry.
A good rule to follow is to use from one half to one quarter of what the soap manufacturer tells you to use. They want you to use up the product so you’ll buy more. You just want clean clothes. If a smaller amount of soap is doing the job, then why use more?
Of course, when washing very dirty clothes, you’ll want to use more soap to do the job.
Also, wash full loads to reduce unnecessary water use and wear and tear on the machine, but don't inhibit proper circulation of your clothes by overloading. Your clothes should circulate freely in the water or they won't get clean. The idea behind this laundry tip is avoid washing just
a few things at a time. Instead, make each load count.
One last laundry tip for the washer. Try to avoid using extended wash times unless they are necessary for excessively dirty clothes. Excessive wash times consume more energy and wear out your clothes. Usually a few minutes of washing is all that is necessary.
Here is another of the laundry tips that is easy to implement. When drying clothes, use a lower heat setting on the dryer. I like to think that clothes should be dried, not baked. Using the high setting and drying them until they are bone dry is just a waste of energy.
The dial shown to the right suggests that it is appropriate to dry "knits" on low. Well, I am here to tell you that everything dries just fine on low. It takes longer, but using lower heat saves you money.
I'm certain you'd like to know the "why" behind some of these laundry tips, so here's why: The lower the setting, the more you benefit from air circulation. The higher the setting, the more you benefit from heat.
Heat costs much more than air circulation, so you get diminishing returns on what you pay for heat as you raise the temperature.
This is another of the laundry tips that help save money by reducing the energy you use. Turn down the heat and save.
Besides, dress shirts often come out better if you take them out when they are less dry and hang them up on a hanger until they are completely dry. Everything else can dry a bit more, but using a lower temperature setting should work just fine.
Also, when the dryer cycle is finished, tumble the clothes again for about 10 minutes without any heat. This action will use the residual heat in the clothes to help finish drying them. Just use that stored up heat to finish drying on the "tumble", "fluff" or “air” setting on the dryer.
Again, using the "air only" cycle, you take advantage of the benefits of air circulation that costs very little when compared to the cost of heating the dryer.
Do you have enough laundry tips to help you save money on energy? How about one more? Would heating your house with the dryer help save some money? Yes it will.
If you have an electric dryer, you can disconnect the discharge line and cover it with an old nylon stocking. Plug up the discharge vent opening with some rags to stop cold air and animals from coming into the house.
Run the dryer as you normally would, but periodically monitor the lint build up inside the nylon. Replace when full of lint.
The heat from the dryer helps add moisture and heat to the house. Why vent it outdoors and lose it?
Important Note: Electric dryers only. Do not do this with a gas dryer because combustion products from gas appliances should be vented to the outside.
Jessica sent in a suggestion to add to this pile of laundry tips - hanging your close on the line. At first I wondered how I could have missed this, and then I noticed that this article tells about how I do it, and I don't usually hang up my clothes.
Nevertheless, this belongs in the bag of laundry tips and tricks. Here is what you can do to hang your clothes out to dry:
- use a clothes line outdoors - I've even seen this in the winter in Alaska
- set up your clothes line on a porch with an overhang - it's rain proof (but not storm proof)
- put a clothes line in the basement or a larger seldom used room like a screened-in porch or sunroom
- hang dry clothes in the garage
- use drying racks for sweaters and such
On the left is an example of the type of outdoor clothes hanger my mother used when I was a kid, and I had one just like it when I lived in California. This type of collapsible clothes hanger
installs in a concrete pour in the backyard.
The hanger collapses when not in use and can be removed and relocated in the garage during bad weather or when that area of the yard is needed for other activities.
Here in Wyoming, laundry tips like "hanging out the wash" aren't used much because we have so much wind and lots of dust in the air. However, many others across the country can use these tips and save the expense of running heat through the clothes dryer.
The electric clothes dryer is a big energy consumer, so if you can cut out using the dryer, you'll likely save some money, perhaps $25 on your electric bill each month.
If you're interested in a retractable clothes line, here's one from Whitney that looks like it will do the job. This would be ideal for in the basement or on a porch, as it rolls up and stays out of the way when you're not using it. That adds to the convenience and value of the product.
Look for more laundry tips as I share my approach to frugal living (and that of others) in the laundry room.
Done with Laundry Tips, tak me back to Frugal Living Tips