10 Ways to Save Money when Doing Laundry

Laundry.  We all have to do it, right?  So why not save a little money while doing this necessary evil?  Follow the tips below and you’ll do just that!

1.  Wash only full loads
Doing this not only saves electricity, it also saves water and laundry detergent.  After all, we use pretty much the same amount of all of those things whether we do half a load or a full load, right?

2.  Look at those labels
This might sound obvious, but think about it.  When was the last time you read the instructions on the clothes that you are wearing right now?  If the item says “Wash in cold water” you might get by with using warm water but typically hot water is disastrous.  And if you dry “line dry only” items in the dryer, chances are that you’ll be greeted with a smaller version when you retrieve it thanks to the heat shrinking it.

Occasionally you can get by with ignoring the laundry labels, but it’s always good to check and make sure you at least know what is recommended.   I don’t personally follow every label to a “T” but I do recommend at least observing the two things I noted above: not washing “cold water only” items in hot water and not drying (at least not fully) “line dry only” items in the dryer.

3.  Wash in cold water
While some clothes require hot water to get them sanitized (think towels or gym clothes), most clothes get clean just fine using cold water.  At the very least, instead of using hot, use warm.

Curious how much you’ll save?  Check out how much energy is used depending on the temperature selected:

Chart Source

4.  Only launder when needed
Some of you might cringe at this one, but I honestly don’t think it is necessary to wash every item of clothing every time you wear it- especially things like sweaters that are worn over other pieces of clothing. Often we wear a piece of clothing for just a couple of hours and immediately call it dirty.  But is it really?

Wondering why it’s such a big deal to not over-launder?  Every time you wash a piece of clothing it wears it out, especially so if you use a dryer to dry it.  By not washing it as often, you can extend the life of your clothing a bit longer.

5.  Treat stains as soon as possible
The longer a stain sits on fabric, the more it soaks deeper into the fibers and then it becomes harder to get the stain out.  And if the stain dries it becomes even more difficult.  One trick that I use with baby clothes that are soiled by dirty diapers that leak is to at least keep them wet until I am able to treat the stain.  It helps me out in the long run!

While I’m talking about stains I thought I’d mention that two of my favorite stain fighters are Oxi-clean and FelsNaptha soap.  I love Oxi-Clean for stains that have set or just won’t come out with anything else.  It’s worked great at whitening old baby clothes too.  FelsNaptha soap is my go-to choice for a great an inexpensive stain remover.  I simply rub a bit of the soap on the stained area. wet it a bit and scrub a bit.  And most of the time the stain is gone!  I’ve used this on many things including grass stains.

6.  Cut back on the amount of laundry detergent
Did you know that you don’t have to use the full amount of most laundry detergents to get your clothes clean?  I’ve found that I can cut back sometimes as much as half the amount and not notice any difference.  Experiment a bit.  Hardness of water and the kind of laundry detergent makes it vary, but I can almost guarantee that you don’t need the full amount.  Oh and this tip goes for liquid fabric softener too!

7.  Use a Mesh Laundry Bag for Small or “Fragile” Items
This is one of my favorite laundry tips ever.  Everyone knows that mesh lingerie bags work great for laundering intimate articles of clothing.  But did you ever think of using them beyond those lacy pieces of clothing?

When my son was a baby I got so tired of trying to find his itty-bitty socks in the laundry.  They’d get stuck inside pant legs or just somehow mysteriously disappear.  So I started putting them in one of my mesh lingerie bags when I did the laundry.  It works like a charm.  No more lost socks around here!

I also use mesh lingerie bags for things like sweaters or my daughter’s delicate dresses that have lace or tulle on them.  Anything that seems like it might easily get caught on another piece of clothing gets tossed into one of my bags.  It has definitely helped keep my clothes looking newer much longer!

8.  Turn clothes inside out
While I love using my mesh lingerie bags I can’t use them for everything.  Some things are just too big.  Dresses, sweaters and other items that might snag or pull get turned inside out reducing the chances of any damage happening to the outside.  Again, a simple thing, but one that has helped me keep my clothing look nicer for longer.

9.  Avoid using your dryer 
Did you know that most households can save $25 a month by not using a dryer?  Not only do dryers hog electricity, they also are hard on your clothes.  (Where do you think all that lint comes from?)  Use a clothes line or a drying rack as much as possible.  And if you must use a dryer, don’t use it any longer than necessary.  Over-drying clothes quickly weakens the fibers reducing the life of your clothing.

We live in the city and don’t have much space but we found a retractable clothesline that we use outside that works really well.  I love being able to hang laundry out!  Between that and our drying rack we use our dryer very little.  When I do use it, it’s often just to “fluff” our clothes.  I’ve learned that by drying our clothes for about 15 minutes in the dryer before we hang them, I rarely have to iron anything- it fluffs them just enough to get the wrinkles out.

Just a quick personal story.  My husband and one of his friends were talking about their electric costs and discovered that his friend’s electric bill was consistently at least $30 more a month than ours.  After discussing it a bit they figured out that the only big thing we do differently is use our dryer very little.  That was an interesting discovery to me.  I knew not using our dryer much saved us money but I didn’t realize it was that much!

10.  Keep dryer lint cleaned out
Again, a no-brainer, but something that is so easy to forget to do!  But by keeping your dryer vents cleaned out you can save up to 30% of your dryer’s typical electricity usage because your dryer doesn’t have to work as hard.

Have you done any of these things and noticed a difference?  What do you do to save money on laundry?

Image Credit: Shutterstock- Clothes hanging to dry on a clothesline

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  1. by Ev Dunnigan

    On April 18, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    I also put delicates or items with buttons or beads, including stuffed toys, in a pillowcase and secure it to wash in cold/delicate to protect them. For travel or students, another laundry idea is to thread a cord through the hem of a pillowcase and put all the dirties in it to wash when you have the chance. It can still be used as a pillowcase/pillow if needed too!

  2. by Lydia Beiler

    On April 18, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Ev, great idea! That would be similar to the mesh lingerie bag but I’m sure you could get a lot more in. Plus we all have pillowcases around, right? Thanks for sharing!

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