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Laundry is a necessity of life and sometimes an expensive one.
We all love to save money, but how can you lower the cost of washing your clothes?
You can save money on laundry in several key ways:
- Managing energy use on your washing machine and dryer with short cycles, cold water, and load size
- Using less detergent and fabric softener
- Letting your clean clothes hang dry
- Running appliances outside of peak electricity use times
Sounds easy enough, right?
This is just the tip of the iceberg, though.
There are more tricks you can use to save money on laundry.
In this post, I’ll talk about doing laundry more efficiently, using less energy, and some price comparisons between doing laundry at home and the laundromat.
Table of Contents
17 Ways To Save Money On Laundry
#1. Wear Clothes More Than Once
We’re all guilty of wearing an item once and then throwing it in the laundry room, but do you need to wash everything after one use?
Items like t-shirts and underwear should always be washed after wearing them, but other everyday things, like jeans and sweaters, can be worn more than once.
Before you throw your clothes into the hamper, ask yourself if they are dirty.
If you just wore them to run a few errands, you can get away with putting them back and wearing them again.
#2. Use Shorter Cycles
Washing your clothes on the shortest possible cycle will save you time, energy, and money.
Many washers, especially energy star or other high-efficiency washers, will have a “quick wash” cycle, so check all the settings.
Unless your clothes are very soiled, this cycle is sufficient for regular washing.
Dryers also typically have timed cycles, but many clothes, especially synthetic fabrics, will dry much faster than the recommended length of the cycle.
To avoid over-drying, set a shorter time or remove the clothes once they’ve dried.
If your dryer has a moisture sensor, make good use of it.
The moisture sensor will end the cycle once all clothes are dry instead of waiting for a timed cycle.
#3. Use Cold Water
Water temperature makes a difference when it comes to your laundry.
Nowadays, many laundry detergents are formulated to work well with the cold setting and the traditional warm wash cycles of conventional models.
Washing with cold water saves money and energy, and you won’t have to worry about your clothes shrinking or fabrics bleeding.
If you need hot water to get some laundry clean, reduce the temperature on your washer or hot water heater to conserve energy.
Also, wash them separately from any items you could wash in cold water.
#4. Use Less Detergent
Many people use much more liquid detergent than they need to.
This can lead to all sorts of issues.
First, your clothes won’t be rinsed of all the detergent, so they will be crunchy to the touch and could trap odors.
Second, the extra detergent is hard on your washer too.
Using more detergent than you need can clog pumps and motors, causing you to pay hefty repair bills.
Be sure to double-check your laundry detergent for instructions on how much should be used for different sized loads, then use as little laundry detergent as you can.
#5. Don’t Use Fabric Softener
In addition to being a money-saving measure, fabric softener can have some detrimental effects on some clothing items.
The liquid coats your clothing to make it feel softer, but this liquid is filled with chemicals.
It can also damage your clothes too.
For example, it can reduce the moisture-wicking properties of items like bath towels and workout clothes.
And this coating also applies to your washer and can cause increased maintenance costs.
The ideal solution is to skip the fabric softener altogether, but if you insist on using one, here are two safer and less expensive options.
Homemade Recipe #1
- 6 cups distilled white vinegar
- 1 cup baking soda
- 15 drops of essential oils (optional)
Mix the vinegar and essential oils and then add the baking soda and store it in a sealed container.
Add 1 cup per load.
Reviews of this recipe are good, but many people find the following formula better.
Homemade Recipe #2
- 5 cups hot water
- 3 cups distilled white vinegar
- 1 cup hair conditioner
Mix the water and conditioner, then add the vinegar and store it in a sealed container.
Add 1/2 cup per load.
Use either of these formulas or skip the fabric softener altogether and save money.
#6. Skip Dryer Sheets
Many people use dryer sheets to soften the feel of their clothes.
But these sheets do the same thing as a fabric softener, which is harming some of your clothes and your washer and dryer.
You are better off saving your money or looking for an alternative solution if you insist on the soft feeling of your clothing.
#7. Consider Using Dryer Balls
Speaking of alternatives to dryer sheets, consider dryer balls.
They are the size of a tennis ball made out of wool.
Putting them into your dryer lowers the static electricity and softens your clothes.
Plus, they last a few years, so spending $10 goes a long way.
#8. Use Aluminum Foil
Take two sheets of aluminum foil and form two balls with them.
Then throw them into the washer.
They help keep your clothes separate and not bunch into balls, providing a more thorough cleaning.
When you switch your load of laundry over, you can throw the aluminum foil balls into the dryer, and they will work similarly to the wool balls mentioned above.
#9. Line Dry Your Clothes
Skipping the dryer altogether can be a great way to lower energy costs.
Once you’ve got your clothes clean, you have a few options for drying.
- Drying rack. This is an excellent option for drying clothes indoors or outdoors. However, drying racks can sometimes be too small for large loads.
- Hang dry. Drying clothes on your balcony or backyard can be an excellent choice. If you don’t have much access to fresh air, you can even hang clothes inside to dry. An added benefit is in the winter months, the wet clothes can add humidity back into your house.
- Outdoor clothesline. Outdoor line drying is excellent if you have enough clothes and good weather. Line drying in the sun and fresh air is an amazing, energy-efficient, and cost-effective alternative.
#10. Use Generic Detergent
Store brand detergent costs less money and cleans just as well.
The Kirkland brand of laundry detergent is consistently ranked as one of the best performing brands to clean clothes.
At the very least, make it a point to shop around to find the best prices on detergent.
Many grocery stores will have higher prices than discount stores like Target or Amazon.
- Read now: Learn how to save money shopping online
#11. DIY Detergent
Take the above point one step further, and you can make your own detergent.
There are mixed reviews out there, with some people saying these options work great, while others say the DIY versions aren’t great at removing tough stains.
Here is one famous recipe to try.
- 4 1/2 ounces shaved bar soap
- 14 ounces borax
- 14 ounces washing soda
Simply mix ingredients to great a powder and then use 1/2 to 1 tablespoon per load.
This recipe makes 32 ounces of detergent.
There are other recipes out there, plus all sorts of homemade cleaning products you can create to save money.
#12. Take Advantage Of The Spin Cycle
Your washer uses less energy than your dryer, so the drier you can get your clothes first, the more money you will save.
This is where the spin cycle comes into play.
It is recommended that you use the highest spin cycle for your clothing so that the most excess water is removed.
This will considerably lessen the drying time.
And for some fabrics, your clothes will be a little damp, allowing you to quickly air dry them.
#13. Do Full Loads
Use your washer less often by doing fewer loads.
By waiting until you have a full load of laundry, you will save money on water.
Plus, you will have more free time as you won’t be going to the washer multiple times a week to wash a small load.
#14. Put A Dry Towel In The Dryer
Another drying trick is to put a dry bath towel with the wet clothes in the dryer.
This helps speed up the drying process, lowering the cost of electricity.
#15. Use A Low Heat Setting
High heat can shorten the life span of your clothing, and it uses the most energy.
Using a lower heat setting, you protect your clothing and use less energy, even if you have a longer drying time.
#16. Perform Regular Maintenance
You must perform regular maintenance on your washer and dryer to get the most life out of them.
For your washer, make sure you leave the door open if it is a front load washer so it can air out.
This is because the rubber seal is prone to mildew growth.
You also will want to give the seal a good clean every month too.
Another monthly maintenance item is to clean the washer tub.
Most newer machines have a clean tub cycle where you run it without clothing.
In some cases, you can add vinegar to this cycle to clean the tub or add in a special cleaning solution.
Finally, inspect the hot and cold water hoses and replace them every few years.
Make sure you clean out the dryer’s lint trap after every cycle.
A clogged lint filter will lower the efficiency and cost you more money.
You also will want to inspect the duct.
If you have access to it, make sure it is sealed properly too, and clean out the dryer vent as this too can get clogged with lint.
Doing these simple things will extend the life of your machines and lower repair costs.
#17. Buy New Machines
Finally, you might consider buying new machines if yours are old.
Most are energy star certified, lowering the amount of electricity used and saving money.
And a new high-efficiency washer uses the least amount of water possible.
When it comes to your dryer, you might consider a gas dryer if you have the right connections.
These tend to conserve more energy than electric versions.
You can check out the energystar website to find a list of machines to consider if replacing yours makes financial sense.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are a lot of common questions about the ways to save money on laundry.
Here are the ones I get asked about the most.
When should I do laundry to save money?
If you have a washer and clothes dryer at home in your laundry room, there are certain hours when you can wash clothes to save energy and save money.
These are called off-peak hours.
For example, washing clothes in the early morning during the summer saves money on laundry because the utility costs are lower in the few hours before everyone turns on their air conditioning.
In winter, you should wash clothes in the evening when people turn their thermostats down after dinner.
How big should my laundry load be?
Another method of saving money is only to wash your clothes when you have a large load.
Running your machines more frequently will cost you more money because you use more energy.
In that case, you should wait until you have full loads before doing laundry.
To be efficient with this process, you can decide to wear many clothes in one color family, so you’ve got enough together to run a full load by the end of the week.
A word of caution on this, though.
Be careful not to overload your washing machine. A wash load with too many clothes won’t get as clean and can damage your washing machine.
Check your washer’s manual to find the recommended load size.
Even if you want to run fewer loads to save money, it’s more efficient in the long run just to wash more than one load and be kind to your washing machine.
Is it cheaper to do laundry by hand?
Hand washing clothes will save money on laundry.
Hand washing doesn’t require electricity to run, or have you take a trip to the laundromat.
But giving your clothes a hand wash does take a significant amount of time and effort and can use a lot of water if you keep it running.
Washing clothes is easy nowadays thanks to electronic washing machines with their automatic cycles and spins, but hand washing doesn’t have any of that.
It’s up to you to scrub away any dirt, remove moisture from your clothes, and find a place for your hanging clothes to line dry.
A pretty tall order, especially if you’re living in a small space.
Expect that any hand-washed clothing won’t get as clean or dry as quickly as loads you put through the machine.
That being said, clothes with small, oily stains can easily be hand washed to save money, especially if you don’t have a full load of laundry to go with it.
Just use a bit of laundry detergent in your sink and scrub away.
Is it cheaper to do laundry at home or a laundromat?
Running a load of laundry at home costs about $2-3, though rates depend on your location, the season, and the time of day.
However, this doesn’t consider the cost of buying and maintaining your washer and dryer.
Of course, if you take care of your machines, they will last a long time.
In contrast, the average cost for using a washer and dryer at the laundromat is around $3-4.
Though it seems counterintuitive, doing your laundry at a laundromat may be more cost-effective.
There are the many ways for how to save money on laundry.
By using these tips and tricks, you can not only save money on the cost of electricity, water, and gas, but also keep your machines running longer with fewer maintenance issues.
You will also save time too, as you will be doing fewer loads.
So make sure to start using some of these tips and lower the costs of washing your clothes.