Washing clothes is not only a cumbersome chore, but it’s also expensive. To cut costs on getting your clothes clean, here are seven frugal tips that won’t have you throwing money down the drain.
1. Use Less Detergent
So many people dump a full cap or scoop of detergent – or even more – into the machine before they start the wash cycle. The truth is, depending on the size of your load, half to three-quarters of your regular amount of detergent will get your clothes just as clean as if you used the full amount. The benefit of using less soap for each wash is that it will last longer, so you won’t have to buy a new bottle or box as often. Another tip to save money on detergent is to use liquid instead of powder. The powder sometimes doesn’t dissolve fully – especially if you’re trying to save additional money by cold washing – which will require you to wash the load again.
2. Try Hand Washing
Nobody wants to wash cloths by hand when they have an automatic machine. But if you want to save money on the energy costs associated with running warm or hot cycles, consider tossing a load in the bathtub with some detergent to get them clean. It could be fun. How often to you get to stir and stomp on your clothes? Once you’ve wrung them out, hang them to dry to eliminate the need for the automatic dryer.
3. Wear Non-Stained Items Twice
If the clothes you’ve just worn don’t have stains or any offensive smells, there’s no need to wash them. Some items get stretched out during the first wearing – like T-shirts and sweaters – but jeans definitely don’t have to be washed after every wearing if you’ve kept them clean. This method isn’t appropriate for all items, however; underwear should always be considered one-wear only.
4. Pack the Clothes In
Putting just a few items in the machine at a time – you know, when you want to wear your favorite button-down and pants twice in one week – is like flushing money down the toilet. If you want to wear something before you plan to wash all your dirty clothes, hand wash them. Otherwise, let the pile fill up until you can fill the washing machine up. While packing the machine is ideal, over packing is not. Just like the powdered detergent that didn’t dissolve, over packing the machine will cause some of the clothes to come out still dirty, forcing you to repeat the cycle.
5. Switch to a Less Expensive Detergent
It’s hard to get people to switch brands, but if a cheaper laundry detergent will get your clothes just as clean as a more expensive one, isn’t it worth a try? Personally, I use Purex or Arm & Hammer brands, which I consider to be middle of the road in terms of cost – and I’ve never had a problem with the cleanliness of my clothing. Tide, on the other hand, is comparatively much more expensive and the results, in my opinion, aren’t any better than the lower-priced brands. I will admit, though, that I stay away from the bargain brands – those super-low-priced detergents whose prices are too good to be true. I’ve found that they don’t do as good a job at cleaning my clothes as the middle-of-the-road brands, which is a waste of money in the long run.
6. Make Your Own Detergent
Instead of running out to the supermarket every time you run out of detergent, considering making your own. This recipe for homemade laundry detergent yields more than three gallons of laundry liquid, which will last you much longer and cost you incredibly less than any store-bought brand.
Laundry Detergent Recipe
4 cups of water
1/3 bar of cheap soap, grated
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
5-gallon bucket for mixing
3 gallons of water
First, mix the grated soap in a saucepan with 4 cups of water. Heat on low until the soap is completely dissolved. Add hot water/soap mixture to 3 gallons of water in the 5-gallon bucket. Stir in the washing soda and borax, and continue stirring until thickened. Let the mix sit for 24 hours. After a day, it’s ready to use.
7. Invest in an Energy-Efficient Machine
Buying an energy efficient washing machine and dryer may not pay off in the beginning, but it will pay off in the end. Energy-efficient machines use less water and require less detergent per cycle, so you’ll save money with every wash. All energy-efficient models these days are advertised as such, so you won’t have trouble finding the perfect one for your home.