Washing clothes is not only a cumbersome chore, but when done frequently enough, it may also add up to be a costly expense. The average family does 8 – 10 loads of laundry per week, with each load on average taking one hour and 27 minutes to complete.1 To cut costs (and cut down on time spent doing laundry), here are a few 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 cold washing to save additional money — 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 up to dry to eliminate the need for the automatic dryer. Additionally, your delicates will experience a much less abrasive cleaning cycle and may even last longer!
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, but apply it where you can to increase the life of your clothes and decrease the amount of time and money spent cleaning them.
4. Pack the Clothes In
Putting just a few items in the machine at a time — you know, when you want to wear your favourite 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 those few items. Otherwise, let the pile fill up until you can fill the washing machine up. While packing the machine is ideal, overpacking is not. Just like the powdered detergent that didn’t dissolve, overpacking 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? 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? Store brands can be just as effective and tend to be significantly cheaper than big name brands.
6. Make Your Own Detergent
Instead of running out to the supermarket every time you need detergent, consider 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 much less than any store-bought brand.
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. If purchasing a new system is not in the cards for you right now, consider using only your washer and line-drying your clothes to save energy on half of the laundry process.
1Leverette, M. M. (19 August 2016). Interesting laundry facts and trivia. Retrieved 17 April 2017, from https://www.thespruce.com/interesting-laundry-facts-and-trivia-2146486