The average American family washes almost 400 loads of laundry each year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Wow, that’s a lot of wash. Even if you do less than that, your bills still add up for electricity and laundry products. Fortunately, here are seven easy ways to save – and make less work for yourself on wash day, too.
1. Use Cold Water
Use cold water whenever possible. Grandma’s old advice to use hot water was fine for the heavy fabrics, bleach and harsh soaps of her day. But with modern materials and detergents, you really don’t need hot water, except maybe for towels or cloth diapers. And you especially want to avoid hot water for dark or brightly colored items.
2. Hang Dry Clothes
Fresh air and sunshine are a lot cheaper than running electric dryers. If you don’t have room for a clothesline, the weather isn’t favorable, or your community doesn’t allow one, buy an inexpensive indoor drying rack to hang dry most of your laundry. Also, air-dry damp shirts on hangers and they’ll need less ironing. Save the dryer for larger, heavier items like sheets, towels and jeans. By the way, cold water washes and air drying will prolong the life of your clothes (heat and hot water break down fibers) so you’ll also save money on replacing your wardrobe.
Cut down on your weekly laundry load; think twice before you toss something in the wash. Obviously, socks, underwear and some other things need to be washed after each wearing. But what about sweaters, sweatshirts or shirts that are worn over other shirts? If they’re not stained, and not worn next to your body, they can probably go more than once between laundry washes. Even jeans don’t need to be washed after each wearing if they’re not stained.
4. Buy Generic
Be a brand hopper. Check flyers from supermarkets, drugstores and discount stores to find the best detergent bargains and stock up on whatever brand is on sale. And check for online coupons. Procter & Gamble makes several popular detergent brands such as Tide. You can get some nice coupons if you sign up on their free consumer site, Everyday Solutions
5. Use Less Detergent
Read directions carefully. A lot of folks just fill up the liquid detergent measuring cap to the top, when they don’t need to. Look at the instructions on the bottle. You may be surprised where the actual fill line is (and remember to use even less if you don’t have a full load). Also, depending on your local water conditions, you may be able to use less detergent. Experiment and you might find out your clothes will be just as clean with half a capful.
6. Cut Your Dryer Sheets
Go halfsies – cut your dryer sheets in half with a scissors. Your clothes will still smell nice and cling less, but for half the money you would normally spend on dryer sheets.
7. Buy An Energy Efficient Washer & Dryer
If you are in the market to buy a new washer, look for one with the federal ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR-qualified clothes washers use about 30% less energy and use over 50% less water than regular washers. Get more info from the U.S. Goverment’s Energy Star site.
Photo Credit via Flickr