If you’re working towards FI, you know how important it is to save money on every expense you have. You can save money on virtually everything with just a little work–and that includes how to save money on laundry.
When I first started budgeting and working on saving money, I knew how important it was to scrutinize every expense–even basic living expenses.
Those basic living expenses have a way of duping you into believing they’re non-negotiable. But everything can be negotiated. For instance, you have to buy groceries, but you don’t have to buy at full price or buy the most expensive brands.You can save money on laundry by reducing energy expenses, using a friends washer and dryer instead of going to a laundromat, and even make your own detergent.
Ways To Save Energy While Doing Laundry
The same goes for laundry expenses. Of course, you have to wash and dry your clothes. However, there are ways to cut costs on laundry as well.
Mr. Electricity, Michael Bluejay, has a handy calculator that can give you some idea of what you’re currently spending to do laundry. The numbers might surprise you, but we’re going to show you how to spend less and still have clean clothes.
Wash More Clothes In Cold Water
Unless your clothes get really dirty, there’s not much need to use the warm or hot water cycle when washing clothes. In fact, the only time I use anything but cold water is when I’m washing items that need bleach, such as socks or rags.
Even then, I use the warm water cycle as opposed to the hot water cycle. If you or your spouse work in a job where work clothes get really dirty, or if your kids have dirty clothes from playing sports, you may need to use hot water.
Otherwise, try to stick to the cold water setting on your washer.
Wash Your Clothes During Off-Peak Hours
Washing your clothes during off-peak hours is another way to save money on laundry. For instance, my energy company designates 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. as off-peak hours. They charge less for energy used during this time.
For that reason, I try to do laundry either early in the morning or late at night if possible. Even if you can get one load a day in during off-peak hours, you’ll be saving some money.
Only Wash Full Loads If Possible
Sometimes you need to wash a small load of laundry, and most washing machines have settings for smaller loads. However, if you’re going to be using the energy anyway, you may as well wash a full load if possible.
If you don’t have enough dirty clothes for a full load, consider adding in occasional-wash items such as coats or blankets to fill the washer up completely.
Note: Full loads are great, but it's important not to overfill your washer or dryer. Doing so can put added stress on the systems, causing them to wear out faster.
Clean Your Lint Trap Out Regularly
Appliance experts always stress how important it is to clean your dryer’s lint trap after every load. In addition, clean the outside dryer vent screen that sits on the side of your house.
Doing so will ensure your dryer can heat and cool adequately. Bonus: having a clean lint trap and outside dryer vent helps avoid some of the fire hazards that can come from using clothes dryers.
Keep An Eye On Dryer Time
It’s easy to simply turn your dryer on for the longest cycle and just take the clothes out when they’re done. However, that can cost money if your dryer is running longer than needed.
Instead, keep an eye on the dryer load and stop it when you see the clothes are dry. Or, set the cycle for a shorter time period and add more time if you see the clothes still aren’t dry.
Hang Dry/Line Dry When Possible
Think of how much money you could save if you avoid using your dryer altogether. Why not install a clothesline in your yard? You’ll save money on energy bills, have less of an impact on the environment and get to enjoy more time outdoors.
During winter months or if you live in an apartment, you can hang dry your clothes on a drying rack.
Wash Your Clothes Less Often
Another way to use less energy on laundry is to simply not wash your clothes as often. It’s easy to get into the habit of washing a clothing item every time you wear it, but is that really necessary?
If you’re just wearing an outfit around the house, how dirty does it really get? Or if you put on an outfit to run to the store, and then got back into pajamas when you got home, does it need to be washed?
It’s okay to wear some items a couple of times before you wash them. And by doing so, you cut down on the number of times you have to wash them. Not only will this save energy, but it will help your clothes last longer too.
How To Save Money On Laundry Detergent And Fabric Softener
Besides saving money on energy usage, you can also save money on laundry by cutting down on detergent and fabric softener costs.
Make Your Own Laundry Detergent
Laundry detergent can be expensive, however, you can save money on detergent by making your own. I did this for years and it really is quite cheap. Making the laundry detergent takes an hour or so, but a homemade batch lasts me at least six months–even while doing laundry for six people. And it only costs me about $3 to make a batch. Here’s how it’s done.
- Go to the home improvement store and get a 5-gallon bucket with a lid.
- Buy a box of Borax powder, a bar of Fels Naptha Soap and a box of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda.
- Place four cups of water in a pot to boil. As it’s boiling, shred the bar of soap with a cheese grater.
- After the water starts boiling, turn the stove to medium/low, put the shredded soap into the hot water and stir frequently until the soap melts completely.
- When the soap is melted, turn the stove off. Fill your bucket halfway with very hot tap water.
- Pour the melted soap water in, add one cup of Borax powder and one cup of Washing Soda.
- Mix thoroughly until the powders and melted soap are completely combined.
- Fill the bucket up to the top with more hot water, and mix thoroughly again.
After the mixture is completely mixed, it may or may not start to take on kind of a gel-like consistency, and that’s perfectly normal. Cover the bucket, let it sit overnight and it’s ready to use.
I use roughly ¾ to one cup per full load for my top-loading washer. High-efficiency front loaders can get by with ½ a cup.
If making your own detergent isn't for you check out Dropps laundry pods. These non-toxic, plastic-free laundry pods are made without unnecessary fillers or dyes, and they're packaged in eco-responsible shipping containers.
And they are cheap. If you sign up for the subscription service each pod is only 17 each. By comparison, the average cost of laundry detergent is 21 cents per load.
In addition, Dropps pods are tough on dirt but gentle on your clothes, which means they'll help your clothes last longer. If you're looking for laundry pods that are environmentally friendly and will give you cleaner, longer-lasting clothes, you should try Dropps.
Use Less Detergent Than Called For
I don’t make my own laundry detergent anymore, but I still save money on the store-bought stuff. First, I buy a cheaper brand (Arm & Hammer is my favorite) and I buy it on sale.
Second, I use much less detergent than what they call for. In fact, I only use about ¼ of a cup for full loads. Honestly, I really don’t need to use more than that, and you probably don’t either.
Try cutting down on the amount of detergent you use and see if you notice a difference. I sure didn’t and I was buying detergent a lot less often.
Cut Your Dryer Sheets In Half
I love using dryer sheets to cut down on static electricity. However, I also love saving money. My solution? By the generic brand dryer sheets to save money–then cut them in half.
You’ll still get the same softening effect while spending a lot less cash.
Use Vinegar In Your Washer
If you want to avoid having to buy dryer sheets altogether, try using plain white vinegar in the fabric softener holding place on your washing machine. Your clothes will get that same fabric sheet effect–and no, they won’t smell like vinegar. I promise!
Make Your Own Dryer Ball
You can also save money on dryer sheets by making your own dryer ball. Don’t buy the store-bought dryer balls; instead, ball up a sheet of aluminum foil and use that as a way to reduce static in each load of laundry.
You should be able to get several dryer loads out of one aluminum foil dryer ball. You can also make homemade wool dryer balls to use in your dryer. Wool dryer balls can significantly reduce the drying time needed for your laundry and reduce static cling.
Skip The Fabric Softener
You could just skip the fabric softener altogether to save money. Personally, the static cling factor would drive me nuts, but if you don’t mind, then just skip it. Or, buy the laundry detergent that has fabric softener added.
Related: 12 Ways To Save Money On Groceries
How To Save On Laundry In An Apartment
If you live in an apartment you might be wondering how to save money on laundry in that situation. After all, you’re likely paying money for each load, either at the apartment’s laundry center or at a laundromat.
And those quarters can add up quickly. Following the rules above about using less detergent, using less fabric softener, making homemade cleaning products, washing less often and drying on a drying rack can help you save money if you live in an apartment too.
Ask To Use A Friend’s Or Family Member’s Washer And Dryer
Is it possible for you to use mom and dad’s washer and dryer? Or use the laundering facilities of another family member or friend?
Ask if you can use their washer and dryer. Bring your own soap and fabric softener. Then do something nice for them in exchange. Bring dinner over on the nights you do laundry. Or offer to clean the house.
Babysit their kids or offer to do some other chore that will help them out in exchange for their generosity.
Do Your Laundry By Hand
As I did the research for this article, a number of apartment dwellers suggested doing your laundry by hand. They wash them in the bathtub and dry them on a drying rack.
You may or may not find this a sufficient solution for saving money on laundry due to the time involved, but if you’re up for it, you will save some serious cash.
These ideas prove that you can cut costs in just about any area of expenditure with a little research and diligence. And the seemingly little cost savings will eventually add up to a big boost toward your FI journey.
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