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Tips to Save Money on Laundry

While trying to save money on electricity, water, and laundry, I've learned some good habits worth sharing.

Sunshine is less expensive than electricity and clothes can smell a whole lot fresher.  Try it!

Sunshine is less expensive than electricity and clothes can smell a whole lot fresher. Try it!

Wash Your Clothes for Less

Everything's getting more expensive. It seems like every month or two something has gone up: electricity, water, gasoline, natural gas, and the list goes on. Income does not rise to meet these increased demands for utilities. What can a person do—except become crafty like a fox!

I don't say that I am, but I have learned some good habits worth sharing. Try these simple tips and see if your electric, water, and laundry expenses don't go down as well.

The Cost of Kilowatt Hours

First of all, find out how much kilowatt hours cost in your area. I was surprised to learn that between the hours of 9 pm and 6 am (slightly different in the summertime), the cost is only 50%.

I also found out that the most expensive time to wash clothes (or bake, use the dishwasher, or whatever) is Monday–Friday during business hours because it's the time that most businesses are open.

Informed is well-armed. Now I knew what I had to do. Wash clothes whenever possible after 9 pm. It's not such a tough thing to do...

Use a Biologically Friendly Detergent

I went searching for a good-quality detergent without any added fragrances, which do the most damage to the environment. I found a good one—concentrated—and have been happy with the results.

Pre-Treat Before Washing

OK, we all know how to wash clothes. I try to soak them (if they need it) during the day. When 9 pm rolls around, in they go. The pre-treating helps to remove stains and saves money in the washing cycle.

Use the Delicate Cycle

Since most of us don't go around digging ditches for a living, our clothes are mostly dirty from office sweat or stress sweat, plus a little hard work sweat. That dirty, grimy, mechanic greasy dirt that is always shown on the TV detergent ads is not a common problem.

This leads to my next point. Are we overkilling our clothes in the washing machine?

After a day or two's wear, maybe that office sweat can be easily removed in the delicate cycle, which is about half the length of time and half the expense as the full cycle. I mostly wash all my family's clothes on delicate except for whites, really filthy clothes, seasonal washing like a bed cover, or some other "once in a while" project.

By the way, did you know that stuffed animals wash really well in the dishwasher? No kidding!

A dishwasher's many uses! Stuffed animals, plastic action figures and other toys, baseball caps, tennis shoes, and hairbrushes come out squeaky clean after a trip in the multi-practical dishwasher.

A dishwasher's many uses! Stuffed animals, plastic action figures and other toys, baseball caps, tennis shoes, and hairbrushes come out squeaky clean after a trip in the multi-practical dishwasher.

Separate Clothes for Play and Clothes for School

It took a little time to get used to, but when I come home from visiting a friend, having coffee, shopping, or going to the kids' school, I change my clothes immediately. I run, not walk, to the bedroom and put on something "a little more comfortable."

At home, I wear my sweat suit for cooking, working around the house, and writing articles. It's comfortable, and if I get a food spot on it while cooking, it's not a crisis. The only problem is that it's hard to get out of it when I need to go to the store or something! OK—send one of the kids.

Keep Your "Good" Clothes Clean Longer

My "good" clothing stays clean for longer. I may use the same outfit half a dozen times without having to wash it because it's only worn an hour or two each day. This helps save money on washing, too, and clothes stay newer-looking longer. Win-win.

It Works Especially Well for Kids

This is great for active kids, too. When they come home from school, they need to get into the habit of changing their clothes. The ones with a patch on the knee which are slightly worse for wear are great to romp around in. I try to keep them separate from the ones they wear to church, school, and other nicer events.

Play means rough-housing, so why take a chance? With a little luck, they can wear the same jeans to school for a day or two or three and maybe just change their shirt the second day. The play clothes can get fairly dirty, and by week's end after a whole lot of abuse, they too will get thrown into the washing machine.

The washing machine is not so new.  Even in ancient times, women would use a natural whirlpool to help them wash clothing more efficiently.

The washing machine is not so new. Even in ancient times, women would use a natural whirlpool to help them wash clothing more efficiently.

Frugal Washing Machine Tips

More ways to save money, you may ask? Yes, absolutely.

Before I start my laundry, I soak it in medium to hot water (colored or whites determine this) and let it soak again. The washing machine is at "OFF," but it's sitting in warm water with detergent and already starting to clean. A half-hour later, I start it up again.

The whole idea, I guess you could say, is to get the maximum out of my detergent. Just throwing in the soap and letting it start seems to miss out on the opportunity for it to "ruminate" and really soak up all those cleaning agents. It works best when clothes are pretty dirty. This tip works, and the clothes do come out looking pretty darned clean.

Dry Your Clothes Outside

Whenever possible, instead of using electricity, I love to dry my clothes in the fresh air. This is not always possible for people living in a large city, but I did know one woman who hung her clothes out at 10 pm and picked them up again in the early morning hours. They looked great!

Using natural means to dry them will save a bundle - automatically half - if you are used to drying every load. During moist or rainy weather I do what I can and then finish the job on the furnace, draped over a chair.


Suzan Atkinson-Haverty on August 23, 2019:

My bill in MA went up to 650.00 per month and it is only my husband and myself and two German Shepherds. We were in shock! So I began to wash with cold water, instead of hot. I cut down the washing time on the regular wash cycle. But I am now going to go to the Delicate cycle which makes sense. Then I began to wash clothes in the evening after 7:00pm. I got the bill to go down to 350.00. I tried to dry our clothes outside, we live in the woods, but we have so much dog fur, and the dryer gets rid of that. But I really paid attention to putting the setting at the lowest on the dryer. I can now keep the bill in half. MA is a super rip off on electricity for everyone. It is a real rape job living here in this state for all of us. We play games jumping from company to company when they offer lower rates. We are doing this constantly.

Kimberly Cabanas on January 28, 2017:

Try soap berries (soap nuts) They are tremendously effective, cheap, and completely biodegradable. It's the dried fruit of a particular tree that grows in the himalayas. Throw about 4 of them in an old sock, tie it up, dampen it, and toss it into a load of laundry you're washing on warm or hot. I swear, it gets my laundry every bit as clean as Tide did. Also, for stain pretreating.. rub an old fashioned laundry bar on the stain and then spray it with hydrogen peroxide (from any dollar store or drug store.) That trick has removed grease, berry juice, wine, and blood. I swear by it. I'm glad I found your blog.

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on October 25, 2013:

Hey everyone, have great news too good to keep to myself. I just got my electric bill for October. Can you believe it, I have OVERPAID my electric bill, which is prorated for six months a year and recalculated again in the autumn. I paid the equivalent of more than two months in advance. I was trying to be frugal, wash clothes at night, and the dishwasher as well... keep my hot water heater going all day cuz I hate cold showers. These tips REALLY WORK!!!

Happy saving...

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on October 24, 2013:

Good to hear it! Maybe you just have good instincts! I too automatically run the machines on the night shift. Morning, brew the coffee and put out the laundry from the night before. Honestly, my neighbor is jealous why I pay slightly more than half her electric bill - she lives alone and I with two kids. Being thrifty IS a virtue :) thanks for commenting and voting!

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on October 24, 2013:

Good advice, Anastasia - I do most of my laundry in the evenings, anyway, and always run the dishwasher at night. Looks as though I was saving money without being aware of it! Now that I know, my routine feels virtuous....

Voted Up++


LauraGSpeaks from Raleigh, NC on October 24, 2013:

Good tips! I am always doing LOTS of laundry during the daytime hours. I will now try to change my habits. Thanks!

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on October 24, 2013:

Now that winter is here, and the cost of heat and electricity can be more than they should be, these handy tips can really reflect in significant savings for the family budget. Weathering out the colder months without breaking the bank is certainly my goal. Cheers, ECAL

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on February 06, 2013:

I just did some research and got the numbers for Croatia, at least. The KwH for prime time energy usage is 1.14, but the "night shift" rate is only .56 per KwH, so it really pays to wait a little to turn on the dishwasher or the washing machine. Cheers, Anastasia

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on September 08, 2012:

You are more than welcome, Efficient Admin. Hope that the delicate cycle works out well for you. Sounds like you are on the right track, already. Best to you, Anastasia

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on September 08, 2012:

Hi Angela Michelle, sorry for not responding sooner. Air dried is efficient and yes the dryer tumbles them for an extra warm and fluffy feel. A good bio-friendly softener is helpful, too. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Anastasia

Michelle Dee from Charlotte, NC on September 08, 2012:

I never thought about using the delicate cycle for clothes that are not actually stained. I do use delicate for clothes that I wear to work M-F such as dress pants, dress shirts, suits, etc. and then air dry them in the bedroom, since where I live it is not allowed to dry clothes on the balconies. I use regular cycle for the towels, sheets, underclothes and then put those in the dryer on low heat for about 30 minutes and they come out dry, but perhaps I will try using the delicate cycle for those as well since they are not that dirty. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and useful.

Angela Michelle Schultz from United States on May 21, 2012:

We just moved and my husband is going to be putting a drying line. I've never used one before, but his grandma said, if you dry them out there, just put them in the dryer for five minutes and it will make them feel softer.

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on May 20, 2012:

Bravo, Goodlady, great minds think alike! LOL. We have the advantages of a mild climate, so this is a big plus when it comes to drying clothes outside. Thanks for reading and commenting, ECAL

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on May 20, 2012:

Thanks NatashaLH for the Up-Vote! Try to find out on your electricity statement or call the electric company to find out. This is an often overlooked area that can save a bundle.

Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on May 20, 2012:

Great tips. It's surprising how much you can save on your electricity bills by using the washing machine at night or at the weekends - and drying outdoors if you can.

Very helpful Hub in these economically hard times.

Natasha from Hawaii on May 19, 2012:

Interesting. I don't know if I get charged extra for peak hour usage or not. It never occurred to me to think about it! Thanks for sharing the tips - voted useful.