Sense & Centsibility Blog

Six Laundry Tips to Save Money and Your Clothes

Word "Save" held up by clothes pins on a clothes lineI hate grocery shopping, but I LOVE doing laundry. I don’t know why. I think it feeds some compulsive behavior in me. I like separating colors, fabrics, tackling stains and getting whites white. There are certainly compulsive behaviors that are worse.

You might not love doing laundry as much as I do, but we can all use tips for saving money and saving our clothes whenever we do our wash. Here's what I've learned over the years:

WASH FULL LOADS.  I don’t mind my daughter bringing home laundry, because I can have a full load and feel good about saving natural resources. Otherwise, I let my dirty laundry pile up to a critical mass. I will plan my weekly outfits around laundry—wear similar colors so I have a full load to wash.

DON’T WASH MOSTLY CLEAN CLOTHES.  Were you working in the hot sun on a construction site, or were you in a climate-controlled office all day? Does that top really need to be washed, or can you wear it again? There is a lot of friction happening in the washer and dryer, which wears clothes out. Prolong the life of your clothes and reduce your utility costs by washing only dirty clothes.

USE COLD WATER.  Most laundry detergents today are formulated to work well in cold water. Heating water costs money, and hot water is harder on fabrics. Use hot water only when needed for sanitation reasons.

TREAT STAINS IMMEDIATELY.  You really don’t need fancy stain removers. Dish soap works great on most stains. Other common household products also useful: hydrogen peroxide, salt, baking soda, ammonia, vinegar. Use cold water on protein stains, like blood, meat, eggs, etc. The sooner you treat the stain, the better chance you have to save the garment. Soaking is good for most fabrics to keep the stain from setting until it is washed.

USE LESS LAUNDRY DETERGENT.  Laundry detergent manufacturers are in business to sell their product. You can almost always get away with using one-half of the recommended amount on the container. (Clothes that are especially soiled might need more.) To reduce your carbon footprint with your detergent, buy powdered instead of liquid. The increased weight of liquid detergent requires more fossil fuel to ship. Plus, the plastic container isn’t made of renewable materials like paper.

AND, MY FAVORITE…LINE DRY!  Heating air is expensive. Electric dryers are particularly costly. The first thing I did when I bought my house was to install clothes lines outside. I love hanging out my laundry (is that some sort of Freudian thing?). Falling asleep on fresh sheets hung out in the sunshine is heavenly! Mmmmmm. I do keep an eye on the pollen count and hang clothes indoors if pollen is high. During the winter, I hang clothes in front of my forced-air furnace in the basement. The colder the weather, the faster the clothes dry!

As previously mentioned, dryers are rough on clothes. All the lint in the lint trap? That’s your clothes being worn away. The heat of dryers also sets stains. With line drying, you get a second chance to tackle a stain.

You may not share the same compulsive behavior I have, but we all share a need to conserve our personal resources and the earth’s. HAPPY LAUNDERING!

Looking for other ways to save money? Need to tackle your debts? Give LSS Financial Counseling a call today at 888.577.2227.  You can get also get all your support online. Meeting with a financial counselor is free, confidential and will help you gain control of your financial situation.

Author Mary Ellen Kaluza is a Certified Financial Counselor at LSS Financial Counseling and an important member of our blogging team.