How to Save Money on Laundry

How to Save Money on Laundry
Written by Irina Vasilescu

If there’s one household chore that almost everyone hates, it’s none other than doing the laundry. Nobody wants to deal with stained shirts; damp and dirty towels; dirty denim pants; and unclean underwear. Naturally, you need to wear clean clothes every day so doing the laundry is a necessary evil. But more than the mundaneness of the chore, there is one other aspect of doing the laundry that you won’t really like: its cost.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average family in the US does almost 400 loads of laundry every year. If you have a family with three young kids, just imagine how much money you would have to spend on water, electricity, detergent and fabric softener.

If you would like to cut back on these laundry-related costs, what are you supposed to do? Basically, you need to combine going green when doing your laundry with saving on detergent, fabric softener, electricity and other things that you need in order to have clean clothes.

Read on to find out more about how you can save money when doing the laundry.

Your Clothes & Your Washing Machine

One of the best ways to save money on laundry is to purchase clothes which are easy to wash in the first place. If you’re an office worker who frequently has to wear business suits and formal clothes during corporate events, make sure that the individual garments are easy to wash.

If you will choose ones which have to be dry-cleaned every time and you have lots of similar clothes, you will be spending a lot on your dry cleaning bills. There are formal clothes which are made from fabrics which can be machined or hand washed. There are even clothes made from fabrics which are wrinkle-free. After washing, you simply need to tumble dry the garment and you don’t even have to iron it before wearing!

If you must iron clothes, remember to choose ones with a small amount of synthetic fiber. These wrinkle less than clothes made from other types of fiber. Wrinkle-free fabrics are also easier to hand wash or machine wash.

Next, make sure that your washing machine does not use up that much water, electricity and even detergent. Let’s say that you have an old model of a washing machine which you use to do the laundry at home on a regular basis. Most old model washing machines and dryers are not yet Energy Star-certified. This means that you might be using more electricity than you would if you had a newer model. Instead of waiting for the washing machine to give out or malfunction before replacing it, think about the long-term benefits that you will incur.

With an Energy Star-certified washing machine and dryer, you can save up to $55 per year on water and electricity. Tweet this! This makes the initial investment well worth it.

The US Department of Energy and the EPA recommends replacing a washer, dryer or any other major appliance which is ten years old or more with an Energy Star-certified model.

Similarly, when you compare the electricity and water usage of a new appliance with Energy Star certification and one without energy-saving features, you will save up to $223 with the former. Whether you’re living alone or with a number of family members, this savings will definitely go a long way.

You may also want to invest in a front-loading washer instead of a top-loading model. Front-loading washers require about 40% less water per load, less detergent is used, more water is removed during the spin cycle, and 60% less energy is used. It may cost more than top-loading washers, but the investment will be well worth it in the end.

More Ways to Save Money when Doing the Laundry

Aside from buying clothes which are easy to wash and investing in a washer and dryer with an Energy Star certification, what else can you do to save money when doing the laundry? Take a look at the following list:

Know how to save money on laundry detergents!

When you’re doing the laundry, perhaps the biggest expense that you will have is buying detergent. This is especially true for households with small kids who frequently stain and dirty up their clothes. If you would like to save money on laundry detergent, what can you do? First, know which laundry detergent to buy.

When you watch those ads on television which claim how some laundry detergents are better than others, you might be tempted to buy more expensive brands based on how the companies market them. The truth, however, is that most laundry detergents are created equal.

When you go to a superstore, there are store brands which are typically less expensive than their more popular counterparts. The more popular detergents simply have more money for advertising and spend a lot on fancy packaging, but the contents are typically the same as store brands. There’s no need for you to invest in additional dollars if you can buy something that’s cheaper, which can do the same job of cleaning your clothes in the end.

Second, should you buy powder or liquid detergent? In terms of costs, powdered detergent is cheaper than the liquid variety. They’re also less harmful to the environment. If you are worried about the powdered residue of this type of detergent on your clothes, simply make sure that the washer is filled with both water and soap before adding the dirty clothes. This way, any powdery residue will be liquefied and there will be no remnants of it once the clothes are dried.

It also pays to consider buying green laundry detergent. Choose ones which are non-toxic, completely biodegradable, and do not have petroleum-based ingredients. Also check for other possibly harmful ingredients like optical brighteners, fragrances and dyes.

Third, cut back on the amount of detergent that you are using for each load. Most households do use too much detergent. Aside from wasting money on extra detergent, you are also not allowing the rinsing water to do its work of getting rid of the stains and extra bubbles on a full load of clothes due to too much soap. Follow the lowest gradation for most loads or the least number of measuring spoon when washing regular clothes. Only add a bit more if you are dealing with heavily stained clothes.

One more thing that you can do to save money on detergent is to make your own. PlantGreen recommends that you mix 2 cups of finely grated regular bar soap with a cup of washing soda and a cup of borax. Mix well and use a couple of tablespoons for every full load. This is a green laundry detergent recipe that will help you save money.

In most cases, you don’t need hot water to wash clothes.

When you are using hot water for all loads when doing the laundry, you are wasting money on electricity. In most cases, you are not really doing a better job of washing clothes when using hot water. The only time that it is applicable to do a hot wash cycle is when loading towels, bed linens, wash cloths and undergarments. These are items which are kept close to the body, and the heat of the water will help eliminate bacteria. Heavily soiled clothes can also benefit from a hot wash cycle. Other than that, save on electricity and stick to a cold wash.

Ditch the fabric softener.

When you’re using fabric softeners, you are simply adding another layer of product onto your clothes. Almost everyone can do without this and considering the cost, buying fabric softeners can really add up. A better option is to add half a cup of baking soda or white vinegar to the final rinse. Just make sure not to use this with bleach, because of the possibility of releasing a kind of gas which can be toxic.

If you feel that your clothes are not well washed without fabric softener, simply use half of the amount that you are using now so as not to waste your money on this laundry product.

Maximize each load on your washer.

If you are still doing half loads on your washer, stop the habit right now! You might think that you are using less water, but what about electricity? You will be using exactly the same amount of electricity when washing half a load or a full load of clothes. Also choose the shortest washing cycle if the clothes are not heavily soiled. The normal to heavy wash cycles can be used for the really dirty items.

Consider air drying your clothes.

If you have the extra space in your house, why not allow your clothes to air dry? There are clothing racks which can be used to air dry clothes. Not only will this save you the energy used in tumble dryers, but it also eliminates fading and ensures the durability of clothes through several washings.

If you must use the dryer, make sure that it is lint-free.
For those who would not like to air dry their clothes, make sure that the dryer is lint-free. If the lint trap of your dryer is full, moist air will not escape properly, making the dryer work harder than usual so it ends up using more energy.

How about saving money while ironing clothes?

During summer, iron clothes during the coolest time of the day. Consider inserting aluminum foil between the cover and main material of the ironing board to help preserve heat and get the job done faster. Spritz on some water to help soften wrinkles, reducing the time that the clothes need to be pressed.

Nobody likes doing the laundry but it is a necessary chore that has to be done. By following these money-saving tips, you won’t have to break the bank while enjoying wearing freshly cleaned clothes.

About the author

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu is our crafty designer. She joined the team three years ago and is also involved in the writing process.


  • This is a hard one to save on, at least for me. I always spend a lot on my laundry because I’m too lazy to wash them my own. But I find that it’s much cheaper to just have a deal with a laundromat.

    • If the clothes are needed immediately, I actually opt for laundromats but after a while, I just can’t take the detergent they use because it does not feel very clean to me. Anyway, maybe its just the laundromats in my place.

  • Doing laundry is really a daunting and expensive chore to do. Since I live on my own and usually visit my parents during the weekends, I only wash my undies and other light clothes in my apartment and bring the jeans and jackets to my parents place. Aside from the fact that it saves me detergent (I’m cheap) and my parent place allows air drying, doing laundry at home gives us time to talk and we are able to share stories of our week while doing the laundry.

    Anyway, thanks for the great tips. I was just wondering about the vinegar and baking soda. From what i can remember, mixing the two cause bubbles, why do you we want that in our laundry? Sorry, it was iust the first time I’ve heard about it.

  • Great article. I make my own detergent when I don’t buy it in bulk at somewhere like Costco. I find that aired with my HE washer it saves a ton of money and works great. I also try to air dry but I will admit I like dryer soft clothes!

  • I absolutely love that you mentioned clearing the lint trap every time you use your dryer, not only will it help save a bit of energy and keep your dryer from overheating — too much lint is a HUGE fire hazard.

    Also, I know for a lot of people, air drying their clothes makes them stiff and uncomfortable. Try shaking them out several times during the drying process and then putting the whole load in the dryer on wrinkle release mode for about 5-10 minutes to avoid stiffness.

  • Front loaders are great and definitely worth it, but if you are new to the front loading style of washer, there is something you should know. You can not wash very absorbent bulky bedding items in there because they don’t use enough water for it. I tried to wash a down blanket in a front loader at my workplace (a bed and breakfast) and it came out of the washer with some patches still practically dry. Normally there is no problem, this is the only type of item that does not work in a front loader.

  • We do air dry our clothes most of the time. My family does not have a problem with it; we have more than enough space in our backyard to hang most of our laundry. It saves us the electricity bill for having to operate a conventional dryer.

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