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How to Save Time and Money on Your Laundry

How to Save Time and Money on Your Laundry
Written by Oana Schneider

If you think that doing the laundry is a mundane task that does not deserve your attention, then you probably have not gone without clean underwear for a day in your life.

Just like all the other essential household chores, dirty laundry is something that you need to deal with – sooner rather than later, especially if you do not have a walk-in closet full of clothes that will last you for an entire month.

Whether you’re living alone and doing the laundry once a week or if you have a big family and you need to do the laundry twice or thrice per week, the task would take a lot of time and effort on your part.

Although the technology behind having clean clothes has greatly improved over the years, there are still some intricacies to the ‘science’ of doing laundry that you probably haven’t heard about. Exactly what can you do to save time and money while doing the laundry? And how can you make the task more efficient? Read on to find out.

Top 10 Tips for Saving Time & Money on Laundry

A few decades back, doing the laundry involved some type of hand washing and air drying. Thanks to the improvements in technology, we now have a myriad of washing machines and dryers to finish the task in a jiffy.

However, it’s still quite tricky to create that delicate balance between doing the task efficiently without having to waste water, energy, and laundry detergent.

Here, we will take a look at the top ten tips on how you can save time and money while dealing with dirty clothes:

1. Know how to save money while doing the laundry.

The average household in the US spends about 11% of its budget on utilities and household operational costs. This includes the cost of buying laundry detergent, fabric softener, and other supplies needed to keep clothes clean. When you’re doing the laundry, you are spending money on electricity, water, and supplies.

So instead of washing a few dirty clothes frequently, why not wash a larger bulk less frequently? For instance, if you’re living alone, doing the laundry once a week would probably do. This will save you a lot of money on utilities and cleaning supplies as compared to washing a smaller amount more frequently, say twice a week.

2. Familiarize yourself with how your washing machine works.

The type of washing machine that you will use also has an impact on how fast and how cost-effective you can finish your laundry loads. If you’re buying a new washing machine when moving or when your old one needs replacement, a front-loading model is more efficient than top-loading models.

The initial expense may be a bit higher, but the eventual savings will be well worth it in the end. Front-loading washers use less water, less electricity, and they spin more water out of clothes so the ones you just washed will spend less time in the dryer.

According to ConsumerSearch, top-loading washing machines cost $400 to $600 more than front-loading models – but the lower energy costs will make up for the price difference in less than one year.

3. Be frugal when it comes to buying laundry detergent.

Similar to how you would save money when buying cleaning supplies for the house, it would help if you will use coupons, discount vouchers, cash back offers, reward program points, and similar items to buy laundry detergent, stain removers, fabric softener, and similar products.

Don’t hesitate to try out new brands in the market, especially when they are cheaper than the ones you are currently using. Sign up for newsletters so you can take advantage of product samples and discounts offered by manufacturers.

4. How about making your own detergent?

If you’re concerned about chemicals and allergens on laundry detergent products, why not make your own? There are recipes for homemade laundry detergent that you can download online. Make a big batch and see if you like the way that homemade laundry detergent cleans your clothes.

For every load, you can save up to $0.20 per load when making your own detergent. Tweet this! If you do your laundry in bulk less frequently per week, the savings will add up real quick. As a substitute for fabric softeners, you can use a cap full of vinegar for every full load on the washer. Vinegar is also a natural disinfectant and fabric deodorizer.

Try this homemade laundry detergent recipe and save money!

Try this homemade laundry detergent recipe and save money!

5. Use less detergent.

Most Americans actually use more detergent than they really need to. Instead of always using a capful or an entire scoop of laundry detergent, read the manufacturer’s manual and only fill up the cap or scoop up to a certain line. The demarcation shows the right amount of laundry detergent that you should be using.

You should only add more detergent for clothes with really tough stains. Do add more detergent for dirty kids’ clothes, workout clothes, and gardening clothes. For dressier outfits which are worn in air conditioned rooms, you can use even less detergent than what’s recommended because the agitation of the water alone should be enough to get rid of the dirt out of most clothes.

6. Save energy by washing only full loads.

Unless you are dealing with very dirty laundry, there’s really no need to use the hot water cycle on your washing machine. A significant amount of energy is required to heat the water so you will simply be wasting energy by not using the cold water cycle.

Aside from using the setting for cold water wash, you should also not use a wash cycle that’s longer than necessary. Again, for clothes which are not that dirty, you should only use the shortest wash cycle possible.

This will save you a lot of energy in the long run. If your washing machine has a pre-soak and second rinse feature, use that for particularly dirty clothes, leaving all the other extra off because these are all energy wasters.

7. Save money on water.

Another golden rule that you should keep in mind when doing the laundry is to only run the washer when you have a full load of clothes.  A full load equals less water and energy used per item of clothes. Just make sure to separate colored clothes which might stain the light-colored ones when running them all together in the same cycle.

8. Always clean the external dryer vent.

Do you know where the dryer vent goes? This vent empties out in a certain area outside your building or your home. If this part is obstructed, the drying time for your clothes will increase, thereby using up more energy. Keeping the external dryer vent free from obstruction will improve the flow of air.

After determining where the external dryer vent goes, make sure that there is no lint or build-up of dirt or other elements on the vent. As very moist air is blown out to dry wet clothes, drying time is increased so make sure to keep this part clean to decrease energy usage when drying clothes.

9. Consider line-drying clothes.

Better yet, why not line-dry your clothes? If you will skip the electric dryer by hanging your clothes on a line, you will save almost $0.50 per load. Tweet this! When you combine line-drying with using cheaper detergent and skipping the hot water wash cycle, you will save up to 25% of what you’re paying now doing laundry the traditional way.

10. Additional tips.

Before putting clothes on the washer, you should first separate the loads according to the heaviness of fabric. For instance, denim, towels, and blankets take a lot more time to dry as compared to light clothes.

When you wash light fabrics with heavy fabrics, you will be using more energy to dry light shirts than what’s necessary – which is wasting energy. Over-drying clothes might even damage light fabrics or cause shrinkage.

For lingerie and other delicates, you can simply hand wash them on the bathroom sink to prevent damage on the fabric. To make air circulation more efficient, remove the filter and peel off the lint which accumulated on the area after every load.

Doing so makes clothes dry faster so you will save more energy. Cleaning the lint filter also makes your dryer less of a fire hazard. If your local utility company charges more per kWh during peak periods, you can schedule doing the laundry when the rates are lower.

This will save you a lot of money on utility costs in the long run. Even if you are using a coin-operated washing machine, you will get charged less for loads washed in cold water. Clothes made from heavy fabrics can be put through an extra spin cycle in the water so that drying time can be cut.

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How to Save Time and Money on Your Laundry

About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois and was part of our team as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget and has a degree in Communications.


  • I know a lot of my friends who will simply wash items as and when they need them, and I have tried to tell them numerous times that this is a silly thing to do, because it just isn’t economical to do this in the long term. I will only ever do the washing when the machine is full, so usually I can go for around a week between washes, which works for me very well. It means that I save a lot more money than I would if I was washing every single day like a lot of people do.

  • Do people actually not wash full loads? I do laundry at the end of every week with a bit of clothes to spare, but it seems like this is not what people usually do! Always wash full loads to not waste money or water!

    The line-drying is a great idea, but it kind of depends on the space you have. For people living in small apartments, this is probably not an option and have to resort to the dryer. However, it depends on what you want to sacrifice to save.

  • This is good advice. I already knew most of these tips, but I didn’t know that front-end loading machines were more efficient than top-loading machines. I also had never thought about making my own detergent before. Maybe that’s worth trying out, and I’ll remember to buy a front-loading machine the next time we need a new one.

  • When I do our laundry when almost everything is dirty it equals 4 loads and these are all heavy loads. Sadly our apartment has coin operated machines and I wont’ spend anymore then $2 to wash and dry. So if stuff doesn’t dry I hang it on a rack. If I had a clothesline I would be using it a lot but I do not.

  • I wanted to point out as well that if you don’t clean out your dryer vents, that it could cause a fire. So, if you clean your dryer vents your clothes will dry faster and less chance of fire. Great tips, thanks for sharing!

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