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5 Quick and Easy Ways to Save Money on Laundry

by Tara Kuczykowski on January 29, 2009 · 29 comments

Laundry – it's a necessary chore we all have to do (some of us more than others, LOL). Maybe you've often thought about ways to make the process easier (check out Organizing Your Way today for some super tips on this topic), but have you really thought about ways you can save money while doing it?

There are probably dozens of ways you can cut corners, but here are just a few quick and easy tips that will help you save a bundle over time.




Use the correct amount of detergent. I'm willing to wager that you're using a lot more detergent than necessary! Most people fill the cap to the natural fill line where it flares out, but if you look closely at the inside, the fill lines embossed inside the cap are well below this mark. Take a Sharpie marker and clearly define them so you know you're dispensing the proper amount every time. Do the same with your fabric softener if you use a liquid.

Cut your dryer sheets in half. If you use dryer sheets, you can make a box last twice as long by simply cutting them in half. Alyssa from Keeping the Kingdom First did a fabulous vlog about this tip several months ago. This actually works! You clothes will be just as soft, static-free, and clean-smelling by using only half.

Wash your clothes in cold water. I'm sure you've heard this one before, but it really does save a lot of money. Estimates are that an average family can save up to $70 a year just by switching. This may not be a viable option if you have small children because some stains are next to impossible to remove in cold water, but you can opt to use cold water whenever possible.

Use a shorter cycle. Unless your clothes are heavily soiled, there's no reason to wash them any longer than that. Shorter cycles equal less energy used, so that adds up! Save the longer wash cycles for the extra dirty clothing.

Hang your clothes up to dry. This is another tip that may not work for everyone, but if you have the room in your laundry area, hanging your clothes up to dry or using drying racks will help you save on your energy bill as well. Unfortunately, I don't have the room for this, and our housing association bylaws don't allow clothes lines.

And finally one bonus tip for any drycleaning you may have:

Use an in-home drycleaning solution like Dry Cleaners Secret. Dry cleaning can be expensive! A product like Dry Cleaner's Secret allows you to spot clean as need and then just toss your dry cleaning into the dryer. They come out smelling fresh and clean and wrinkle free. See their site to find out how you can get a sample pack that will clean up to four garments for just the price of shipping ($2.99)!

So there you have it – employing simple and easy tips like these can save you big bucks over the long term!

Do you have any other simple tips for saving money on laundry? I'm completely open to new ideas on how to save on this never-ending task of mine.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 carol January 29, 2009 at 11:13 am

I am a drycleaner and you may be actually setting stains and making them harder to get out by using dry cleaners secret and your dryer. This product is terrible and your drycleaners worst nightmare! Please educate yourself and don't let products like this play upon your ignorance of what the drycleaning process really is.

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2 Ruth Ann January 29, 2009 at 11:48 am

I generally cut my dryer sheets in thirds and use them for multiple loads of laundry. If the dryer sheet still smells like a dryer sheet, back in the dryer it goes.

When using my clothes dryer, I use a short cycle and don't mind if the clothes are still slightly damp when I take them out. Unless it's something that I'm going to wear right out of the dryer, the last bit of moisture will dry when the clothese are hung/folded. It's better for the clothes if they don't get bone dry and saves time and money.

For heavily soiled loads or when I want to get my white extra white, I add some baking soda to the wash and, after agitating, let them sit overnight in the full washer. Rest the washer to agitate the load and finish the cycle in the morning (without draining the water) and my clothes come out super clean, no problems.

And, my trick for getting out super stubborn stains is to take those clothes when I go to visit my sister. She has a great, front loading washing machine that's amazing at getting even set in stains out on just the regular wash. I toss my stuff in with her laundry (she has two young boys, so there's almost always laundry going on) and my clothes magically end up clean, stain free and usually folded and on the guest bed by the end of the day. :)

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3 Rebekah January 29, 2009 at 11:50 am

We make our own laundry soap and use vinegar in the Downy ball as a fabric softener to help save on laundry costs and keep chemicals out of the house and ground water. Sunlight is a natural bleaching agent and much safer and cheaper than bleach! In addition we don't wash clothes until they're dirty, with little kids they're clothes are often dirty after one wearing but for my husband and me our jeans are worn 2-3 times (at least!) before washing .. the same goes for towels!

Another benefit to washing in cold water is that you don't need to separate lights and darks .. just throw it all in together which is great when you have little "helpers" in the laundry room!

Rebekah´s last blog post..Naturally Frugal Baby or my current addiction to cloth diapers

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4 Deal Seeking Mom January 29, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Thanks for the tips, Rebekah and Ruth Ann!

And thanks for a drycleaner's perspective, Carol. I'm certainly not advocating using a product like Dry Cleaner's Secret for heavily soil dry clean only clothing, but I do think it's useful for extending the time between cleanings by freshening them up a little.

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5 theresa January 29, 2009 at 12:21 pm

It's pretty easy to make your own laundry detergent. We do a dry version.. my recipe:
1 bar Fels Naptha, grated (I use my microplaner)
1 cup Borax
1 cup Arm & Hammer washing powder

I sometimes add a scoop of Oxy Clean type stuff. There's probably 10 minutes of effort involved in grating the soap.

Use just 2 tablespoons per load... I'd estimate it makes 48 tablespoons. So one batch of this lasts my household more than a month.

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6 Swap Savers January 29, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Instead of using dryer sheets you can use a dryer ball--it will save you money and the environment.

Swap Savers´s last blog post..Cheryl Maguire left a comment for Tracey

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7 Elizabeth (M & Ts Babbling Mama) January 29, 2009 at 12:28 pm

MAKE your OWN detergent!!!!!!!!!!! seriously guuuurl and it works! especially during the summer monthes when you can hang your clothes....

USE lemon juice and vinegar as safe and CHEAP substitues for cleaning and "bleaching" clothes..

DRYER BALLS. depending where you get them they're either 9.99 or 19.99 and they should last a year or MORE and you can spend that in 2 months on dryer sheets. THAT saves in dryer sheets . THEY work for cutting out static!
HOPE I helped.

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8 Elizabeth (M & Ts Babbling Mama) January 29, 2009 at 12:29 pm

I misspelled some. I'm in a rush sorry. ha ha.

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9 Kira January 29, 2009 at 12:44 pm

Verrrrry interesting. I've been considering making my own soap and switching to vinegar & lemon juice instead of bleach but haven't felt confident enough to do it yet.

What is a "dryer ball"?

Kira´s last blog post..Country Mart January 28-February 3

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10 Virginia January 29, 2009 at 1:21 pm

We would like to thank you for sharing all your great finds by giving you a award! Pick it up at frugaliciousmommy.com

Virginia´s last blog post..Yippie We Got an Award!

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11 Amy - Cutting Coupons in KC January 29, 2009 at 1:22 pm

I have had really good luck with Dryel at home dry cleaning. I have used it on our winter coats, wool sweaters and my husband's suit. Everything came out clean and smelled very fresh! I have a five year old son, so we have lots of stains at our house. I pre-treat the stains with Shout, Spray and Wash etc. (I buy whatever is on sale !) and I add about a cup of baking soda to the wash. So far, all of the stains have come out!

Amy - Cutting Coupons in KC´s last blog post..Johnsonville Brat Deal

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12 Alaina January 29, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Thanks for the tips!

Alaina´s last blog post..Maybe some relief...

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13 Heidi @ Frugal Girls January 29, 2009 at 3:06 pm

I just started making my own laundry stain remover, and it works GREAT! I've got two little guys that seem to attract mud and grass stains, so I was so excited to see it actually worked. :) I've linked to the "recipe".

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14 Linda January 29, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Does home-made detergent work in front loading washers? I use liquid soap, which I think it recommended with those type of washers. I want to be careful with what I use because I don't want to destroy my front loading washer, which is awesome! It uses less water and I can add the cold water feature to really help save energy.
I've seen dryer balls at WalMart. I was curious but afraid to try it. Any other thoughts on them??

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15 Rebekah January 29, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Kira: The dryer balls are great! They're rubber balls with little "nubbies" on the surface. They tumble in the dryer with your clothes and help keep things moving around. The "nubbies" fluff up the fabric fibers helping to keep them soft and the static away. The only downside I've found is they like to hide in the clean, dry laundry .. especially in the corners of sheets! They've cut my drying time 15-20 minutes a load .. more with lighter loads like diapers.

Rebekah´s last blog post..Naturally Frugal Baby or my current addiction to cloth diapers

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16 Deal Seeking Mom January 29, 2009 at 6:55 pm

Thanks for the tips on the dryer balls, ladies! I've often wondered if they actually work. Sounds like I need to give them a whirl – literally. :P

I haven't been brave enough to attempt my own laundry detergent, but I might give that a try when my stockpile runs out.

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17 Stefanie January 29, 2009 at 8:41 pm

I hang my clothes all over the house. Use your shower curtain rods. I also found this great gadget that is designed for hanging clothes. It is sold on QVC. It is collapsible and stores away nicely in my closet. You get 2, but I gave one to my mother-in-law for a present. It may seem pricey but it should help save money in the long run on your electric bill. Here is the link to check it out. http://www.qvc.com/qic/qvcapp.aspx/view.2/app.detail/params.CM_SCID.COLL.item.M12586.desc.Set-of-2-Hangaway-Collapsible-Drying-Racks

Stefanie´s last blog post..Snow Ice Cream Recipe

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18 Jena January 29, 2009 at 9:36 pm

If you have multiple loads to wash and dry (I have 4 boys so I always have laundry going), make sure you dry them back to back. That way the dryer doesn't have time to cool down and then re-heat back up.

Also, on a different note - dishes - which is something else I always have going - if you have a dishwasher, run your kitchen tap water until it gets hot and then turn on your dishwasher. The book that came with my dishwasher reccomended it - said it was more efficient than the dishwasher heating up the water.

When in doubt, read the manual that comes with your appliance on ways to conserve energy costs.

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19 Amy A January 29, 2009 at 9:42 pm

I use 1/2 cup of vinegar in my rinse cycle instead of using fabric softner. The clothes are soft and the odors are eliminated!
In the spring/summer/fall I hang our clothes out to dry. I do miss the "soft" feeling of towels dried in the dryer, but I found that if I stick them in the dryer for about 5 minutes and THEN hang them up they are much softer!

Amy A´s last blog post..Fruit Pudding

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20 Dana January 30, 2009 at 9:38 am

These are all great tips, ladies! Thanks so much for sharing!

Off to buy dryer balls!

Dana´s last blog post..Loaded Potato Soup

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21 Tracy K. January 30, 2009 at 10:18 am

I also make my own detergent. I use the same recipe that Theresa provided above. It is so easy to make, smells clean and fresh, does not leave a residue on your clothes, and works as well as TIDE. I grate the soap and then run all the ingredients thru the food processor to create the powder consistency of regular detergent. However, you only need 2-3 tablespoons/load instead of that big scoop that comes with other detergents.
Linda: YES, you can absolutely use this recipe for your front loading machine. The High Efficiency detergent is made to produce less suds which is why regular detergent can ruin the front loading machines. The Fels Naptha recipe creates no suds and is competely safe. I always keep a full bar of Fels Naptha for pre-treating those wonderful grass stains my boys come home with. I just scrub a bit of soap on the stain and after washing they are GONE! I recommend this detergent as it is environmentally friendly, septic friendly and much, much cheaper than any laundry soap you can buy!

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22 Jennifer January 30, 2009 at 8:34 pm

Just a note on washing in cold water...in very cold areas of the country, washing clothes in cold water in the winter --especially if your washer is in an uninsulated basement like mine--may not get your clothes clean. Most of my reading has shown that detergents work best to clean in water above 40 degrees (farenheit). In my case, I have to wash in warm, then rinse in cold.

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23 Lisa January 30, 2009 at 11:11 pm

You may want to do some more research on dryer balls before running out and buying them. There are chemicals used in the plastic that can be harmful to children (and probably adults too). You can use two regular tennis balls and they will have the same effect.

We have stopped using dryer sheets all together. We use a little vinegar in the rinse cycle for softening and then dry on a lower setting so clothes don't get dry dry dry - it prevents them from getting a static build up and saves on energy costs.

I haven't really tested this, but I've been told if you put a clean, dry towel in the dryer with your wet clothes they will dry faster.

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24 Heather February 3, 2009 at 10:46 pm

I have 4 kids and a husband that loves to work outside. My homemade laundry soap works great on cleaning our clothes! I also make my own fabric softener that smells great. My kids love to watch while I make it. They are blown away that their mom is cool enough to keep in mind that the environment is not in the best shape right now. But they don't realize just yet that it also helps our pocket book.

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25 Anonymous February 5, 2009 at 10:51 am

Great tips! I'll be coming back to learn more about saving money!
We've listed you in weekly favorites! Keep up the good work!

http://tinyurl.com/awt3es

Kim Hays,
Moms At Work

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26 easy ways to save money February 8, 2009 at 2:03 pm

hi
nice post
These are all great ideas
Everyone can save money in small and seemingly insignificant areas if you know how and where to do it.

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27 how-to-save-money February 10, 2009 at 8:54 am

Great list!

If you have kids another piece of good advice is to avoid washing clean clothes. I've found that my daughter often tries on different clothes, and sometimes ends up putting clean clothes in the laundry. Argh :)

how-to-save-money´s last blog post..How to Apply for the Bridge Card in Michigan for EBT Food Benefits

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28 Allison March 2, 2009 at 9:32 pm

Tennis balls do the same thing as dryer balls and are often cheaper.

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29 Lisa May 12, 2010 at 8:05 am

The homemade laundry detergent IS the answer to saving money. I make a liquid detergent with the same ingredients (Fels Naptha, Borax, and Washing Soda [not BAKING soda]), but it is safe for the front loaders because there is no suds. The recipe is found on thefamilyhomestead.com web site. She has step-by-step instructions with pictures. There is also a breakdown of the cost of making laundry soap. It is CHEAP, just $0.72 to make 64 loads that is $0.01125 a load!!!

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