How to Save Money on Laundry

Let’s talk dirty. Let’s speak of the kind of filth reserved for sweaty undergarments, worn unbuttoned blouses, and stained white t-shirts. Let’s muse about the body odor smelling up fabrics, the armpit rings circling under sleeves, and the ties dipped in mustard. Let’s talk about doing the laundry.

Laundry. It’s tricky to say something clean and refreshing about such a dingy, dirty topic. But dirty laundry is something we all have in common. We all spoil our shirts, we all stink up our socks, and we all stain our slacks. Laundry is also a repetitive task which can cost us big bucks over time. When I stop to calculate the cost of laundry detergent, the power usage of clothing dryers, and the water consumption of washing machines I shudder at the total cost of cleaning filth.


Over the long haul, it’s wise to wonder how much money could be saved by laundering differently with a few fresh techniques. Since I want to spot you some dollars and still whiten your wash, lets look at some ways to save money on cleaning laundry!

1. Laundry Detergent

When is comes to laundry detergent it seems the choices are endless. Many brands boast superior cleaning power, wacky ingredients, and sniffling smells. These brands can also be costly at the till. Try these tips to save money on your laundry detergent bill:

  • Buy store brands. Name brand detergents are often more expensive than store brand equivalents, even though both do the same job. Why pay more for the marketing muckity muck and packaging associated with a brand name detergent. Stick with store brands and wash for way less.
  • Get powdered. Powered laundry soaps generally cost far less than the liquid variety and also use fewer environmental resources during production. To avoid powdery residue on your clean wash, be sure to fill your washing machine with water and soap before adding your laundry. This method also helps liquefy the detergent powder more evenly into your wash.
  • Go green. Here’s the quick and dirty on greener laundry detergent! A green detergent should be non-toxic and biodegradable. It must contain no petroleum based ingredients, no optical brighteners, and no dyes or fragrances (clean doesn’t have a smell). Ingredients may include corn and coconut for surfactants, soda ash and borax for water softeners, and sodium gluconate and sorbitol as a natural anti-redeposition agent.
  • Add baking soda. Rescue the soda from your fridge and toss it into your wash. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and works wonders on stinky gear and smelly shirts. Just add a quarter cup to your washing machine’s rinse cycle to use as a fabric softener and odor remover. To pretreat spots before putting clothes into the wash, try making a paste from a 50/50 mix of baking soda and water.
  • Add white vinegar. Take a pass on greasy fish and chips and use your vinegar in the wash! Full strength white vinegar is an excellent cleaning tool for clobbering germs, bacteria, and molds. Along with baking soda, vinegar helps to destinkify and deodorize your smelly kit.

Tip: Add your laundry detergent and one cup of white vinegar and quarter cup of baking soda to whiten and brighten your wash. To remove leftover soap residue, try adding half a cup of white vinegar to the wash rinse cycle. Your clothing will smell clean and fresh. I promise, you won’t smell any vinegar after your clothing is dry.

2. Washing

Washing is a way of life. Unless you have kagillions of dollars, you’re unlikely to wear an outfit just once. So here are some ways to dwindle your washing bill.

  • Wash only full loads. Stop doing half loads and start filling your washer to the brim! Half-full loads may use less water but they consume the same electrical power as full loads. Washing with the machine only half full is a sure fire recipe for flushing good money down the drain.
  • Wash in cold water. Get out of hot water and save big bucks on your energy bill by washing cold. Save hot water washes for white towels, socks, and underwear. Some sites claim that as much as 90 percent of the energy used when washing clothes is used just for heating the water. By simply washing cold, an average family can save $70 per year on their energy bill. These dollars add up over the years! Try the Switch to Cold Water and Save calculator to figure your savings.
  • Use shortest washing cycle. Choose the shorter washing cycles for lightly to moderately soiled clothing. Leave the normal to heavy wash cycles for the real dirty stuff. This approach can help to use less energy since the machine runs for less time. Over the year this adds up!
  • Switch to a front-loading washer. Take a spin with a front-loading washing machine to save water, energy, and detergent. The efficiency of these machines is amazing. They require about 40 percent less water per load, consume up to 60 percent less energy, require less detergent to clean, and are more effective in removing water during the spin cycle – so less time in the dryer. These machines are more expensive to buy than top loading machines, but the savings do add up over the years. I am so saving for one.

3. Drying

Sometimes wet clothing needs a good drying. Here are some drying alternatives as well as ways to optimize your dryer.

  • Hang dry. Get hung out to dry by skipping the clothes dryer. By using clothing racks in place of a clothes dryer you can save lots on energy costs. I’ve found my clothing lasts longer and fades less when hung out to dry. Alternatively, place clothing in a dryer for just 15 minutes on high heat to fluff, then pull out the still damp laundry and hang it to air dry. This leads to considerable savings. I hang and air my laundry in all seasons, not just in the summer.
  • Remove lint. Keep your dryer lint free. A full lint trap doesn’t allow the moist air to escape properly, which slows down the drying cycle and uses more energy. While you’re at it, check your belly button too.

4. Ironing

Stop getting your wallet flattened by ironing costs. The irony is ironing can be done faster with less effort for less bucks by trying these simple pressing tips.

  • Less dryer time. Rescue your wardrobe from the dryer sooner by removing your clothes promptly. Leaving clothes in the dryer sets terrible wrinkles, which require way more ironing time. I find removing ironables when still very slightly damp helps to lessen ironing time as well.
  • Get foiled. Try inserting aluminum foil between the ironing board and the cover. This helps to conserve heat and gets the job done faster.
  • Get spritzed. Get an inexpensive bottle sprayer and add some water. Spraying to moisten ironable items helps to soften wrinkles and requires less time to press.

5. Clean Conclusions

Getting dirty things clean doesn’t have to be a drag. By employing these few wonderful washing techniques, you can save big bucks over the years.

Do you have some tips for washing your wardrobe? Any tricks for saving cleaning dollars? Want to talk dirty?

Your two cents:

  1. Catherine February 27th, 2012

    Everyone should know that you can get an HE washing machine that is a top loader. They are wonderful! They don’t have agitators in them, they are less likely to get the mold issues that front loaders are prone to, and they are also high capacity. Mine is 5 cubic feet.
    I love using the clothes line to dry clothes. I look forward every spring to the wonderful smell my clothes get from drying on the line.

  2. Brittany October 3rd, 2012

    I am a smoker and I use vinager…it’s gets the smoke smell out…my fiancĂ© works in a shop and it get the shop smell out of his clothes also…no smell of vinager wonderful idea

  3. Luellyn November 30th, 2012

    A handy tip I learned when living in the Med region. To avoid ironing, pull out nice shirts from the wash before the spin cycle (dripping-use a pan or bucket) put the shirts on a heavy hanger and then clothes-pin the bottom hem of the shirt to the clothes line. The hangar will weigh down the fabric and the shirt will dry without wrinkles. And if a sudden storm blows in before things are completely dry you can easily run out and collect everything via the hangars and hang them on the shower rod to finish drying.

  4. Luellyn November 30th, 2012

    I just tried the walmart brand (GreatValue) and since my washer discharges into the laundry sink, I can tell how much suds are in the rinse. I found that I only need about one-half a scoop for a maximum load. Not bad for the value and I actually like the smell OK. When we have smelly stuff or greasy stuff, I, too, swear by the vinegar and baking soda and borax.
    BTW Borax is an excellent insect repellent and is relatively non-toxic, so I can use it in my kitchen.

  5. Alice December 21st, 2012

    I’m living in Sweden, and I’ve never seen a top-loading washingmachine in real life (only in movies and on YouTube clips)… So I find it quite strange that you on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean use a harder-to-use (how do you reach that sock at the bottom of the machine? I don’t get it!), less efficient, less everything machine for something that you do every day?

    Also, ditch the softener. The only thing it adds is parfume…

  6. Jules January 1st, 2015

    For heavy stains I soak white towels in hot water first then run a regular cycle in cold water. I add red sheets and dark green towels to the white towels to create a full load (all have been tested as color fast). I partition the dark green towels and red sheets into large laundry mesh bags to avoid pilling/friction. For dark jeans I turn them inside out and soak them in cold water for at least an hour and add vinegar to hold the dye-often I let them sit in the water overnight. I wash them in tap cold water and if I have other darks to wash I turn them inside out and add them to large laundry mesh bags then air dry. I avoid dry cleaning heavy winter wool coats (ones which will retain their shape after being wet) and some leather jackets by washing both in tap cold water setting and air drying. I use Obenaufs on leather to restore the oil and condition, checking for colorfastness first. Most heavier wool and cashmere sweaters I wash on tap cold setting, turned inside out and within laundry bags with like colors. Air dry! Gym clothes/pajamas are put in mesh bags with towels then dried for 15 minutes prior to air drying. Also have a bottle of waterproofing solution for the wash machine which I use about once a year on my waterproof clothing to restore it-much better than replacing it due to a slow leak or dealing with a slow leak. High maintenance items which require dry cleaning or extensive ironing? Use Shout wipes (always in my purse) in case of a small spill. Also great for those times when you don’t have a change of clothing handy and have a spill. Shout wipes are great for us adults who never outgrew the spill-prone stage. They’re only expensive if you’re not spill-prone. Much cheaper and less time consuming than washing one lone red sweater before it stains!

  7. Diane March 14th, 2015

    I bought a set of six natural wool “dryer balls” at our farmers market last year. You add the balls in the dryer, and the bouncing action moves the clothes around, dries them in far less time, and also bounces out wrinkles without using fabric softener.

  8. Susan March 15th, 2015

    I use the cloth fabric softeners. They may be $14 for two, but they last 5 years.

  9. Ciara April 23rd, 2015

    While this was great info, there is some misleading information. Just two I nitpicked: powder detergent is actually bad for your septic tank and could cost you thousands in the long run. Also, cheaper detergents make more suds which actually cause machine to keep running and waste more gallons of water.

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