Five Tips for Reducing Laundry Costs

As I mentioned before, we recently moved.  While there are lots of up-sides to our move, there are a few downsides.  One is moving further away from my parents, and thus, their washer and dryer and our “free use” washer and dryer.  (Lest you think I only visit my parents for the free laundry, let me assure you I don’t!  I love going up there each week to spend time with my family, get out of the city, help in the garden, etc.  Free laundry was a perk of going up there each week.)  When we lived at our old place, we rarely did laundry in the apartment’s washers and dryers, which saved us a fair amount of money.  Now that we live further away, we’ll have to do more laundry in the apartment’s washers and dryers and I’ve been trying to come up with more ways to save money on laundry.  Laundry is also more expensive here than it was at our last place, thus adding to my desire for creative solutions.  Here are some tips I’ve used in the past and plan to start using:

1) Combine two wash loads in to one dryer load.  At our previous place, the dryers could easily handle one-and-a-half or two washer loads, depending on clothing type, thus saving us the cost of one dryer load.

2) Skip the dryers and use drying racks.  Now that we have a larger apartment with more room to set up drying racks, I’m going to look in to getting one or two more.  There are a wide variety of designs and many of them fold up for easy storage.  Here’s a great article that has pictures of more varieties of drying racks than you could ever imagine.  If there are a few articles of clothing you need for work the next day, do one dryer load and hang up the rest.  I tend to send the larger, heavier items to the dryer and save the drying racks for smaller items, like socks and underwear, so I can fit more items on the rack.

3) See if you can use a friend or family member’s washer and dryer.  Consider offering something in return for the use of the washer and dryer.  Cook the person a meal, do a bit of cleaning while your clothes wash, take their pet for a walk, or offer some other service or item you’re good at.

3) Have fewer clothes.  Much easier said than done (at least for me!), but having fewer clothes means fewer clothes to wear, which means less laundry to wash.  Within reason, of course.  If you get rid of too many clothes, you’ll just be doing mini-loads of laundry every other day!  That’s no good either…

4) Wear clothes more than once.  In my mind, everyone already does this, but I understand that reality maybe different, so I’m adding this one to the list.  If you only wore that sweatshirt for a few hours while you watched TV, it can certainly be worn again.  This may work well for work clothes, too, depending on your job.  I work at a kennel and while my clothes don’t stay the cleanest, I can usually get a couple days of wear out of them before they’re too dirty for me to look presentable while I’m running the office.  No point in putting on a clean pair of pants just so they can get muddy five minutes after I arrive at work!

5) Make your own laundry detergent.  This doesn’t help reduce your weekly washer/dryer costs, but it can still save you money.  Making your own detergent is fairly simple and doesn’t take much time.  You’ll need three ingredients: washing soda (not baking soda), borax, and bar soap (any regular bar soap, soap flakes, Fels Naptha, Zote, etc.).  Side note: Zote soap can also be used as catfish bait.  Mix equal parts of each and you’re done.  Use one or two spoonfuls.  If you prefer a liquid laundry detergent, check Trent’s step-by-step guide over at The Simple Dollar.  In the three or so years that we’ve made our own laundry detergent, we’ve bought two boxes each of borax and washing soda.  I’ve also used liquid detergent here and there if I find it on sale or ended up at my parents’ without my laundry detergent.  I’ve found Zote Soap, Fels Naptha, the washing soda, and the borax at local grocery stores.  With the exception of the Zote, all the items were in the laundry/cleaners section.  Zote soap is in the ethnic section, although I have seen it in the laundry section of some Wal-Marts.

Those are some of the techniques I use to try and save money on laundry.  Do you use other tricks that I didn’t mention here?  Let me know – I’d love to hear about them!

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