Save money by being smarter in the laundry room! Here are some basic tips for keeping your clothes cleaner, and using less product and electricity when cleaning your textiles.
Before you Wash
- Use a sheet - Using a sheet over your mattress and under your blankets will prolong the life of your bed and bedding. Washing a sheet or pillowcase is a lot less expensive than having to get new mattresses, pillows and blankets on an annual basis.
- Use tee shirts under sweaters, blouses and button-down shirts. This way you really only need to wash the tee shirt that was against your skin, and keep the nicer shirts clean longer.
- Before washing, attack new stains right away. Rinsing a stain off your garment or bedding item right after it happens gives you the best possible chance of getting the stain out. Use cold water and soap, or a product like Shout! This will really prolong the life of your clothes, blankets and sheets.
At the Washer
- Wash clothes less often - Not every garment is dirty after a use or two. Smell your clothes after you remove them and look for stains. If nothing appears dirty, put it back on your shelf. Clothing that never touches your skin (aka, outwear or out layered shirts) can go even longer. Excess clothes washing uses more electricity and breaks down your clothing faster. Think before you toss your clothes in the hamper.
- Use the right amount of water - if you are running a small load, use the setting for smaller amounts of water. Running big loads less often gives you over all electrical savings, but you don't have to feel guilty about smaller loads if you set your washer accordingly.
- Use the cold setting - I don't even have hot water in my house, and you bet I save a ton of money not heating a water tank continuously. I do realize most people have hot and cold running water, however. Before you do a wash load, think about temperature. Most garments and linens get plenty clean with just a cold water setting. Simply use a laundry detergent that works with cold water settings, or make your own detergent with something like Fels-Naptha. For things you want to disinfect or de-stain, consider using bleach, vinegar, baking soda, Borax, washing soda, blueing liquid, Spray-N-Wash, Woolite, powdered water softener or Oxyclean. There are a whole lot of ways to get that white, clean and fresh sensation than using scalding water with soap. And with some stains, such as those that are protein based (ie - blood, urine, vomit, poop, wine), hot water will only set those stains forever. Learn about stain removal techniques and skip the hot water completely.
- Use one rinse cycle. Most of the time, the second rinse cycle is unnecessary. Try using less detergent in the first place - usually we need only a third of what we actually add to our washers.
At the Dryer
- Skip the dryer. Hang your clothes outside, or set up a line inside. Clothes dryers are huge electricity hogs, and only serve to wear your clothes out faster. I don't even own a dryer. You can pull your dryer out and sell it on Craigslist.org. Don't be be tempted to use it, if you can possibly get away without one. Air drying is 100% free!
- Use the cold settings, if you must use a dryer. Don't scorch your clothes. Remove things that are are nearly dry and let the air do the rest of the job.
- Hang big items like blankets to let the smaller stuff dry at roughly the same time.
- Hang your nicer clothes on a hanger in the laundry room and let the towels and socks spin alone. Think about which items you can keep out of the dryer to make the load lighter and quicker to run.
Play with Ingredients
I like to have a full array of simple cleaning ingredients to choose from when treating stains, pre-washing, and boosting the whites/colors of my laundry. Simple experimentation will result in cleaner loads done using less product, heat and electricity.
Amazon has many affordable ingredients to start you off, such as Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap and 20 Mule Team Borax Laundry Pretreater and Booster.