5 Easy Ways to Save Money on Laundry
There are days when it feels like all I do is laundry. I have 3 sons and husband who works a very messy job in a steel shop. By the end of the day, even on a light day of playing and working, my laundry baskets are full.
It used to be overwhelming to need to do three separate loads of laundry for my children, husband (whose clothes used to need to get washed twice) and myself. And even then, when I did a normal load of towels in the dryer, they were still soggy when the cycle was done. I was at my wit’s end trying to stay on budget but spending so much money doing laundry all the time.
“They” say that we need to use fabric softener in every load, a full cap of detergent, laundry booster, and then dryer sheets to cut down on static and leave the “laundry fresh scent.” But why do we need all of that? Can’t we just do laundry without jumping through hoops?
Finally, I decided that it was time to change. I needed to find a way to save money on laundry while still keeping my family in clean clothes.
Even with all the laundry that I do, it’s still one of my least expensive chores! After years of trying to cut corners and pinch pennies I’ve found not just the cheapest way to do our laundry, but the most effective, too.
Make your own detergent
I have an active and dirty family of 5. I started making our own detergent 3 years ago and I’ve never gone back to the store-bought kind. The detergent that I make is safe enough for my newborn and for both of my sensitive-skinned little guys but strong enough for my husband’s work clothes from his machine shop. You can find the you-probably-have-the-ingredients-already recipe here.
Skip the fabric softener
It’s really unnecessary to use fabric softener. It costs extra money and it’s full of chemicals. Use 1/4 cup of white vinegar tough love clothes and to make them soft. Don’t worry about the smell. You can’t smell the vinegar after the clothes have gone through the cycle. You can also make sure that you add a few drops of essential oil for a floral smell if that is something that you really like. I use lemon and lavender in most of my loads of laundry. If the kids are sick I use tea tree oil and thieves oil to get rid of extra germs.
Ditch the dryer sheets
Again with the expense and the chemicals. Dryer sheets are really expensive and they’re really unnecessary, especially when you can get wool dryer balls that last up to 2 years for around $20. They cut the dry time, they fluff up clothes and towels, and you can drop some essential oils on them to add scent. They are my go-to dryer aide. If you can’t find wool dryer balls, you can use tennis balls wrapped in white tube socks for a while until you can get really good dryer balls.
You can choose to skip the dryer altogether and use the drying rack or clothesline to dry your laundry it’s not always possible but it extends the life of your clothes and it is 100% free. And who doesn’t love free, right?!
I’ll be honest, I don’t air dry as often as I should: the winter really puts a damper on wanting to handle wet things outside in the cold. But I always air dry my cloth diapers. And when you air dry white clothes (but especially cloth diapers), the sun acts as one of the most powerful bleaching agents in the world. The sun has been able to get stains out of things that I had given up hope of ever removing.
Air drying is a twofer bonus: free dryer AND chemical free/ money free bleaching!
Maintain your dryer
Have you use dryer sheets forever? You might want to check your lint trap. Scrape off all of the lint and then run some water over your mesh screen lint trap. Does the water beat up? Or does the water pass right through it? If the water beads up and rolls off of it, kind of like water off a duck’s back, your fabric softener has left a film that is making it harder for your clothes to dry. It might even pose a fire hazard. The best way to get this nasty film off is to scrub the lint trap lightly with Dawn dish soap until the water passes through it. Make sure to let your dryer screen dry completely before putting it back into your dryer.
If your clothes aren’t getting fully dry in a regular dry cycle, you will want to check your dryer vent. Chances are, your dryer isn’t broken, but your vent hose is juts full of lint. Again, it’s a fire hazard AND it’s wasting so much energy and time. You can easily clean it out yourself, or if you’re like me (and have a 15-foot-long dryer hose that goes from the basement through the ceiling drywall) and can’t get to the hose yourself, you can easily hire someone to do it for a fairly low price.
I’ve been called a cheapskate before in the past, and it isn’t incorrect! I don’t like to spend money. But I especially don’t like to spend money on things that are either adding harmful chemicals to my home or are just basically paying for trash.
By using or skipping these things in my laundry routine, I save a lot of money. But just as importantly, I save a lot of time on the laundry. By using my own laundry detergent, I’m able to use the same safe and effective detergent on everyone from my little baby to my husband’s work clothes. I don’t have to spend the whole day in the laundry room doing 10 different loads of laundry. By maintaining my dryer, I don’t have to run each full load of laundry through the dryer 3 times hoping that it will dry after the third cycle.
What do you do to save money on your laundry?
Mother of 3 says
I never even made it past your first line… I will go back and read it all I promise but I just had to comment… WOW! That first sentence felt like I was reading about my own life! I too have three sons and a husband that works manufacturing steal products. I feel your laundry pain!!
Mother of 3 recently posted…75 Screen Free Activities for Spring
That’s so crazy!!!!! I’m so glad that someone understands the reality of boy laundry!!!!!
Yes…laundry is the never ending demon! But I love all of these tips and tricks. I used to hang my laundry to try, and a couple years ago I got lazy with it. You’ve inspired me to start it up again, so thank you! I’m so glad you linked up at Turn it Up Tuesday!
Julie @ Logger's Wife says
I love my wool dryer balls and in the summer I do hang my laundry outside. I have given up on homemade detergent, though. It never seems to work well for me. We use a propane dryer instead of an electric one. Not a ton cheaper but it is a little cheaper to run. For now, anyway. 🙂 #Titus2Tuesday
Julie @ Logger’s Wife recently posted…Small Business Mom: Amber with Sweet Fig Handicrafts
I love it, I have been looking for a detergent recipe forever, thank you for sharing yours. I only have myself and my two daughters, but I feel your pain of doing laundry all the time. I finally stopped sorting everything but the socks and underwear, everything goes in together now on cold cycle (but I understand that wouldn’t work with your husbands clothes, I wouldn’t want my clothes in with those either).
I follow all the other steps, except I have to admit I don’t have dryer balls (I’m too cheap), I bought some regular tennis balls from the store and made a couple of tin foil balls and I throw those in my dryer when I have to dry something. They are a lot louder than the nice wool balls, but I just can’t bring myself to spend the $20 (and I love that I can just put a couple of drops of essential oils straight on the tennis balls).
Thank you for sharing all the great tips, people have called me weird for doing all these things, it’s nice to know I am not the only one 😉
I stopped using liquid softeners years ago. I couldn’t tell the difference and learned that these softeners were one of the reasons my towels didn’t seem absorbent anymore even though they looked good. The softener leaves a residue that builds up over time. I also will not put dryer sheets in with towels or sheets for the same reason. I love crisp sheets (seriously, I would iron them with heavy starch if I had the time) and my towels are never rough, unless you hang dry them. I hang dry a great deal–less friction on your clothes (I also turn most of my clothes inside out before washing). You get less pilling and your clothes will last longer. Even dresses and slacks that are labeled ‘dry clean only’. I wouldn’t try washing a good wool coat, but have rarely had a problem–just be careful with wool and silk. Truthfully I’d try washing a good wool coat if I thought I could ever get it pressed well enough. I plan to try making my own detergent. I recently began making my own dishwasher powder in a new dishwasher and my dishes come out clean and sparkling.
I loved your article but I do have a question. How do you store the wool dryer balls?
Thanks, Gena! Honestly, I usually wind up storing mine right in the dryer or in a basket on the top. I’m sure that there’s a “correct” way to do that, but that’s what I do for mine!
If you do use a dryer, use it only on evenings and weekends, when the electricity rates are WAAAAAY lower. Look into your companies rates…it’s crazy the difference between peak and off-peak costs. Just learned this helpful tidbit recently, and have seen a $27 savings between last and this month’s bills.
I also use dryer balls, and skip any fabric softener/sheets. I do use store-bought detergent, but use less than recommended amount and add a splash of white vinegar to each load.
Some really good info! I am interested in checking out the wool balls for the dryer and I will definitely have to check out the recipe for laundry detergent. Thanks for the tips!
– – Rachel @ Tidy&Teal
Looking for a solution to static electricity. I use white vinegar in my wash, and in the dryer I already have a wool ball and a foil ball. Any suggestions? Thanks, Deb
Hi Deb! Definitely, check out wool dryer balls. They are amazing and will last you for a long time. They cut down on dry time, static, and will eliminate the need for dryer sheets. 🙂