May 07 2009

Laundry habits changing in light of economy

People are getting more wear out of their wardrobes, according to this article in today’s Post-Gazette. To save money on dry-cleaning and regular laundry costs, some people are wearing their clothes more between washings, packing more clothes in washers, and *gasp* doing their own laundry instead of sending it out to be washed.

If you overfill a washer, you won’t get clean clothes, so that isn’t a good way to save money.

But, wearing your clothes a second time between washings (assuming your baby hasn’t spit up all over you, and assuming it doesn’t smell bad, etc.) can extend the life of your clothes and save your laundry costs.

At $1.25 per wash and per dry for me, that adds up!

  • I have two drying racks and use them whenever the clothes are light-weight enough to be dry within 24 hours.
  • I don’t use fabric softener. I don’t miss it. Some people add vinegar to their rinse cycles as a way to save money.
  • We wear jeans as many times as we can before washing them. For one, it takes a lot of wear for them to look rumpled. For two, it extends the life. And finally, since jeans are a heavier material, I won’t have to dry them as often. I use coin-op machines in our basement and the jeans get one dry cycle and then I hang them to dry the rest of the way.
  • We don’t wear dry-clean-only clothing. My husband doesn’t have to wear suits to work. I don’t have to wear a cocktail dress to bounce my baby on my knee. Avoiding dry-cleaning costs can save a ton.

Whenever we get our own washer/dryer, I’m going to get an energy efficient front-loading model. They use much less water than top loaders and the lower my utility bills, the better!

How do you save with laundry?



10 Responses to “Laundry habits changing in light of economy”

  1. Careful with the front loads – they have a tendency to break right after their warranty is up. They’re also more expensive to fix than “traditional” washers. Not all brands are bad, but you have to do your research. :-)

    My $ saving tip: Only do full loads. Simple, but effective.

    If you’re paying to heat the water, try using cold water. Unless the load is very dirty, the clothing will get just as clean in cold water. Many detergents now work well in cold water, they just won’t tell you that – they want you to pay extra for the “cold water” label.

  2. We wear our jeans several times before washing them, and try to wear shirts more than once if they don’t smell bad/dirty. I hang up as many clothes in our laundry room that I can, to prevent wear and tear from the dryer, as well as save a little in energy costs.

    I don’t use fabric softeners, and wash mostly everything in cold water.

    We have a energy efficient front loading washer, and that helps too.

  3. Really? You mean everyone doesn’t wear the same pants five times in a row before washing? I’ve done that ALL my entire life. We also use towels for weeks (yes weeks) at a time. I was raised that way. It’s just water and you’re clean after the shower right? So what’s the problem? :)

    Plus I hate doing laundry.

  4. I am weird about wearing shirts more than once because I sweat on them. T shirts I wear around the house numerous times, but work clothes weird me out if I wear them more than once. :) Pants I do wear more than once too. I’ve never understood people who wear new pjs every night. You’re not getting dirty at night! (well, maybe, but I’m not going there ;) )

    I think it’s great because washing fewer loads saves energy, water, and detergents from making their way into our waterways. I have a front loader and I love it!

    Here’s some of the weird laundry things I do: make my own detergent, vinegar as fabric softener, and I hang dry everything in my basement on clotheslines I hung. Either there or outside! I’m always afraid someone will come over when I’ve got laundry hanging and know how weird I am. :)

  5. I bought a front loader for my condo and was glad when I sold it with the condo. I thought it would be so much better but it used to leak from the detergent dispenser every so often, didn’t seem to clean as well and was uncomfortable to load and unload.

    So much for my attempt at going green…

  6. I’m also one of those people who wear pants MULTIPLE times before washing. and our towels are used for about a week before we wash them, sometimes more. I’ve also been known to not change the sheets for a few weeks (unless Lexi was sweating really bad, which does happen for some reason).

    We’ve been hanging our clothes for a few weeks now, (inside on a drying rack) I did an energy test which blew my mind.

    The dryer was on, I went outside and looked at the meter, I could could “4 Mississippi” while it spun around once. When the dryer stopped I went back out to check it again. The results? “45 Mississippi” I decided it wasn’t worth it to have my clothes dry faster. The only exception is I do put Jeans in for about 10-15 minutes before hanging them, and if I really need clean diapers fast sometimes I have to use the dryer.

    oh and we don’t use fabric softener. Do people still use that stuff? I read an article about how bad it was and stopped. I don’t notice a difference for the most part.

  7. I know that some people wash their bath towels after each use! That’s a lot of laundry for something that was used to dry off a clean body.

  8. I find it surprising how many have had problems with a front load washer. I have had mine for over 4 yrs and haven’t had any problems. We did get the extended warrenty on it and have had it serviced once a year. I only use about half as much det. as it calls for and if I do use fabric softener then I water it down as well. As for the sore back issue- My husband built me stands for the washer and dryer both. I love the added hieght and the extra storage space below is great. I know that you can buy them but I found most of the materials on craigslist for free or next to free.

  9. I bought a retractable clothesline from Amazon. I have it outside, but you could put it inside also. I love using it! This is my first year. I just love thinking about the money I’m saving by not using our old dryer.

  10. We don’t. At all. Why, you ask? Because my husband, who I love truly and deeply, has severe eczema and is tending to get MRSA infections. So he has to wash his clothes after every wash. And towels. We do $40-50 worth of laundry each month.

    On the other hand, I work at home and so can wear scrubs a lot. Which may just about even us out. Almost.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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