Eleven Effective Ways to Reduce Your Laundry Costs

We currently have five people living at our home. Let’s say, hypothetically, we all change clothes twice a day (it’s often more than that due to the nonstop accidents, spills, and other things that go on in such a household). That’s ten outfits’ worth of clothes to wash each and every day. We also cloth diaper our youngest child, so that piles on an extra burden of laundry.

Needless to say, our washer seems to run all the time. Every time the washer runs, a little money goes straight down the tubes. Because it runs so often, it’s always useful to find little ways to reduce that cost per load. Here are eleven tactics we’ve found that work for us.

The BucketMake your own detergent. We often make our own laundry detergent (here’s how we do it with pictures and I also made a video of how I made a later batch). According to our calculations, it reduced the cost of detergent per load from $0.20 to about $0.02 – an $0.18 saving per load. Considering we average multiple loads daily, that savings adds up pretty quick. The best part is this detergent has no perfumes or other such allergens in it.

Use vinegar as your softener. We basically don’t buy fabric softener unless we literally find a sale that makes it virtually free (or at least less than a jumbo jug of vinegar). Yes, a cap full of vinegar in the softener spot does the trick. Not only that, it also helps greatly with any lingering odor that might be in the washing machine or in the clothes themselves.

Wash only (very) full loads. With the exception of the cloth diapers (which we wash separately and which we don’t have enough of to fill an entire load), we strive to have very full loads of laundry. Yes, we mix together colored and whites from all family members, washing a little boy’s t-shirt together with my jeans, for example. A very full load means less water used and less energy used per item of clothing.

Dry your clothes by hanging them. If you can, hang your clothes to dry instead of sucking down energy in the dryer. An average dryer run eats about $0.25 worth of electricity. Hanging them up accomplishes the same thing for free. We would hang up an awful lot of our clothes if we had a great place to put a clothesline – unfortunately, our only location that works for a clothesline would sit right in the middle of the space where our children (and the neighbor’s children) usually play in the yard. Thus, for now, most of our hanging takes the form of a temporary line hung up in our basement sometimes (it helps when we’re doing a bunch of loads of laundry at once, as clothes wash faster than they dry).

Wash your clothes in cold water. Hot water has to be heated and you’re paying for that service. Unless your clothes are exceptionally dirty, cold water does the trick just fine. The only time I run anything besides cold/cold on our washing machine is if I see caked-on stuff on a kid’s shirt or something.

Use the shortest cycle. Our washer, like many out there, offers a ton of options for the wash. I choose the shortest one, again, unless the clothes are awfully dirty. This saves wear and tear on the clothes (reducing replacement costs) and also reduces energy use and some water use.

Be diligent about removing dryer lint. We empty the lint trap on the dryer before every single load. It is simply part of the required routine. If you don’t do this, you reduce the warm air flow around the clothes, increasing the time the dryer has to run to get your clothes to the same level of dryness. That’s energy used, and that’s money lost.

Remove obstructions from the external dryer vent. You should also know where your dryer vent goes. It empties out somewhere on the outside of your building or home. Look for the external vent and make sure it’s not obstructed. Lift up the vent and make sure there’s no lint or anything else built up inside that vent. Again, you’re trying to improve the air flow, because that external vent blows out very moist air (the moisture that’s being removed from the clothes). If it can’t get out, that very moist air stays in with your clothes, increasing drying time and increasing your expenses.

Shake out clothes before you put them in the dryer. As you take clothes from the washer to the dryer, shake them out completely. This is basic science – you’re increasing the surface area of the clothes so that more warm air comes in contact with the clothes in the dryer, making them dry faster, reducing the time and the amount of energy used when your dryer is running. Money is energy – shaking out your clothes saves both.

Pull clothes out of the dryer before they’re completely dry. This is particularly true if you intend to iron the item, because you already want the clothes to be a little damp before you bust out the iron. This, again, means the dryer runs less, which is a win for your pocket book.

Save for your own washer and dryer. If you’re in a situation where you’re using a coin-operated laundry machine, you will save significantly over the long run if you get your own washer and dryer hooked up. The cost per load when you own your own washer and dryer is far, far less than it is at a coin-operated laundry facility. Yes, the washer and dryer can be major expenses, but the savings are tremendous over even the course of a year or two.

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97 thoughts on “Eleven Effective Ways to Reduce Your Laundry Costs

  1. Cheryl says:

    For very dirty items (like socks worn with sandals), soak in a bucket or wash tub. Wring out before putting in the wash load.

  2. Andi says:

    I’d like to see the calculations that owning your own washer and dryer is a “tremendous savings.” We do own ours but it’s an issue of convenience – the nearest laundry mat is 10 miles away in another town. Usually the washers and dryers hold very large loads – twice what I can do at home. And new appliances are expensive – even bare bones washing machines are several hundred dollars. Figure a life time of 10 years plus utilities to run them. We also have 5 in our household – 3 kids and a farmer – lots of dirt. Minimum, I do 10 large loads a week – 520 loads a year. . .

  3. cv says:

    You missed one thing I thought you’d mention: wash your clothing only when it’s actually dirty. For example, I frequently come home from work and change into a different shirt, which I only wear for a couple of hours in the evening. I fold that shirt when I take it off and can wear it a couple of other evenings that week without a problem before tossing it in the wash. Jeans and some other items also get washed less than every wearing.

    Of course, if something got visible dirt on it or is sweaty or smelly, of course wash it right away. I can’t imagine throwing two complete outfits a day into the laundry basket as an adult (for the kids, of course I can understand it – they’re much messier).

  4. Maureen says:

    We weren’t pleased with the results we got using your detergent recipe – we found the clothes got dingy after repeated washings. However, we save when using commercial detergent (Tide) by using less than the recommended amount(maybe half).

    We save when using the dryer by cutting the fabric softener sheets in half. We have found they work just as well.

  5. Gretchen says:

    You and your wife also change clothes twice a day?

    And I know you missed the most obvious savings on purpose: line dry the clothes.

  6. Greg says:

    I use a normal small towel to dry myself after taking a shower, and hence I have less to put in the washing machine. I find that a small towel gets me just as dry as a full-size bathroom towel. I don’t find it uncomfortable at all.

  7. Leah says:

    You really change your clothes that often? Granted, I don’t have kids . . . but I do work with kids. I’ve got a set of play clothes that I wear to work, and I don’t fuss about them. I currently have paint on my jeans and dirt on my shirt (I’m on break). Meh. I wear my shirts 2-3x unless they’re stinky, because I figure they’ll just get dirty again.

    Then, I have nicer clothes that I change into when I get home. When I have kids, I figure I’ll change into those nicer clothes when we leave the house and save play clothes for around the house.

    I’m still shocked at that — two outfit changes a day. Wow.

    To save money when doing laundry, I:
    1. use WAY less than the recommended amount. Like a tablespoon per load. I just experimented and saw how little was too little.

    2. Line dry everything. I’ve got a few racks that I set up in my living room. The only things I don’t line dry are by request of my boyfriend: we dry his no-iron shirts and pants.

    3. The boyfriend wears his dress clothes multiple times, so we do a load of dress clothes every other week. He alternates shirts and changes up the ties to keep the looks different.

    4. Spot-clean — if there’s just a little spot, I rinse it out in the sink. No need to wash then! That helps me keep wearing clothes that aren’t truly dirty so I can stretch time between loads.

  8. Hope D says:

    Trent- I’ll try the vinegar for fabric softner.

    Maureen- I agree with you about the homemade detergent. I noticed my clothes getting dingier and dingier. Love Charlie’s Soap.

    Gretchen- He did mention drying the clothes on the line.

    Greg- Are you bald? I have a 3 year old I couldn’t get dry with a hand towel.

  9. marta says:

    Gretchen, he did mention that: “Dry your clothes by hanging them.”

    Of course, he also said (again) why he won’t line dry his clothes. ;)

    ***

    I usually run one load, two at most, per week. I am not too fussy about following the instructions on the labels, and I mix towels with clothes, and so on. I run most of my loads cold and I always line dry, so I don’t think I am doing a lot of damage to my stuff.

    I have got neither the room nor the will to make my own laundry detergent. I don’t run enough loads to justify the trouble. I use half the recommended amount of detergent, and even that is more than enough. I spend *maybe* 20 euros a year on detergent. I can live with that.

    I change outfits often during the day, between the clothes I wear when I go out, my workout clothes and the clothes I wear while I am home. There is no way I am going to wash all of those after just a few hours of wear, if they aren’t really dirty or smell bad. Well, except for the workout clothes, which usually are too sweaty (obviously).

    I know there are people who wash their bath towels after one or two uses, which I also find to be excessive.

    Life is too short; I don’t want to spend that much time on laundry.

  10. Anna says:

    I buy detergant when it is on SUPER sales making it just a few dollars for 120 load bottle, I than use less than 1/2 of the recommended amount and only run full loads of cold water in my washing machine. I have found out there is a major difference between a homemade soap in cold water (doesn’t dissolve or clean) and using a name brand like Tide (requires so much less and cleans better) is worth watching sales because it also doesn’t require me having to do any labor to make the soap.

  11. eva says:

    How helpful for the homeowners. Any tips for those of us who rent?

  12. Clear Choice says:

    I really like this post, and will try each of these strategies at home. One side benefit of hang-drying clothes, especially if you do it outside, is the fresh air smell!

  13. Deb says:

    For those of you who run a dehumidifier in the basement in the summer–empty the dehumidifier water into the washer for some “free” water–especially for those who live in the city and pay for their water. It provides nice soft water for washing clothes and is better than emptying it down the drain. The water could also be used for watering houseplants or container plants.

  14. Brittany says:

    I’d also like to see your math on how buying your own is cheaper over a singel year or two, as you claim. Buying inefficient, low-end models, the cheapest I could find in a quick search was $350 for a washer and $300 for a dryer. Add tax at 8%, and that’s a $680 purchase.

    I’m a single person. I do 2-3 washes and 1-2 loads of drying ever 3 weeks or so (hang one load (my nice work clothes)). It’s $1/load to wash or dry,so even going on the expensive side, let’s say I spend $5 on laundry every three weeks. That’s about $87 a year. It would take me 8 years to break even on the purchase price alone. That’s ignoring water and electricity costs!

    Given that the average life of a decent washer and dryer is ten years (perhaps less for the cheapo model in the example), that’s hardly worth it. Including electric and water costs, my break even point would probably come right at the end of the washer’s life, if not after. That’s nowhere near a “tremendous” savings ever, much less in a year or two.

    Even if you’re Trent’s family, going through 10 outfits a day (a little less than one load a day), you’re still not seeing savings the first year.

  15. Molly says:

    @6 George and @8 Hope, sometimes I do the small towel drying, too. Especially when I’m at a hotel, and I’m not provided with a huge pile of big towels, I’ll use one big one for the hair and one hand towel for the rest of me.

    Also, I change clothes at least twice a day, like @9 marta – and I need to wash the workout clothes every time. I usually need to watch whatever shirts I wear, too, because I sweat and smell a lot.

    I’d add:
    12. Fold clothes as soon as they come out of the dryer (if you’re using it).
    13. Run the dryer multiple loads in a row, not spread out – it takes less time to heat the subsequent loads.

  16. Brittany says:

    However, doing these calcuations does make me feel better about going to the laundromat.

  17. ellie says:

    I use an umbrella clothesline that fits neatly into any corner of my yard.

    Brittany #13 – I think it makes a big difference how many children you must keep busy while doing laundry.

  18. KC says:

    Like others have said – only wash your clothes when they are dirty. I sit around the house in t-shirts and shorts – if I’m not sweating in them or spilling something on them I may go a week before washing them. But it depends on the person – my husband couldn’t do this – his pH is too different.

    I also use less than the recommended amount of detergent recommended – 25-50% less depending on the dirtiness of the clothes.

    I use dryer sheets, but I cut them in half and sometimes quarters depending on what I’m using them for. Sometimes I can even reuse a half sheet if it still feels like their is softener on it.

    If I have wet items that are waiting to get in the dryer I put them on top so they can dry some from the heat put off by the dryer currently in use.

    I play a lot of tennis and my husband runs. We get soaked in sweat. We wash these garments in the sink with a little woolite to get the sweat out so it doesn’t get set-in before doing the next batch of laundry(sort of like a pre-wash). Sometimes I can re-wear these garments before having to machine wash them. My husband can’t, but it still helps these clothes get cleaner and fresher when they are machine washed. I also think it helps them last a little longer since the acidic sweat doesn’t get set in.

  19. Dorothy says:

    I’m with Leah but I take things a step farther in terms of using the dryer.

    I dry sheets and towels and cotton underwear all the way. But for all my outerwear I dry them for a few minutes to shake out the wrinkles, then I hang them on hangers to finish drying.

    I can hang the hangers from door frames in the absence of anywhere else to hang them. When the clothes are fully dry I put them in the closet. This works for knits and for woven stuff like wash and wear shirts and slacks. Just pull that part of the load out of the dryer, and shake each garment out as you hang it.

    I think this makes my clothes last longer.

    Also, what’s with the fabric softener? I just don’t have a need for it. It’s an expense and a chore and clutter I don’t buy into.

    Lastly, purchase your clothing with an eye to washing it. Avoid garments that must be dry-cleaned or ironed. Emphasis on the word “must”. Know that many garments marked “dry clean only” can be washed on the gentle cycle of your washer or hand washed. Washing garments is better than dry cleaning in at least three ways: It’s much cheaper; you can do it at home; and it’s better for the environment.

  20. triLcat says:

    Dorothy – don’t you have static cling?
    That’s the main reason I use fabric softener.

  21. Sarah says:

    Dorothy-

    You must have different outerwear than me! I can’t hang dry dress shirts or sweaters as they stretch out! I prefer my clothes fitted! That being said, I lay all my nice clothes (anything over $30) out flat to dry, as well as all work clothes and dress clothes. This helps them last a LOT longer and doesn’t stretch out the fit. I also use real hangers to help them keep their shape.

    TriLcat-I’ve never even considered static cling. I’ve never had a problem with it.

    Also, I never dry clean. Like Dorothy, I generally don’t buy dry-clean only items, but for some items- woolen suits, silk shirts, etc – its unavoidable. I just hand rinse in cold water and air dry. I also use those home dry clean kits for formal silk and satin gowns that I get sweaty from dancing!

    I have a great wardrobe and I treat every piece like the investment that it is. But then, I was raised in Europe so I’m not used to the throw-away culture here! It baffles me that people have so many clothes and always just wear t-shirts and jeans!

  22. Kai says:

    Why does it matter whether Trent line-dries his own clothes? I think it’s also insane to have adults going through more than one change of clothes a day (personally, I get a good few wearings out of each item before washing).
    But whether or not Trent follows any or all of these tips has no bearing on whether they could help you, if appropriate to your situation.

  23. Steph says:

    For those who do not have much laundry, perhaps owning their own machines is not cheaper.

    My husband and I rent and do not have our own washer or dryer. We also fo not have A/C so summer means lots of wash from the constant sweating.
    I spend over $100 a month in quarters to do our wash in the coin operated machines in our building. The laundrymat is more expensive.
    We only have one baby and we still have enough laundry for it to be worth it to own our own machines.
    The cheapest I have ever been able to do wash in coin machines is $3.75 per load to wash and get semi-dry.
    I am saving about $20 per month just having a small clothesline in my living room.

  24. Revertive says:

    I hang dry a lot of my clothes, not because it saves energy but because it saves my clothes from pilling, fuzzing, fading, and dying sooner.

  25. Rebecca says:

    I can understand changing multiple times a day, esp when you have very little ones. My babies, and even toddlers would throw up all the time, or major spit ups constantly. A little you can wipe up, but 6 oz of formula down your shirt, you change. My kids think of me as their personal kleenex. Not to mention all the other bodily fluids you tend to get covered in teaching 3 kids to potty train. Accidents and “mis- aims” happen a lot. Mine are now 2, 4 and 5 and I still am filthy by 2pm. Not to mention that I work hard and sweat taking care of the kids and the house. So yeah, I tend to go through at least 2 tops a day.

  26. Brittany says:

    I’m not arguing that owning a washer and dryer isn’t nice or isn’t an almost-necessity (one of those want-not-need-but-really-really-makes-a-difference things) if you have a lot of kids. I remember doing my family’s laundry in a laundromat while we were living in an apartment after our house fire–one adult, one teenagers, and three little kids. It was a miserable,miserable experience, especially when I had the kids with me.

    I still hate going to the laundromat even as a single person. I would love in-house laundry. But I’m not going ot lie to myself and claim I would save money if I bought a washer and dryer. Trent’s making the error of confusing convinence with cost here. (Now, a family might well decide that the convinence is worth the extra cost, and that’s fine. With more than one kid, it most likely always is. But let’s be honest about in our claims about which is cheaper.)

  27. Noadi says:

    Wow, some of you must have cheaper laundromats around than I do. Of course my town only has 1 laundromat so it can charge whatever it wants. A single load in their smallest washer is $2.50, and their dryers are terrible (I live in a small partment, no room to hang clothes). Since I do typically 3 loads per trip (1 load is towels and sheets) every 2 weeks that averages about $12. That’s $312 a year on laundry. A washer and dryer lasts how long? Say 5 years (and plenty last longer). With that sort of lifespan they would save money over the long term unless I lived in a place with very high water and electricity costs. Of course this is a pointless question because I can’t put a washer and dryer in my apartment.

  28. Jane says:

    “My kids think of me as their personal kleenex.”

    Isn’t that the truth! When I’m already out and about, I often realize, to my embarrassment, that I have snot stains on my shoulder from my toddler. And yes, when you have an infant, you usually go through multiple shirts a day – blow-outs, spit up, etc. – all those things often not only end up on your baby but also on you. Since I’ve had children, I’ve decided to only wear inexpensive cotton shirts and pants for this reason.

  29. Lisa says:

    Sounds like you need a Hill’s Hoist http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hills_Hoist the iconic Aussie washing line. Aussies, BTW, think it is insane not to line dry washing – it is almost religious for them … plus, electricity is $$ here. The HH takes up little yard space. I know something like them is available in the US, because my mom had one when I was little and we lived in NH (she dried washing on the line spring through fall). No more excuses! ;-)
    ~Lisa, a Yank Down Under

  30. Kim says:

    I tried making my own detergent. I found my clothes were starting to look dingey. During the summer months, my clothes were not smelling fresh.

    I’m going to try using less of the store bought detergent and just washing in cold water. Great tips.

  31. marie says:

    I would agree with Brittany. I live in an apartment complex and considering that I maybe do 2 loads every 10 days and that I hang them on a rack to dry, owning my own washer/dryer would be way more expensive. If I had a family it would be a different calculation, but for a single person, def. cheaper.

    I don’t really agree with the advice to only wash a very full load. A full load is enough, too full and it usually doesn’t come out as clean.

    I always change as soon as I get home into my pjs so that I don’t dirty my ‘day’ clothes and can wear them at least one more time in the week. So I maybe go through 4 outfits and 2 sets of pjs per week as I wear my pjs for a few nights in a row. That also means that my nice clothes stay nice longer as I’ll cook and clean in my $10 pjs.

  32. Jim says:

    A question about the vinegar. Where do you put it and when do you put it there. Maybe Trent said those and I just didn’t catch it.

    Thank you for the help.

  33. chris says:

    Most modern energy efficient washing machines will automatically decide how much hot/ cold water it needs to use. Also: warm water washing is vastly superior to cold.

  34. Courtney says:

    I love homemade detergent. We’ve been using it for a couple years along with vinegar for fabric softener and our clothes have never looked dingy, they smell very clean and we have saved loads of money.

    As far as having to change clothes during the day, it just depends on your lifestyle. I have young kids and animals, I exercise and work in the garden every day – so yeah, clothing changes are a necessity. If you’re sitting in an office all day keeping clean, then you can probably get by wearing the same clothes all day.

  35. Kara White says:

    I have to disagree about the cold water washing. Our clothes just didn’t get as clean. We could squeak by before we had kids, but now we wash in warm, and I wash my whites/towels in hot with bleach.

    Jim–I put vinegar in the softener part of my washer, and I also put it in the wash with the soap. It’s really good at taking out urine smell. I may use more than necissary, but I have a 10 week old puppy and a 17 month old daughter. I know about bathroom smells in fabric! :)

  36. AndreaS says:

    Regarding the cost effectiveness of buying a washer and dryer: We bought our set new 25 years ago and they are still going strong… barely a repair every required.

    But my daughter, who is just setting up housekeeping, got a free washer and a $10 dryer (plus a free TV, a $25 fridge and a free stove… but that’s a different subject). Craigslist, yard sale, word of mouth. People often get rid of appliances when they move, or want to upgrade to appliances that match in color.

  37. Michele says:

    I line dry almost everything in the winter on nice hangers over the shower door. Since we live in a very cold climate with a lot of snow, I hang on drying racks or hangers everything near a floor heat vent. Works great for me!
    I wash everything that has been worn every day- my husband and I have professional jobs so it would not be a good thing to wear clothes that are not fresh every day. I don’t have to iron very often because we really do buy ‘wash and wear’ clothes. I do own an iron, but I haven’t used it in over a year:)
    I also have a high energy efficient washer and dryer and I love them both!
    Now we are empty nesters, so we have a little more with the options, but I also buy unscented ( I’m highly allergic) all super concentrate (3 x) when it’s on sale at grocery outlet.
    I’ve tried several strengths of vinegar and it stinks too much for me as a softener. Same thing- I got to grocery outlet and buy an inexpensive fabric softener and it makes the clothes less stiff when dried outside or over the heater.

  38. Jesse W. says:

    Saving money on laundry is huge for me! It is amazing how much money I go through in water and electricity so I try to do my wash at night rather than the middle of the day. I also tend to do a lot of laundry with cold water rather than hot.

  39. TODHD says:

    I usually get my laundry detergent from the dollar store

  40. matt says:

    to all those saying, “it only cost $1 at my laundromat and it holds twice as many clothes” Is your time not worth money? Being able to wash my clothes in my home and not drive somewhere and spend an hour at a laundromat (plus gas cost) is worth $20 minimum to me.

  41. Michelle says:

    Really, vinegar makes your clothes stink?? I’ve used it for a really long time and never had an issue. I just put it in with the soap at the beginning of the wash cycle. Even when I use it for cleaning, the smell goes away within 10 minutes. I use 1 cup in the wash, how much are you using?

  42. David says:

    First, consider a spin dryer. These are small, table-top gizmos that spin the clothing very fast, so they get out nearly all the water from the washer. That makes drying time trivial. As for line drying–I live in a very small flat with no room for a dryer, and no yard at all. Thus, we dry everything either on a folding clothes rack in our kitchen or over the tops of the various interior doors for the sheets and other large items. I have seen few yards that didn’t have room somewhere for a clothesline. There are some very good folding ones, too–a company in Australia makes some very nice ones that attach to the side of a house and fold open for use, for example.

  43. Lou says:

    I’m sorry, but the posts on here have just become nonsensical. You’re pinching pennies to the point you make life miserable.

    You don’t go out and see movies, you make you’re own detergent…I’m not trying to be rude, but what do you enjoy? You’re biting your nose to spite your face….

  44. I have been looking into making my own detergent and have a few recipes that I’ll be trying once I run out of my current detergent…….which is a lot because I got it on MASSIVE sale at about two dollars per jug and I stocked up. haha

  45. John S says:

    Matt, exactly. Having on-site laundry in your home means:
    -You can leverage the cycle time to do other things.
    -You can walk away without worrying about any of your clothes getting stolen.
    -You don’t have to drive anywhere.
    -Total Laundry Freedom: You can do laundry on a whim, at any hour; in your skivvies at 2am if that’s what you want.
    -Once you own the machine, cost per load plummets.

    According to the US Dept of Energy, the average household does 400 loads per year, and this costs about $150 (combined) with an average electric washer/dryer.

    Compare that to spending $1 for each load of wash and each dryer load, or $800/year. The average household would then save $650 each year over a laundromat, not counting the added travel time (and cost), the ickiness, and the inconvenience of laundromats.

    It isn’t hard to see why frugal people who can have their own laundry machines, often choose to do so. Those savings are significant.

    However, as Brittany points out, the beauty of the Internet Age is that we all have access to these energy statistics and can do a cost/benefit for ourselves to see if it’s still a benefit for our own situation.

  46. Amanda says:

    I found a different home made laundry detergent recipe. One cup borax, one cup washing soda, one bar of soap or 1/2 bar of Fels-Naptha (been bought out by Dial and I’m very unhappy w/it) grated (takes 15 min or less). I keep it dry. I don’t have room for a gooey mess. 1 T per load.

    I must say I have also used a recipe for homemade dishwash detergent. It’s BETTER than any I’ve used before! 1/2 cup borax, 1/2 cup washing soda, 1/2 cup kosher salt, 3 oz Crystal Light Lemon. Use 1 T. Vinegar in the rinse agent area.

    Didn’t know that about the shaking clothes. Knew all the other tips. Thanks!

    Consider the amount of time you eat up doing laundry at the laundromat. I did that gig for several years. For one person that was about twice a month and probably added up to $100 based on the value of my job at the time. I can get so much done around the house, or have the washer/dryer running while I’m aslsep that I’m sure it saves time. Considering the money alone you’d pay for them in a year.

  47. John S says:

    @eva #11, Renting does not always condemn you to a laundromat. I bought a washer/dryer back when I rented. I bought a used pair from a newspaper ad, used them for 1 year, and sold them at a very small loss the following year when I moved out. It was well worth it.

    You could also look into hooking a washing machine up to your kitchen sink, and use it as spare counter space when you aren’t doing laundry. You could dry the clothes on temporary lines strung up in the kitchen or bathroom.

    Granted, if your rental property absolutely can not accommodate any sort of a washer/dryer, then hey, that’s a value judgement you need to make when choosing your home. The beauty of renting is, it is temporary, so, if you’ve discovered that this is important to you, now you know. Bear it in mind next time you go apartment hunting.

    However, Trent’s advice regarding making your own detergent, using vinegar as softener, and hanging your clothes instead of using the laundromat’s dryer, can all still benefit you as a laundromat-going renter.

    Either way, I don’t think Trent is deliberately targeting homeowners and snubbing renters with his laundry advice. Not every bullet point in every article will be relevant to everyone’s situation. Agreed?

  48. Brittany says:

    Man, I must have always had the world’s greatest laundromat situations. Every laundromat for the past five years was walking distance, never more than $1 a load (and I was irriated that my laundromat recently raised their price from 80 cents!), never anything stolen. I tend to go home while my clothes are washing and drying, so the time cost is negiligible. (I had one apartment for a summer where this wasn’t fesible,and we tended to just barbeque in a nearby park while it was washing.)

  49. marshall says:

    I wonder about HE front load washers. Is it okay to use vinager in the softner despenser.

  50. Great stufff–especilly the one about shaking out your clothes, and checking the external vent.

    Also, I picked up a few good tips from the comments.

    I’d also add–if you buy your detergent–buy the cheap stuff! For all the others, it seems to me that you’re just paying extra for the “brand” name.

    Regarding the issues of buying a washer/dryer versus going to the laundromat, I think they are forgetting to factor in gas and wear and tear on your car for trips there, and also, the amount of time saved.

    In my life, time is most definitely money. I’ss take the time saved over theinvestment into a washer/dryer any day of the week!

  51. deRuiter says:

    Is it synthetic fiber clothing which mostly suffers from static cling? An umbrella type outdoor clothes drier can be fitted to be taken down after use if space for outdoor play is at a premium. Nothing smells as good as sun dried clothing! Hanging wet and taking down dried clothing gives you exercise so you don’t need to join a gym. John S.#37 makes wonderful points about the benefits of owning your own washing machines. If you have one of those systems which charges you LESS for electric, you can save money by doing the laundry at night. Your own washer makes it easy and fast to do laundry, saves commuting, time, and you pop the clothes in and out when you are in the midst of other projects, no wasted time.

  52. Bryan M. says:

    I have a friend who recently started using “dryer balls,” rubberized balls that seem to help clothes dry faster (like denims and towels and such, which usually take longer to dry). Just a thought. I haven’t studied it to see if they work, but the few times I’ve used them at their house, the balls (which are available commercially or you can make your own) seem to help.

  53. 8sml says:

    Great tips, and many of them are useful for renters, but primarily if you have a washer and/or dryer in your apartment. However, when I used to use a laundromat, I always brought my clothes home wet and hung them up there to save money.

    We have been using Trent’s homemade detergent for a couple years now and love it. No more staring blankly at the grocery store shelves trying to figure out which one to buy while being bombarded by all the “pick me!” colours; no more carrying heavy detergent home from the store; no more wondering what all those weird ingredients in the detergent are for. And it’s fun to make. We divide the large batch into several milk jugs, which are easier to store than the large bucket (plus we use the large bucket to store other things when not making detergent).

    We line dry our clothes inside (our dryer is where we keep our paper recycling) but I wish I could do so outside. The backyard of our apartment building is a parking lot and while I think a clothes drying area would be a better use for it, I think most of the building would disagree :-)

  54. Jane says:

    A washer and dryer is something that I think you can buy successfully used. When we married almost five years ago we couldn’t afford a new set, so we went to a used appliance store. At first, I was skeptical, but we ended up finding a great Kenmore set for $300 that would have cost way more than we could afford new. The store gave us a 6 month warranty, which made me feel more secure. Basically I think this store bought or removed for people units that had previously been broken and repaired them, or they bought perfectly good sets off of people that were moving. I think a good set can last decades, and ultimately it was a better idea for us with a limited budget to buy a nicer, quality set used than to buy the cheapest set at Home Depot. Five years later they are still going strong. Now that we have more money, we had looked into upgrading to some front loaders but were turned off by the high price. I’m also so happy with my used set that I see no reason to upgrade now. And we are now a family of four that does TONS of laundry (including cloth diapers).

  55. Geoff Hart says:

    Trent noted “Remove obstructions from the external dryer vent…”

    This is also important because lint builds up in the dryer vent, and is responsible for many serious house fires every year. So you should make lint removal part of your annual maintenance schedule. For that matter, consider doing this every 6 months or even more frequently until you learn how rapidly lint accumulates; this will depend on how many loads you do per week and the type of fabrics you’re drying.

    Better still, use a rigid, smooth-surfaced metal vent tube instead of one of those plastic accordion things. These accumulate far less lint. You’ll still need to clean them periodically, but they’re less likely to cause disastrous fires. They may also improve airflow, making your dryer more efficient.

  56. AngelSong says:

    When you dry clothes using a dryer, toss in one or more clean, dry towel(s) and it will shorten the drying time by up to half. Add more towels with heavy items like jeans.

  57. Katharine says:

    wow I can’t believe no one has mentioned dryer balls!
    Dryer balls (which were marketed on tv) help break up clumps of clothes in the dryer helping to make sure all of the clothes have maximum accessibility to the heat. Also they naturally soften clothes by the hitting action. 2 are good, 4 is better.
    Simple tennis balls work too!

    Re: white vinegar – I have used this for years. You can add it to the last rinse cycle and I have never had a smell later.
    As for buying your own washer/dryer – I agree that the cheapest one may not last long but a decent quality washer/dryer set will last for 10+ years. Sure *today* its only $1 where you are to wash clothes (around here its $3 total minimum to wash and dry) but one day that will go up. Add in the time vs money argument and I much rather save my time for things like playing with my son rather than drive to the laundry mat during the day (even though there are 24 hour ones I wouldn’t be there at night!). Also I just set up the wash at night typically so while I’m sleeping my clothes are cleaning.

    For those that said cold water doesn’t get their clothes clean – you are likely overstuffing your washing machine. There is no way cold water temperature doesn’t get clothes clean.

  58. DeeBee says:

    Just as an FYI, this year some states are giving energy rebates for upgrades to energy-star related appliances. I live in Philadelphia and my energy supplier PECO is offering rebates for appliances purchased after July 1, 2010. Because my refrigerator and my clothes washer are 12+ years old and starting to have problems, I am going to replace them. I am going to take advantage of this program’s discounts and combine the savings with local sales/free shipping offers. If you are thinking of replacing an appliance, this may be the year to do so. Check with your local electricity and gas supplier.

  59. Nancy says:

    Liked the idea of choosing the shortest cycle–I hadn’t really thought about that. I hang most of clothes outside in the summer on an umbrella clothesline. In the winter, the fold-up wooden racks work well, too.

    Couple of questions–
    Do you just put the vinegar for softening in with the soap at the beginning?

    and,

    Has anyone tried the soap nuts that are starting to become popular in natural stores? I’ve tried them, but I’m not 100% sold on them–can’t tell if clothes are getting clean, or if I’m just used to the fragrance from regular detergent.

  60. Michelle says:

    I use homemade powder detergent and a drying rack. To help speed up drying time, after the wash is completed I run the machine thru an additional spin cycle. Even though I use the extended spin initially, I have found that running another spin does make a difference for me.
    Also, a tip for those drying towels in a dryer, it is important to remember to not use a softener sheet as that will build up on towels and reduce their ability to absorb.
    Have a wonderful day!

  61. Michele says:

    to #35 Michelle…yes, and to me and my husband, it’s not a good smell- white vinegar in the laundry about 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup and it still smells very strong even after line drying. I did not notice any difference as a softener either. I can’t even use it to clean with- I would add 1/4 cup to 2 cups of water and put it in a spray bottle for cleaning and it smelled so strong that 8 hours later we could still smell it. But I also have to use unscented lotions, deodorant, and other cleaning supplies because I’m so sensitive to smells. Perfume of any kind and cigarette smoke, the smell of chewing gum or exhaust will bring on a migraine.

  62. rosa rugosa says:

    I made a batch of the the homemade laundry detergent, and I have no complaints so far. We’ve been using it for about a month. We bottled it in various containers including some empty liquor bottles we had after a party. I got a kick out of laundry detergent in vodka bottles:)
    I’ve also been cutting dryer sheets in half for several months now and I don’t notice any difference. Like other posters, I use the dryer sheets primarily to control static, and I wonder if vinegar helps with this at all? I love the idea of saving money on basic household items so we can have more money for the “fun” stuff. I don’t consider myself extremely frugal, but the detergent was quite easy to make and cutting the dryer sheets takes 30 seconds.

  63. ejw says:

    I’m with Jane on the buying washer/dryers used. We’ve bought probably 3-4 used washer/dryers (depending on which one died)in the last 15 years for like $100 a piece. I think the last one lasted at least 5 years if not more. I’m limping my dryer along as I speak (have to know the trick to setting the timer and turning it on, not worth a repair!) They don’t always look pristine or match each other…but my laundry room is a horror anyway! I’d like to upgrade to front loaders, but mostly for environmental reasons.

    And to those who buy dry clean only clothing…I’ve found that if there is any polyester or nylon in a garment with say rayon, or whatever that does need to be dry cleaned because it will shrink or lose its shape, it works just fine in the washer/dryer. The nylon/polyester makes the garment keep its shape and not shrink. I’ve also found that silk is a very durable fabric and doesn’t necessarily need to be dry cleaned. I throw silk shirts in the washer/dryer and they come out fine, just need a little pressing. The only time I’m careful is when there is beading or decorative stuff…which I usually don’t buy anyway.

  64. Kathy says:

    @Matt (#34)–Plenty of people leave the laundromat while their clothes are washing and/or drying. It’s also a good time to get things done that you can bring with you (i.e. balance your checkbook, read a book, plan your meals for the week). You don’t have to sit there and stare at the wall. Most laundromats have attendants on duty to watch what is going on. I have never had an article of clothing stolen from a laundromat. The one we sometimes go to even has Wi-Fi. You can bring your laptop with you and work on whatever. It’s up to you to choose how you wish to spend that time.

    I used to make the laundry soap, but I no longer have the time or energy or will to make it. When I made the soap, I found that Fels Naptha worked better than regular bar soap. We do use vinegar as fabric softener and we don’t use dryer sheets.

  65. Shannon says:

    Due to time constraints, I stopped reading after comment 20. However, I’ve read that washing machines all have trace amounts of e coli and feces in them, but enough to get you sick if you were to come in contact and the right circumstances are in play (bad immune system, open cut, whatever.) This is especially true for washing cloth diapers and handkerchiefs.
    A professor at Arizona State recommends the following:
    * Wash your hands after handling wet laundry
    * Give your washing machine a “mouthwash” by running bleach though it before using
    * Carry antibacterial gel to sanitize your hands
    * Sort and fold your clothes in a sanitary area at home
    * Use a bleach-based cleaner on your laundry counter surfaces before folding clean clothes
    * Use hot water and bleach whenever possible (but “you don’t necessarily have to disinfect the world,” says Gerba)
    http://www.sciencentral.com/articles/view.php3?type=article&article_id=218391156

  66. spay&neuter says:

    when i lived in an apartment i strung a clothesline across my balcony and/or i hung everything on plastic hangers and hung them across the shower rod-Sears, the only maker i am aware of, makes a washer with “Suds Saver”-this type of washer would require having a sink or garbage can for the sudsy water to drain into-save the water from a load of towels or sheets and reuse it for dirtier laundry-this washer does not reuse the rinse water-my washer is 16 years old and has yet to require any maintenance-when i need to replace it, i will buy a european type washer-europe is ahead of the USA in conservation-their washers use less water and the clothes are nearly dry when the cycles are finished; few europeans own dryers as water and electricity are much higher-also i have found spot treating and letting a load soak overnight works well in helping remove stains

  67. Sheila says:

    I concur about cleaning out the dryer vent. When I realized it was taking an hour to dry a load of laundry, I called a dryer vent cleaner service (didn’t feel comfortable doing it myself) that cleaned out the vent, got on the roof and fixed the venting system and was there for over an hour. It was well worth the $ because now it takes about 20 minutes to dry the same load of laundry.

  68. chloe whitman says:

    Love all the ideas & suggestions. I don’t like to spend money on anything that literally goes down the drain. Cheap clothespin hanger that I made: take a button front shirt that is no longer worn for whatever reason. I used one of my boy’s old toddler size. Turn it inside out and stitch the arm holes and bottom closed; removing some length in the process. Turn right side out and insert a hanger; I used an old child’s size. Button all the buttons except a couple, so you can reach in and grab the clothespins. [if you don't have a sewing machine, you can stitch by hand or staple the openings closed.] Also, I purchased a very used washing machine on a garage sale for $3.00. All I did was clean it inside and out. It worked almost five years before needing repair. Our household at the time had three children under five with one in cloth diapers. Before the machine
    quit, I had enough money saved to buy new on sale for $212.00. That was 31 years ago.

  69. Anne says:

    For those who think they don’t have room for a clothesline in the yard: We live in a city and have a small back yard, entirely filled with gardens and a small patio. My husband made a line I can put up and take down as needed. The poles it attaches to are permanent at the edges of the yard. When the line isn’t in use, it hangs in a coil from one pole. On laundry day, I stretch the line across, hang my laundry, let it dry, then take the line down when I’m finished. This has worked out very well. I like not having the line up when it’s not in use. The poles are set up so that the clothesline goes east to west, so clothing on the line doesn’t cast a heavy shadow over the garden.

  70. SLCCOM says:

    The difference in how the clothes turn out with the homemade soap is almost certainly due to the hardness of the water the different people are working with. If it works, it works. If it turns your clothes gray, don’t use it.

    And Trent, please tell me you wash the diapers in hot water!

  71. S says:

    Thanks (John S and others) for the comments regarding renters. We’re hoping to get me pregnant soon, and i’m far too lazy to hand-wash diapers. But we only plan to live in this crappy rental house for three more years at most (maybe less if the mice and squirrels run us out sooner) before we hopefully are able to buy. I like the idea of buying energy-efficient appliances, but for all i know this house will stand vacant again once we move out (it was an eyesore with shattered windows before we moved in, and it’s been fixed up now, but there’s a lot of “For Rent” signs around here), so maybe craigslist is the way to go. Helpful thoughts to ponder.

    I’m not understanding the argument on laundromats and time expenditure; it seems to me to entirely depend on your lifestyle and where you live. When i lived in a small town, i’d go grocery shopping while my clothes washed. I live in an urban area now, not the nicest neighborhood, and no one ever leaves their clothes unattended. I do bring some make-work with me to the laundromat, but for the most part, i could almost always be doing something more pressing. So, while i don’t really want to piss anyone off as i am new to this site, i have to say that this judgment doesn’t make sense to me.

  72. Cheryl says:

    We have a retractable clothesline. It’s round, mounted on our shed. Pulls out to (I think) 30 or 40 feet. It could be attached to a pole opposite. I attach to our RV ladder, then the fence. It’s long enough to dry 2 loads excluding sheets.

    Re: dryer sheets. I cut in half and put in with the wash (since I line dry). It helps cut down on the lint attraction of polyester fabrics.

  73. Sandy Cooper says:

    # 20/Sarah said: “It baffles me that people have so many clothes and always just wear t-shirts and jeans!”

    Sarah…I’m from the states and it baffles me, too. I think my husband has about 70 t-shirts. He brings home new ones all. the. time. He just likes them. I don’t get it.

    Regarding changing clothes, I exercise daily, shower and then put on my clothes for the day. I cannot wear my exercise clothes more than once. So, I easily wear two outfits a day. Sometimes three if I go out somewhere that requires me to dress up a bit.

    My husband does not wear the same thing at work that he does at home (which of course, is a t-shirt :) )

    The older my three children get, the less messy they are and therefore the fewer times they need to change. But when they were babies/toddlers, they always got food all over them, even with a bib. Lots of changes back in those days.

    I can’t get myself to wash all colors together. I find everything gets dingy that way. I really like my whites white and my brights bright.

  74. WendyH says:

    Growing up my mom had some sort of “water saver” that would temporarily store the rinse water and use that for the wash cycle on the next clothes, but I haven’t heard anyone mention that sort of appliance for many years. It was a metal cabinet with a fiberglass tub and metal lid, but I don’t remember how the plumbing went so the washer would pull from there instead of the water line.

  75. travelerkris says:

    Trent I love your posts – but after having just one experience of the red-clothing destroying the white clothing I learned my lesson FAST and now separate whites/lights and darks/colors. It’s MUCH more expensive to have to replace all of your light clothing because something bled color onto a load and now you can’t wear anything that was in that load.

    There is clearly a separation of the city people from the people in small towns or more rural environments. I live in L.A. and have only had one apartment without a laundry – $2.50 per load wash, $2.00 dry at the nearby laundromats, and I wouldn’t leave my clothes there for ten minutes by themselves. :)

  76. John says:

    I don’t know about water savers that save rinse water, but washers did once have available a device that could save wash water. They could let one save and reuse both hot water and detergent. The most common name for this gadget was “suds saver,” although the name varied by company.

    Currently, I use older washers–the current is a 40 year old Kenmore. While they use more water, there is the balancing factor that appliances were better built and made to be reparable. Most affordable front load machines, according one repairman I trust, last 5-10 years. Making a new washer every 5 years also means an environmental hit. Some have suggested that GE Filter Flo–the hugest water hog ever–might actually be better for the environment, given that they could easily last 40 years.

    Long term, I’m thinking of getting a vintage machine with suds saver, which will help wipe out the largest problem with older machines–water use.

    I also don’t use cold water. Cold water may be cheaper, but I value VALUE above mere cents. “Cool” water or warmer will get clothes cleaner and fresher. I use unscented detergent, and when the water is too cold, I can tell–the clothes simply are not as fresh smelling when dried. I’ve been told that detergent has stuff like enzymes that will not properly start working until about 65+ degrees. Cold Water Tide might work OK in my tap-cold, but I figure it also costs more per load.

    Another point: using cold water only will guarantee a build up of residue in hidden parts of the machine. This build up can be a great home for bacteria.

    Finally, a note about vinegar: it is something to be careful with–I’ve heard (but haven’t verified) that vinegar can harm porcelaine washer tubs. Plastic or stainless steel should be OK.

  77. John says:

    Another thought: it’s a good idea to load a washer, but it’s a terrible idea to OVERLOAD a top load machine. Clothes need to be able to move freely. Further, some overloaded machines will, when overloaded, harm clothes.

  78. SZCZEBRZESZYN says:

    In some countries not as rich as ours you can still buy a washer that will reuse water. It requires an empty tub next to it to hoild the water.

    Space for a clothesline: My clothesline is a loop with a pulley at each end so I can load it while standing in on place. The far end of it is high in a tree so that I can barely reach anything on the last quarter of it. The near end is about six and a half feet from the ground. This means that kids will not get hung on the empty line. If it is loaded, of course, it gets in the way. (I put up a similar clothesline for an old lady down the street. She can now stand on the back porch and hang out the wash. Her line is at least 15 feet above ground on both ends.)

    In my house the washer runs practically every day for something or other. In summer we try to dry them outside. For my own stuff, I wait for a sunny day to wash. In winter I hang mine in the furnace room, but the others tend to use the dryer.

  79. Diane says:

    I’ve been using Trent’s laundry soap for a year or so, and I concur with the dinginess issue. My solution is to throw a tablespoon or two of Oxy-clean in with the white and light-colored loads. Even though it costs a bit, I’m still coming out way ahead.
    It’s great to have a friend (or two) who is more frugal than you. A new trick I picked up from such a friend involves dryer sheets. She uses a small hosiery bag and adds half a sheet at a time. Once the bag has a handful of half sheets inside, she only adds another when the bag loses its fragrance. And, yes, we have static issues in our area when we don’t use softener, especially for synthetics like workout wear.

  80. Ajodela says:

    You can find cheap or free washers/dryers if you look around. I found a free washer on Craigslist. The guy said it had a leak, I figured my husband could fix it otherwise we’d take it to the scrapheap. Turns out all that was wrong with it was a clamp had come loose on a hose. Didn’t cost a dime to fix. Plus it is a good old Maytag made in Iowa, before Whirlpool ruined the brand. Nothing electronic on it and easy to fix (we had to replace a couple of belts a few years later). I plan on it to be the last washer I have with any luck.

    Now if only I could find an older, non-electronic stove I’d be set.

  81. WendyH says:

    @ #59 John, you are correct! It’s been a few too many years. Apparently companies stopped making them when they started selling the front loaders.

    Has anyone gone as far as to revise plumbing to store and use the greywater for watering their lawn/landscaping?

  82. Jean says:

    In our old house, we didn’t have a “suds saver” on our washer, but the washer drained into the basement sink. We could just put a bucket in the sink and gather a bucket of the rinse water for watering the small garden we had.

    Let me chime in on those who wonder about line drying and its all too brief mention in Trent’s article. We only line dry linen things like towels, sheets, and blankets– and even just doing that saves a ton on the dryer usage. In my opinion, it also cuts down on the wear of the items. That lint in the lint trap? Its fiber from the items being dried that break down and off from the drying process. Sure, line dried items have some lint too, but nothing like the piles that you end up scooping out of the dryer vents. My kids are still at the phase where clothes are outgrown before any really serious wear occurs, so drying their clothes doesn’t bother me as much. Plus, we can keep up with the sheer volume of clothes from our “gang of four.” Case in point, yesterday, my 3 year old went through 5 outfits in one day with just regular summer play (which to my kids, includes getting muddy, playing in water, playing with soap bubbles, and eating messy fun things like watermelon outside).

  83. Yael Diamond says:

    Thank you for a great post – I learnt a lot of new things. I never ever considered making my own detergent or using vinegar as softener. I tried it on the weekend and got funny looks from my kids but it works. Thank you!

  84. valleycat1 says:

    Re – laundromat or own? I’ve been in both situations. The main value I get from a laundromat is that I can get an entire week’s worth of laundry (or more) done in less than 2 hours, including folding/hanging the items before I leave. At home, the same amount can take the better part of a day. I wouldn’t leave the laundromat, but there are a lot of take-along tasks that could be completed if you don’t like the down-time to read or listen to music or play with the kids. Even now that I have the appliances at home, if I’ve let things pile up I may occasionally go to the ‘mat just to get caught up quickly.

  85. valleycat1 says:

    - hot v cold? I hope you’re washing the diapers in hot – even if you’re using bleach or other germ killers. Also, underwear, sheets, towels, dish & hand cloths should be washed in the hottest possible water – & I’ve read that underwear shouldn’t be mixed in with dish cloths or bath linens due to germ spread.

  86. dottie says:

    Wendy
    I “revised” our plumbing 23 years ago. The greywater waters all our decorative landscaping. Probably cost about $10.00 for material and we have the nicest landscaping in the area.
    Also, our septic system was 36 years old when it had to be replaced.. I am sure it lasted so long because all the clothes water was not being pumped into it.

  87. Larabara says:

    Heavy items such as jeans and towels take up a lot of energy and money to dry in the dryer. By drying them on a line, and then putting them in the dryer for 3 to 5 minutes, it will give the clothes the same dryer-softness without the expense.

  88. John says:

    WendyH (and others interested in thoughts about suds savers)

    Actually, they were probably gone before the move to front loaders. I think I heard that Maytag was the last (and they were also about the last US company to make wringer machines!), and they had the feature until the late 90s. Front load machines were around–indeed, they’ve been around for years (staple in Europe, and even the US has had some like the Westinghouse Laundromat and Bendix)–but the market was still very dominated by top load machines.

  89. Guysmiley00 says:

    #66 valleycat – I think you’re being overly cautious about germs, if you’re concerned that washing underwear in less-than-scalding water is somehow a hygiene hazard. Microbes in general need a moist environment in which to thrive (hence the use of drying and salting to preserve meat), so unless your clothes are constantly wet enough to grow mildew, you’re not going to be spreading microbes about.

    An important maintenance step for dryers when using dryer sheets is to wash the lint trap with soap and an old toothbrush every 6 months or so. Dryer sheets tend to deposit an invisible waxy buildup on the wires of the lint trap that can dramatically reduce airflow. A good way to check for this is to run water over the trap – if the water runs through unimpeded, you’re fine. If it pools, you’ve got wax blocking the flow.

    Personally, I don’t see the reason for using dryer sheets, unless you like the scent. Static cling can be dealt with using a spray bottle of water – a light spritz of water is enough to absorb the stray electric charge responsible for static cling.

  90. Fru-gal Lisa says:

    Here’s how to hang you clothes to dry: go get one of those rods designed for a shower curtain. You know, the kind that you twist to get to the right length and then put up with some pressure. Take a clothes hanger to measure and put it above your bathtub (tub/shower combo works fine) a little more than half a coathanger’s width from the wall. Make sure there’s enough room for your bulkiest garments not to hit the wall, and yes, you want to place the rod OVER the bathtub (toward the center — NOT over the tub’s side). Instead of putting a shower curtain on it, use it like a clothesline: hang your clothes on plastic hangers and let them drip dry above the tub. All the water goes down the drain — no mess! Space your clothes so they’re not touching; the air needs to circulate. You don’t need an outdoor area, or a basement (we don’t have them here in the South anyway) to dry clothes. You just need to move them prior to taking your bath or shower, if you only have one bathroom, but they will probably dry in a couple of hours anyway. If guests come, just close the shower curtain and it won’t look too messy. If you do laundry at night after you shower, the clothes will dry overnight. This will even work in the smallest apartment, with the added advantage of no one will steal your clothes, like they could if you left them in a dryer in the apartment complex’s “clothes care center” (communal laundry room). If you have your own dryer in your unit or house, then five to 10 minutes in the dryer will make the clothes softer and wrinkle free; I do this prior to hanging them.

  91. asrai says:

    If you are having trouble with the homemade detergent, dissolve it in hot water. You only need to run the hot long enough to dissolve it and then turn to cold.

  92. Lee says:

    I’d like to offer a solution that works for me, a single person renter (wouldn’t work for a large family). My apartment has no washer dryer hookups, and I wash most of my clothes at home, using a pressure washer and spin dryer from The Laundry Alternative (just Google it). The entire set up costs around $200, I think. The pressure washer sits on my bathroom sink, and I can wash several garments at a time, using very, very little detergent. Then, I pop them in my spin dryer, which extracts the water, and I just hang all the clothes up in my bathroom, where they dry very quickly! About once a month I haul towels, large bedding items, etc. to the apartment laundry, where I spend about $6-8.

  93. Tom Miller says:

    I found an awesome product called the BioWashBall to save money on laundry detergent and fabric softener. This thing is awesome! The ball is about softball size and it contains minerals and ceramics inside that do the washing naturally for you. It raises the PH level of the water, just like your detergent does, and also uses Far Infrared (FIR) technology and emits negative ions which weaken and break down the adherence of the dirt molecules to the fabric. While I know a lot of this sounds too good to be true, I purchased one at a local green expo and had my wife try it out. She was the biggest skeptic of all, and she now uses it for everything. We started out and tried it on sheets and towels and got great results, so we tried it on our clothes, and are still getting great results. It will last for 1000 loads and costs around $30 bucks! I like it so well, that I purchased another one off of eBay for $24.99 with free shipping! I highly recommend that you Google search it and check it out!

  94. JB says:

    I too throw a clean, dry, flour sack towel (leaves no lint) in with some loads to help speed up the drying–works like a charm. However, with sheets, I have two hard-plastic dryer balls that I toss in and they help speed that up by preventing the sheets from getting tangled up in themselves.

    Trent mentioned that they just toss everything in together to make sure the load is really full. I disagree with that a bit. With kids clothes that get worn out really quickly anyway, I think it’s ok. However,in most cases, I am a big believer in sorting laundry. Something heavy like denim will rub and cause pilling on cotton t-shirts, etc, causing them to fade and show wear faster. Also, I don’t know of any washer that doesn’t either auto-select the water level based on what’s in the tub or that won’t let you choose your own water level, so if you are not washing a large load, you can choose to use less water. I do understand that electricity is being consumed each time too, so I’m not advocating 20 small loads in place of 4 large ones, but I think having to buy clothes/linens more often instead of taking proper care of them in the first place is counter-productive.

    It’s also true that the hardness of your water has a significant impact on how well homemade laundry detergent works. I have tried it in the past and because my water is very hard, I have had to add something like OxyClean or Clorox 2 to all the loads. After a while, I just went back to buying detergent.

  95. Emma says:

    Sorry if it’s rude, but I chuckled a bit at the people saying they just don’t have enough space for a clothes line or drying rack. I live in eastern Europe, and I know exactly one person who has a dryer – everyone has drying racks. They take up only a few square feet of space (mine goes either in my bathtub in winter, balcony in summer) and folds up neatly the rest of the time.

    Although there have been times, once or twice, when I’ve wished for a dryer (mmmm, warm towels!), for the most part I don’t understand why anyone would put their clothes through the torture of drying. I think it fries your clothes, and wears them out faster.

  96. Mary says:

    My boyfriend and I bought a front-load energy-efficient washer. Of course, since that was so expensive (but SO worth it in terms of the water bill), we couldn’t afford a dryer. Yep, we wash our clothes at our apartment, then have to go to the laundromat to dry them. Talk about time sensitive material. Though, some of my clothes (mainly delicates) can be hung, which is great. But towels, sheets, everything else we dry. We use Era HE, because I am allergic to Tide somewhat, and I get eczema in the winter (I live in Wisconsin). Era’s the only one that doesn’t aggravate my skin. I’ll definitely remember to cut the dryer sheets in half, and use less detergent for each load.

    Also the vinegar trick I will try for fabric softener. I also heard baking soda works too. Good tips.

  97. Christie @ Tree Hugging Mom says:

    We also make our own soap. Not only is it cheaper, but you can control the chemicals in it.

    I have found that shaking out the clothes before putting them in the dryer significanlty reduces the drying time and the need to iron as much.

    We also wear pants and jammies multiple times before washing so we don’t have to wash them as often.

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