How to Save Money on Laundry
Cleaning Clothes Is an Expensive Proposition
How much does it cost you to do your laundry? It’s difficult to come up with an exact figure, isn’t it? Chances are, the first question that came to your mind was, how much do I spend on laundry detergent and how many loads does it last? Then, too, how can you figure the amount of electricity your washer and dryer use or how much the water costs? What about fabric softener, bleach, and dryer sheets? Consider as well that one of the main sources of wear and tear on your clothes comes from the agitation they receive in the washing machine and the tumbling they get in the dryer. Thus, clothes replacement is one of the hidden costs of cleaning clothes. How can anyone really tell what it costs to clean our clothes?
While the intangibles differ for all of us, we can get a good idea of the major costs of doing the laundry. If you know what your average monthly electric bill is, your washer and dryer account for about 10% of that. To say this another way, your washer uses about the same amount of energy as your refrigerator, which runs constantly. Your dryer uses about 25% more energy than your washer. What about water? On average, about 22% of your water usage goes toward washing your clothes.
Eleven Ways for You to Cut Laundry Costs and Lengthen the Lives of Your Equipment and Clothing
Right away you can see that cleaning our clothes is an expensive proposition. The good news is, we can positively impact the cost of doing laundry in several ways. Here are eleven ways to save money on laundry. The first six deal with washing and the last ten with drying.
1. Wash full loads of laundry. In times past, much was made of separating colored items from white ones. Unless one is using chlorine bleach, however, the new detergent formulae are meant for all types of clothing and separation is not an issue. New washers may sense the amount of water needed but two loads are always going to use more energy than one. Even advanced sensors can’t make up the difference between multiple loads.
2. Wash in cold water. This is actually a double energy saving because it doesn’t pull energy from your water heater. Today’s washers also have internal heaters, which aren’t necessary if you use cold water. Current detergent formulations commence from the notion that most consumers will use cold water. You’ll also save a little wear and tear on your clothing since hot water can shrink and degrade the fabric. So, you’ll also be helping your wardrobe last a little bit longer.
3. Select “HE” (high efficiency) detergents whenever possible. These are just now coming into common availability and they are particularly useful for front-loading washers and high-efficiency top-loaders. Such detergent formulae tend to be low-sudsing, which doesn’t mean they aren’t quite effective when it comes to cleaning and removing stains. If you have a washer with rinse-sensing capabilities and use a higher-suds detergent, the machine will add rinse cycles to get the soap residue out of the clothes.
4. Use the high-spin speed. One of the newer options on today’s washers is an adjustable spin speed. Using the highest possible spin speed gets the greatest amount of water possible out of the clothes before they hit the dryer (which is more expensive to run than the washer).
5. Avoid the sanitary cycle unless you have reason to think your clothes are full of microbes or mites. The sanitary cycle may give us a feeling that our clothes are really clean and virtually sterile. That comforting thought is costly, however, in that it engages both your water heater and the washer’s internal heating mechanism, and is rarely necessary.
6. Regularly use washing machine cleaner tablets. These remove grime and condensation as well as improving the flow of water and preventing mold. Washing machine cleaner tablets can improve the efficiency of the washer in addition to removing any microbes or parasites that might be lurking. Most machines today have a “machine clean” cycle specifically designed for this. Just drop a washing machine cleaner tablet into the tub, close the lid, choose the cleaning cycle, and you’re on your way.
7.When it comes to the dryer, clean the lint screen after every load. This isn’t just to prevent a fire, which is pretty important in itself, but to improve the airflow through the dryer. It makes the dryer more efficient and prolongs its life, which is another money-saving factor. Monthly, take an old toothbrush to the filter to shake loose the smaller particles hiding in the screen. If necessary, run the screen under water to make sure all the lint is washed away. Pro Tip: If there’s still lint, water won’t run through the screen. It will pool, instead, warning you to go back with the brush and clean a little deeper.
8. Wash and dry loads in succession. That way, when one load has dried, the next load is ready to go right into the warm dryer, which then requires less energy to achieve the heat needed to dry the next load. Another virtue of running successive loads is it makes it less likely that a load is forgotten in the washer, which could lead to mildew and rewashing, or in the dryer, which could lead to wrinkles and re-drying.
9. Use dryer balls. The best choice is wool dryer balls as opposed to plastic or rubber balls or dryer sheets. Wool dryer balls work to separate clothes as they are tumbling, which decreases drying time and helps to eliminate static as well. Dryer sheets do not hasten drying and they contain chemicals that can coat the inside of the dryer tub and to which some people have sensitivities.
10.Use your dryer’s moisture sensor if it has one. Many of today’s dryers have a sensor that detects moisture in the clothes while they are tumbling and shuts off the dryer when no moisture is detected. If your machine doesn’t have a sensor, you’ll save more energy by setting shorter drying times and checking the loads when the dryer shuts off. Remember that the high-spin cycle has made your clothes dryer to begin with.
11. Use the low heat setting and the cooldown setting on the dryer. While the dryer may run longer with the low heat setting, it’s actually using less energy. The cooldown setting is energy efficient because it uses the heat it has already built up to finish drying the load.
Clean and Energy Efficient
The past two decades have been a time of technological progress for appliance makers of washers and dryers and also for the makers of detergents and additives. The one aspect of doing laundry that hasn’t kept up with the times is our awareness of how to use the new tech. By becoming aware of these new technological developments and utilizing all the new options on our appliances, as well as using the right washing machine tablet to keep your machine in pristine condition, we will be keeping up with the times and cutting the cost of doing our laundry.