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How to Save Money on Laundry

Posted on 8/30/2012 16:00 EST

Laundry day is one of those unavoidable facts of life that costs you time and money and drains resources. According to The Simple Dollar, the cost per load at a laundromat is $3.12 and the cost per load at home is 97 cents (not counting equipment costs). These tallies include travel (to a laundromat), energy (to run the washer and dryer), and water (in a home setting) but exclude the cost of laundry detergent and fabric softener.

Photo by sxc.hu/johnnyberg

These necessary ingredients up the ante. Tide Original costs $15.08 at Amazon for 100 fluid ounces, which theoretically lasts through 64 loads of laundry and adds 23 cents to the cost of each wash. For 240 Bounce Fabric Softener Sheets you'll pay $14.97 at Amazon, or 6 cents a load.

The grand total for each load of laundry: $3.41 at a laundromat and $1.26 at home. Multiply that by the number of loads you do each week, and, well, that's a lot of change.

Here are some tips for wringing out excess costs:

The Scoop on Laundry Detergent.

Laundry detergent and a washing machine go hand in hand. You can't use one without the other. But the way you use laundry detergent determines whether you'll save money or spend more than you need to.

For starters, study the scoop (or cap, if you're using liquid laundry detergent). You'll notice lines on the side of the scoop indicating the amount of laundry detergent needed for loads of different sizes. It's easy to use too much and a 40-load box (or bottle) can quickly shrink to a 15-load box (or bottle). Never mind that using too much laundry detergent stresses your clothes and the washing machine.

Experts, such as Tidy Mom, say you don't need the full amount of laundry detergent to get clothes clean. A fraction of the recommended amounts, and certainly no more than half a scoop for full loads, will get the job done.

You can save money on laundry detergent with store brands and bulk sizes. Check out a warehouse club like Costco or Sam's Club for lower prices.

Washing Machine Tips.

Aside from cutting back on detergent, there are other paths to saving money on laundry. First, don't do small loads. The washing machine uses almost the same amount of energy for small loads as for large loads, so don't waste energy (yours and nature's) and money on a less-than-full load. Take care, though, not to overload the washing machine. Running a load that's too full will stress the machine and cause it to work less efficiently.

Another useful money-saving tip: use cold water for every load. Washing machines use much more electricity to heat up the water and washing with cold water cleans just as well.

Finally, MSN Money says you can cut costs by using the lowest wash cycle possible even for full loads without sacrificing performance. Choose the high spin setting to remove much of the moisture from your washables and cut down on drying time.

Dryer Tips.

The cheapest way to dry a load is to hang everything on a line. This isn't practical for anyone with a small home or when the weather is cold and stormy. But if this is a feasible option, add half a cup of white vinegar to the washing machine so the items dry softer.

When you do opt for a dryer, consider using fabric softener, which reduces static, smells fresh, and, uh, helps soften the washables. Fabric softener in the form of dryer sheets is fairly cheap, and you can lower the cost by cutting the sheets in half.

Photo by sxc.hu/bugdog

Be sure to keep the dryer free of lint. After every load, clean out the lint trap that's usually found near the door at the front of the dryer. MSN Money suggests cleaning the exterior lint filter, which is located on the back of most dryers, every four to six months for even better efficiency.

And finally, avoid over-drying your washables. When they're dry, they're dry -- don't use more energy than necessary.

If you're in the market for a cheap washer and dryer to save yourself trips to the laundromat, check out our cheap washing machines and cheap dryers buying guides for energy-efficient and affordable models.

by Raechel Conover (Google+ Profile)

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