Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Coming Clean on How I Save Money Doing Laundry

Let’s talk dirty. Let’s talk about spaghetti stains on white blouses, sweat ringed armpits on t-shirts, grass stained knees on pants, ties splattered by coffee, shirt sleeves tinged with ketchup and mustard.

Doing the laundry is a dirty job. I find that when the kids go back to school I do way more loads of laundry. Over the summer I let the kids wear things many more times before I decide an item is finally dirty enough to go in the hamper. I fear the judgment of teachers, kids and other moms so much that I insist their clothing gets dirtier faster September through May than it does June through August.

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Recently Costco had a sale on a new type of laundry detergent I had never tried before (Kirkland’s if you must know). I usually stick with Tide but this was a deal I couldn’t pass up. So I lugged the huge container home and threw in a load of laundry to test it out. I noticed right away that the Kirkland’s cap was much bigger than my old brand and the amount of detergent it suggested I use was much larger. It got me thinking about how much detergent I really needed to get my clothes clean. Could I get away with using less? How do companies determine where the fill line goes on a cap?

Then I started thinking about how much detergent I use in a year. Which naturally made me start thinking about how much electricity I was about to use to dry that same load of laundry. Then I spied my husband’s dress shirts sitting in a pile waiting for me to take them to the dry cleaner. And my brain immediately went off on a tangent about how much money we spend on that every year.

I nearly started having an anxiety attack about how much money I spend every month cleaning dirty clothes. So as is my nature I started wondering about how much money I could save by laundering differently. I turned to Google to get some answers. I’m only telling you the tricks that I’m actually going to try this week. Because believe me I found some crazy suggestions in my search that I have no intention of trying!

When it comes to laundry detergent there are so many brands to choose from. Most promise superior cleaning power, the ability to keep white clothing white and dark clothes from fading. Name brand detergents are pretty costly too.

What I found out was that the powdered versions of laundry detergent generally cost far less than the liquid kind. It also contains fewer chemicals! I know the aversion most people have to using powdered detergent, it can leave a residue on your wash. To combat this problem, add the water and soap before dumping in your dirty clothes. This will allow the powdered detergent to fully dissolve in your washing machine and prevent build-up from forming on your clothes.

You know that feeling when you realize you have run out of something at the worst possible time? Like ketchup on July 4th or milk when cooking Thanksgiving dinner? It sucks. The absolute worst feeling is realizing you don’t have an ingredient you need and having to run to the store at an inopportune time. Well, if this happens to you when doing laundry, know that you don’t have to run to the store to buy more in a hurry. Just turn to your kitchen cabinets. Baking soda and white vinegar work great in the laundry. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer for stinky sports gear, smelly socks and sweat stained undershirts. White vinegar is a great deodorizer too.  It can also act as fabric softener, color brightener, and static cling remover.   Add a quarter cup of baking soda and white vinegar to get soft, bright, clean and fresh clothing. I’ve tried this trick in the past and my clothes have never smelled like vinegar once the clothing is dry.

These two household products are great stain removers as well. You can make a paste from a 50/50 mix of baking soda and water or soak the stain with a mixture of water and white vinegar. As an alternative to using bleach you should add a half cup of lemon juice to the rinse cycle of a load of whites. Supposedly it’s as good as bleach but you don’t have to worry about the unhealthy fumes.

Dryers use a lot of energy and therefore drive up the price of your electric bill every month. Dryers have to work extra hard and extra-long when clothes are still dripping wet from the washing machine. To save money, put clothes through an extra spin cycle in the washer to wring out extra water. If your washing machine has a “high spin” setting, use it. The high-powered spin does a better job of removing excess water from your clothes, cutting down on drying times.

You can also cut down on drying times by sticking a completely dry bath or beach towel in with each new dryer load. The towel will help absorb some of the water, reducing the amount of energy needed to dry your family’s clothes.

We all know that we are supposed to clean the lint filter between every load that goes in the dryer. But you should also be cleaning the hose that comes out the back of your dryer too. Once every six months to a year, vacuum out the lint that build up in the silver tube coming out the back of your dryer. Lint buildup prevents your dryer from operating efficiently, extending dryer times and raising your electric bill.

The dry cleaners will drive up the cost of doing laundry astronomically. Having a garment dry-cleaned can cost you nearly $20 a piece, depending on what it is and where you live. That’s too rich for my blood.  What I’ve learned over the years is that there is a difference between “dry clean” and “dry clean only” clothes. If an item of clothing says “dry clean”, it doesn’t mean you have to take it to the cleaners. It’s really more of a suggestion on the part of the manufacturer. You can hand wash it or machine wash using the gentle cycle. Only when an item of clothing says the words “dry clean only” should you heed their advice. In addition if the garment is made from acetate, rayon, wool, leather, silk, linen or suede, you should send it off to be cleaned professionally. These fabrics don’t work well in water.

If my husband’s button down dress shirts are only lightly wrinkled, smelly or have minor stains I skip the professional help and dry clean them at home. Home dry cleaning kits like Dryel save frequent launderers like me tons of money. The kit comes with a stain remover. Once you’ve treated the stain, place the garment in the zippered dryer bag with the moist towelette they provide and pop it into the dryer for 30 minutes. Hang up the garment immediately afterwards and allow it to “rest” for a few minutes before wearing again.

Cleaning up filth is a dirty job; thankfully it doesn’t have to be an expensive one. There are cheaper home remedies for nearly every modern task we do. Have you tried any of these laundry tricks above? What are your thoughts? Leave me a note in the comments section. I look forward to learning a thing or two from you! In fact, if you are ok with it, I might use your advice in an upcoming article.

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Keeping Money in Your Pocket,

Nancy Patterson


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