30 Ways to Shave the Cost of Laundry

7. Wash all you can in cold water

Laundry machines are among the biggest energy hogs in a home. The EPA urges washing laundry in cold water to save energy: “Hot water heating accounts for about 90 percent of the energy your machine uses to wash clothes.” The average household saves about $40 a year using cold water to wash, it says.

If your home’s water is “hard,” you may find that you require warmer water.

8. In a pinch, wash laundry in baking soda

If you are out of detergent, substitute a cup of baking soda. “Your clothing will be cleaner than you imagine with the action of the baking soda, water and agitation from the washer,” writes Mary Marlowe Leverette at About.com. She links to instructions for making your own laundry soap in powdered and tablet form as well as liquid. (Money Talks News’ Donna Freedman has 84 other great uses for baking soda.)

9. Hang a clothesline

You’ll save $100 a year in electricity ($40, if you use a gas dryer) by hanging clothes to dry instead of using an electric dryer, we wrote a while back, quoting the National Resources Defense Council.

10. Wash full loads

Laundering is expensive because the machines require lots of energy. Cut your costs on energy by doing laundry only when you have a full load. Choose the correct water level and load size on your machines’ controls.

11. But don’t overload

Stuffing a washer or dryer too full stops your machines from working efficiently. Read your product manual for guidance on optimal loads. In general, if the clothes feel crowded you can be sure they won’t have the space they need to tumble or agitate well. They won’t get clean enough and fabrics can wear from rubbing against each other.

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