Mar 19, 2010

Savings in the Laundry Room (Carole)

So, here's another set of easy ideas for saving money -- in your laundry room.

Do you use the right amount of detergent when you do your laundry?  If you use a liquid detergent, it seems obvious to fill up the cap to the top.  Not so.  If you read the side of the bottle, it will tell you to look closely at the cap and you'll see that there are faint lines inside that indicate the amount you should use for a small/medium load and a large load.  These lines are unbelievably hard to see.   I had to feel for them with my fingers so that I could mark the outside of the cap for this photo.  You will notice that both of these lines are significantly below the top of the cap.  By filling your cap to the top for every load, you are using more than double the amount recommended for a small/medium load.  This also means you are not getting your full loads/bottle for your money.  Instead of the advertised 40 loads, you are getting about 20, doubling your cost to wash each load of laundry.

The same is true for those of us who use powdered detergent.  The lines on the scoop in the box are much easier to see, but probably just as ignored by most of us.  Again, filling the scoop up to the top with detergent uses about twice what the manufacturer recommends in their directions on the side of the box.  Congratulations!  By using the right amount, you're suddenly going to be getting twice as many loads of laundry from your detergent purchase.  That could add up to about $100 saved per year -- and that's before coupons.  In addition, if you have a High Efficiency washer, your washer is made to rinse clothes until the soap is gone from the fabrics.  Using too much detergent means your washer will rinse and rinse and rinse to get all that extra soap out . . .  your energy prices will really climb!

For years I have ripped my dryer sheets in half before putting them in the dryer.  This one step saves me 50% on dryer sheets every year.  When I'm feeling REALLY frugal, I rip them into thirds.  Trust me, there's plenty of "stuff" on the half (or 1/3rd) sheet to stop the static in your dryer.  Suddenly your little box lasts twice or three times as long.  The savings just keep on comin'!

Lastly, doing your laundry before noon or after 7:00 PM will significantly reduce your electricity costs.  No kidding!  All electricity does not cost the same.  Check your electrical company website for their Time of Use rules.  Electricity costs a lot more from Noon - 7:00 PM (peak use hours) when everyone in town is using it too.

A Cautionary Tale:  

Frugal and Cheap are different animals.

Last fall, I  bought a dozen bottles of a liquid laundry detergent on sale -- and I had some coupons.  I was so proud of myself!!  Month after month I've delighted in bringing down a new bottle when the old one was empty, knowing how little I had paid for this detergent.  This was not an off-brand or a store brand, but it wasn't one of the big names either.  However, a few weeks ago, I was visiting my parents in Idaho and did some of my laundry while I was there.  My mother had her big box of Tide sitting on the washer, so I used it, of course.   I was amazed (and embarrassed) to see how noticeably whiter my socks came out of the wash.  Hmm.  I'd saved a few dollars and ended up with dingy laundry.  Not a savings, in my book.  Now, I'll watch for sales and coupons and go back to a product that cleans better.  Cheap is getting the best price, no matter what.  Frugal is getting a good product for the best price.  Very different.  

Anyone else have some good laundry ideas?


SeƱora H-B said...

Thanks for sharing all of your frugal tips, ladies! I have learned a lot already.

I've been using concentrated detergent for awhile. It usually costs the same amount, but comes in a smaller bottle. The smaller bottle takes up less space in the trash, so I don't have to use as many trash bags when I throw it out. It's a very small savings, but savings nonetheless.

I don't dry our towels with fabric softener. I just learned that it makes them less absorbent! I have noticed a huge difference since I stopped that. That's a dryer sheet I don't have to use now!

I dry our jeans on a rack. They take forever to dry and I've heard that they last a lot longer this way. I'll take jeans that last longer and one less load in the dryer!

Oh, and I wash everything but underwear on cold. Our electric bill went down a lot.

TheMoncurs said...

Homemade detergent! I bought all the stuff to make it (cheap!) but then before I got the chance my grandma gifted me with her year's supply of detergent that she can't use in her new high efficiency washer. So I'm working way my through that first.

here are the recipes I was going to try:

Miriam said...

I was going to mention home made detergent too! Very, very inexpensive! One thing I've learned with it, though, is not to use it with whites - they do go dingy - so I have a good brand for those (and also use it with my lights about every 3rd week to kind of spark them up), but I can't tell a bit of difference with any of my other batches, works just great. I also line dry my heavy jeans, and I never use dryer sheets.

Lady Susan said...

If you don't go with homemade detergent, you can also use Charlies Soap. You only need a tablespoon, and you get 80 loads out of a relatively inexpensive bag. The best news is that it is completely biodegradable, safe for those with sensitive skin, has no additives, etc.

Most people use way more detergent than they really need, and it rarely washes completely out. This is something I have learned since switching to a HE washer.

I also recommend line drying clothes that you want to last a long time like nice shirts and pants. I have always had to watch pant shrinkage until I started line drying them. Also, my shirts stay nicer looking for longer if I line dry them as well.

Packrat said...

Hint: If your water is icy cold, use the warm setting and adjust the faucets to warm the water slightly. This does just a little more electricity, but the laundry detergent will work better and rinse out easier.

Detergent will work much better in soft water than in hard water.

Also, on liquid laundry products where the directions recommend using an ounce amount - I use a real measuring cup and then cut back a little. I found (like you did) that the caps on the containers have us using way too much of the product.

Packrat said...

PS: Would any of you be willing to share your recipe for homemade laundry detergent?

A good stain remover is 1 part oxygen peroxide mixed with 1 part Dawn dishwashing detergent. Rinses out so much better than the commercial ones. (On dark colors, be sure to test in a hidden spot first.)