Laundry Loot: Tips and Money-Savers

No, I’m not talking about loose change, though that would be nice. I’m talking about smart ways to stretch your laundry dollar, plus some tips I’ve appreciated along the way.Necessity is a good teacher. In our self-employment years, times were lean. I picked the brains of frugal friends and devoured books like The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyzyn. So here are some tips, mostly frugal, for you and please feel free to add more in comments!

Washing savers:

  • unless you have coupons, powdered detergent is much cheaper than liquid per load
  • if you do use liquid detergent, be sure to get the last few ounces out when the bottle is empty by adding some water and shaking the bottle then dumping. You have enough for another load in there!
  • wash clothes using cold water in all cycles, except in the case of dishcloths, washcloths and cloth diapers/underwear which need washed separately in hot/with bleach to kill germs
  • if your water is soft, you can get away with using half the amount of detergent per load (same rule applies to dishwashing detergent in dishwashers…if you have soft water you can use 1 TB with success!)
  • vinegar added during the rinse cycle acts as a fabric softener

Drying savers:

  • Clothes lines are great if you have them…not only for the obvious, but to air out your comforters, curtains and quilts. It keeps them from fading (hang backward side up), plus other wear and tear.(Of course if they’ve been stained, or exposed to sickness, go ahead and wash them but dry them on the line backward side up so the sun doesn’t fade them)
  • Save electricity and put moisture in the air during winter: Get some clothing racks and hang your wet clothes in the bedrooms at night…
  • I halve my dryer sheets getting twice the bang for my buck; it does the job, believe me. I also reuse them twice more with fresh halves before throwing out.
  • Never use both fabric softener and dryer sheets, they do the same jobs. Sometimes though, I forget to add fabric softener to the wash so I’ve been known in a pinch to splash a clean rag or sock with fabric softener and use it for a substitute dryer sheet…ahh the clothes smell good!
  • Clean out your lint trap regularly for maximum efficiency. And once in a while, take it to the sink and clean it with dishwashing soap. You’ll be surprised at how much cleaner it becomes.

Recipe for Home-made Laundry detergent

I got this from The Raising Godly Tomatoes forum and have been keeping it tucked away for a rainy day.

  • 1 cup grated bar soap, Ivory or Zote soap
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 1/2 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda, not baking soda

Grate the soap with the smallest grating holes. Add borax and washing soda. Shake and store in tightly sealed container. May have to shake occasionally. Use 3 TB per load, 1 TB if you have soft water.

Zote soap comes highly recommended, you can find it in the hispanic section of the laundry detergent area. A 14 oz bar is under a dollar!

The nicest thing about using a recipe like the above one, is that you’re eliminating all the chemicals of most of the detergents out there. If anyone in your family has sensitive skin, this might be the ticket. The downside is, depending on who you talk to, *using this homemade detergent day in day out can leave your nice clothes a bit dingy. I’d think it would be great used alternately with store-bought, or to have on hand for lean financial times, or to use exclusively with all your loads of sheets and towels.

How many loads of laundry do you do each week?

*this could be due to hard water issues and not the detergent

UPDATED ON DECEMBER 13, 2007: Wanted to share this wonderful site with you guys…a home made laundry soap recipe similar to the one I shared here, but with a picture tutorial and a money breakdown that shows how much money you save…basically, with this recipe, each load costs you about 1 penny!


January: Get Organized Month

Yes, January is “Get Organized Month”.

I love being organized. I’m all for organization. It makes life so much easier…doesn’t it? Disclaimer: I don’t struggle with organization, I struggle with maintaining the organization!

The NY Times “Saying Yes to Mess” is a feel-good article for those of us that occasionally find ourselves with a case of the “Messies”. Though I did cringe at some of the jabs taken at Type A personalities.

An anti-anticlutter movement is afoot, one that says yes to mess and urges you to embrace your disorder. Studies are piling up that show that messy desks are the vivid signatures of people with creative, limber minds (who reap higher salaries than those with neat “office landscapes”) and that messy closet owners are probably better parents and nicer and cooler than their tidier counterparts. It’s a movement that confirms what you have known, deep down, all along: really neat people are not avatars of the good life; they are humorless and inflexible prigs, and have way too much time on their hands.

Ouch to that last statement.

Yet it does relieve my guilt over the fact that the only closet in my house with any order is the linen/game closet in the hallway.

Here’s a question for you. When you visit friends do you feel more comfortable in a home that is pristine-clean, or one that has the lived-in feel? Do you think any less of your friends whose homes are on the cluttered side? (My answer: No way!)

Amy at Amy’s Humble Musings posted some thoughts a couple weeks back in an article she titled, Obvious Correlations. She said,

“I think you can tell a lot about a lady by how long she takes to get ready, what the inside of her microwave looks like, and if she regifts.”

Interesting.  My microwave isn’t always clean, for instance, but it’s never gross. Does that count? I paint my toenails in the summertime (sandals), and apply makeup before going anywhere…so I guess being presentable to me, means 10-15 minutes in the bathroom.

And what exactly does this tell you about me?

That I take better care of myself than I do my microwave?