Thursday, July 31, 2008

Halving the Laundry?

I said we'd talk about ways to save money on laundry. I'm not sure I'll be telling you anything new, but here's my take on it.

1. The biggest immediate savings you can achieve is by air drying your wash instead of using your dryer. Dryers use more energy than just about any other appliance in your house. Luckily for us, more and more people are hanging out their laundry, reducing the stigma against doing this. You can be bold and let it all hang out there, or, if you're a little shy, keep your unmentionables inside on a smaller line.

2. Use cold water whenever possible. Many people use cold all the time and their laundry gets clean enough. Save all your really stained stuff - dishrags, etc. - for one wash and only use warm water for that one.

3. Use less detergent. Do an experiment - try using half as much detergent in your next wash and see what happens. Play with the amount you use until you find the least amount that works for you.

4. Use cheap detergent. Honestly? The brand I use costs half as much as Tide and it does the job. I found this out when one of my kids started reacting to the more expensive brands. I use a pre-treater for tougher stains and it all gets clean.

5. Look at your utility bills and see if you live in a place where your utility company charges less for off-peak usage. If that's the case, put your wash in an hour before you go to bed and switch it to the dryer at bedtime. If you get up early enough, try to do a second wash in the morning, depending on how your utility company defines their off-peak hours.

6. Do you really want to cut your laundry costs in half? Here's a radical solution - wear clothes twice before washing them. Use your discretion, obviously. I wouldn't wear undies more than once, and if something stinks or is stained - wash it! But we have become a little obsessed as a culture with everything being perfectly clean. And we, and our environment, are paying for that obsession. It's easy enough to train your family to look and sniff their clothes at the end of the day. If you can't tell it's been worn, wear it again! The math is clear: wear clothes twice, do half the wash.

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