How To Save Money On Laundry Day

by heather

Laundry is something that every human being has to do on a weekly basis. It’s actually a chore I don’t mind doing, but I started thinking about how to save money on laundry a few weeks ago.

See, I bought a new kind of laundry detergent at Costco. It’s a gigantic tub of liquid detergent (Kirkland’s Organic Lavender, if you’re wondering) that, predictably, came with a cap much larger than the one I used to use.

I’m sure you can see where this is going. The instructions were to fill up the cap to the “fill line”. But now that I’d invested in such a gigantic tub, I started wondering, why did I need so much now? Could I get away with less? Would my clothes still get as clean?

It seemed as if they would. After all, how do they know how much detergent I need? Who determines the fill line anyway?

That’s what I decided to look at today. The age-old process of laundry and, how to save money doing it.

Save Money By Using Less Detergent

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

One quick search on Google gives us a boon of information on how to save money in the laundry room, and let me start with this wonderful post from NCN at NoCreditNeeded.

What he found was that his laundry cap had a very prominent line that the eye is naturally drawn to (see top arrow). This line, when filled, is a full 1/2 cup of detergent.

Now, the instructions said that for a medium load you needed to fill the cap with only 1/4 cup of detergent (where the red arrow is).

But, NCN had never read the instructions; he’d always just filled up the cap to the prominent line. After all, one look at the cap and it sure seems like that’s where you should be filling it.

But, by doing this he was essentially using double the amount of detergent he needed to which, I’m sure, was exactly what the detergent brand was hoping he’d do. You can read the full post on his laundry experience here.

This article on ABC News discovered the same thing. Brands are coming out with “concentrated” laundry detergent. Smaller bottles, same price, same number of loads. All well and good, right? You simply use less, because now it’s “concentrated”.

But how many people really use less? If you’re not careful, you end up using double what you should, which works in favor of the detergent company.

So, one of the best ways to save money on laundry is to use less detergent.

Read the instructions on your bottle; you might be surprised where the actual “fill line” is versus where, visually, it seems to be.

And, don’t think you have to follow the brand’s recommendations.

Ruralaspirations, at, discovered that she could use dramatically less soap than the brand recommended, and still get clean clothes. How much does she use? 2 tablespoons.

Read her story here, it’s very interesting…

Make Your Own Detergent

If you want to make your own detergent, a great recipe can be found on blog here.

Crystal found that using this recipe cost her 71 cents in ingredients, and yielded enough detergent for 64 loads.

After lugging my gigantic tub of Kirkland’s Organic home, that sounds pretty good…

If You Use Dryer Sheets, Rip Them In Half

Why do we need a full dryer sheet? Will our clothes still smell fresh and be unclingy if we only use half of one?

I don’t use dryer sheets myself, but after reading a few testimonials online from others who have done this the vote seems to be a go on this one. Using half is just as good.

Use Dryer Balls To Cut Drying Time

Have you heard of Dryer Balls?

I’d seen them on TV, of course, but I loathe informercials so I never paid attention.

Well, while researching for this article I kept coming across people who loved these things because they dried their laundry quicker, which saved money on energy. I also came across a number of people who hated them and thought they were a waste of money.

You can see a fairly balanced mix of reviews at here.

Basically, the balls help fluff out your clothes in the dryer, which gets them done faster.

I saw them online from $8-$10, and I know you can get them at Bed Bath and Beyond.

Seems like a good idea so I started to wonder…couldn’t you just use tennis balls? Or, as another woman suggested, a clean shoe?

I don’t really like the shoe idea (because it seems as if it would wear out your clothes, and bang a lot), but the tennis ball idea seems feasible.

Anyway, it might be worth trying, especially before you shuck out $10 for 2 rubber balls.

Let Your Detergent Save You Money

Huh? Let me explain.

Many people buy those expensive pre-treaters like Spray ‘N Wash to prevent stains from setting. But, you don’t have to shell out for this.

By mixing perhaps one full cap of detergent into a spray bottle and filling it up with water you can accomplish the same thing.

Also, I read posts from other people who used their dish soap, diluted with water in a spray bottle, to pre-treat stains.

Mary Ann at has an article with more great tips for saving money on pre-treaters here.

Wash Your Ball Caps

You know those gimmicky ball-cap washers you see on tv? I don’t even know what they’re called, but they’re plastic frames you put your ball caps in so they’ll hold their shape when you wash them.

This is, yet again, another thing you don’t have to spend money on.

Again, Mary Ann at has a great tip for this. She recommends washing your ball caps in the top rack of your dishwasher. They’ll hold their shape and still get clean.

Use Cold Water

This tip might go without saying, but just in case I’m putting it in anyway.

Your washing machine uses the most energy to heat up the water for the wash. You can save money, and save energy, by using cold water for the whole cycle. I’ve been doing this for years and I promise, your clothes will still get just as clean.

Ditch The Store-Bought Fabric Softner

Naomi at had a great idea for fabric softner: use vinegar instead. You can add 1/2 cup of vinegar just like you would softner. It’s cheaper, and better for the environment.

Wash Less Laundry

Now, everyone is going to have some contention with this tip. My belief is that if you wear a pair of jeans one time, they’re not really dirty. In fact, it’s downright embarrassing how long I’ll make my jeans go before tossing them in the wash, and I’m keeping that dirty secret to myself.

The point here is that most people are hyper-obsessed about keeping clean. If they wear a t-shirt for two hours, into the wash it goes.

You can save money, time, and effort simply by relaxing a bit and wearing your clothes a bit more than normal. Obviously things like socks and underwear need to go in. But what about long-sleeved shirts worn over a t-shirt or tank top? Those aren’t really dirty after one wear. Same thing for sweatshirts and hoodies.

Do All Your Laundry On One Day

How does this save you money?

Well, if you do all your laundry on one day you can take advantage of the heat that’s already in the dryer when you transfer loads. Instead of starting with a cold dryer, you’re putting wet clothes into one that’s already warm.

This helps save energy.

Last Word…

I’d love to hear if any of you have some time-saving, cost-cutting tricks for the laundry room. Send them in and I’ll keep adding to this post for everyone to read!

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Sarah November 20, 2008 at 2:07 pm

This post has been used as the basis for

Matt @ SF November 25, 2008 at 8:49 am

You could also call your electric company to identify peak hours for energy consumption. Washers and dryers are among the top consumers of energy in a household, and if you can avoid using them during peak hours, you should (in theory) save a few bucks.

Li Kaydo April 3, 2009 at 11:30 am

Your introduction neglects to mention how buying in bulk saves money and the planet — less packaging produced/consumed over the long term — fewer truckloads of transport — less fuel consumed — reduced emissions — and more. Think again about gigantic tubs. It’s about the environment silly 🙂

Corey November 11, 2009 at 1:57 am

You can save about $100 a year and use much less energy by using a spin dryer such as at
They are about 100 times as energy efficient as a conventional tumble dryer and gentler on your clothes, which will last longer and look better as a result.

Andrea April 11, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Between my boyfriend and I, we have 1 load of laundry per week and go to the laundromat. We spend $1.75 to wash a load, bring it home and hang it to dry. I make my own soap and use vinegar with essential oil as fabric softener. I have never calculated the savings, but it sounds like we must be one of the lowest around. I don’t believe there is such a thing as too much laundry~TOO MANY CLOTHES is more like it. We each have 1 towel and use it all week~it is, afterall, JUST WATER!!!. Many people are obsessed with using a clean towel daily. We wear our clothes more then once; underwear is the only thing we change daily. I’m not sure, but I doubt anyone can beat our deal. Our electric bill runs about $19.00 a month because we do not have a washer or dryer. Oh, did I also mention we WALK to the laundromat where we have actually seen people just DUMP their detergent and fabric softener in, and we saw one gal use an entire bottle of fabric softener between 3 loads..she kept dumping it in throughout the cycle and we have NO idea why.

Amanda January 27, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Great tips! My friend and I have a laundry service and we use quite a few of these. An additional way to cut down drying costs is tossing some tennis balls into the dryer. They cut drying time down by about 25% while fluffing bulky items at the same time.
Philadelphia Laundry Care

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