With two small kids, we’re always doing laundry at our house. When I was single, I only did laundry once a week and never really thought about the cost per load. But when you start to do it all the time, you see how it really adds up.
For example, a three-litre bottle of brand name detergent can set you back around $16 unless you find it on sale. Brand name dryer sheets cost about $8 a box. If you like to wash your clothes with hot water then you’ll need to pay even more—according to the U.S. Department of Energy, 90 percent of the cost of doing laundry (on a top-loading machine) is heating up the water.
If your life revolves around laundry (which mine does), then it’s worth trying to cut down on how much you spend. The good news is there are some relatively low-maintenance things you can do to help save you money. Here are just a few:
1. Use cold water
Since heating the water accounts for 90 percent of the cost of your load, it’s worth using cold water instead. Of course, it’s not always an option—my two kids aren’t 100 percent potty-trained—but if you’re able to use cold water the majority of the time, then you’ll be saving a lot more.
2. Use a clothes line
Back in the day, you’d find a laundry line in everyone’s backyard (both my grandmas had one). That’s not as common today and people use a dryer instead—a much more expensive way to dry clothes. Now that summer’s here, try hanging your laundry out to dry. You’ll save money and your clothes will smell better too.
3. Use less detergent
I never use as much detergent as what’s recommended on the box or bottle. Instead I use half or even less depending on the size of the load and how dirty the clothes are. Cut down on your detergent use by using your own judgment on how much you really need to get your clothes clean.
4. Use half a dryer sheet (or no dryer sheets)
I’ve always found that a half a dryer sheet is enough to get the job done. In fact, lately I’ve stopped buying them altogether and I haven’t noticed a huge difference in how my clothes feel.
5. Fill your washer
If you can, don’t run your washer until you have a full load to wash. Washing only a few items wastes a lot of energy. But be careful not to overstuff it. Your appliances won’t run well if there is too much in them.
6. Handwash your delicates
Why not try hand-washing bras, blouses and other delicate items? Dry them on the line outside or over the shower rack to cut down on energy use.
7. Consider buying an energy-efficient washing machine
Washing machines with an Energystar rating cuts down on the amount of power you use. Check Industry Canada for more information on how to choose the best energy-efficient washing machine for your household.
8. Make your own detergent
I must admit that I’ve never tried doing this but I am seriously considering this option. By making your own detergent you can save that $16 you’d otherwise be shelling out for a bottle of brand name stuff. I found this handy link with tips on how to make your own laundry soap.
This article originally appeared on Chatelaine.com.