Cut the Cost of Doing Laundry

Have you ever noticed how much money you spend on doing your laundry? The cost of doing laundry is one of those household expenses that has gradually increased over the years. One reason we may not notice how much we spend on doing the laundry is because of all the different variables that are added into the final cost, including:

  • The type and the age of the washer and dryer used
  • The average of how many loads of laundry are washed weekly
  • The cost of laundry detergents, fabric softeners, fabric scents, bleach, etc.
  • How much hot or cold water is used
  • The cost of utilities - electricity, gas, and water

According to government and state agencies, the average U.S. household does 350 to 400 loads of laundry each year. The average cost of laundry detergents runs around 21 cents per load, or $80 a year. That amount increases when you include how much money is spent on fabric softeners, bleach, or any other laundry additives. 

When you add in the cost of gas, electricity, and water, the figure jumps up to $325 to over $500 a year to do the laundry, depending on the household. However, these are not fixed amounts. There are basic steps that can immediately lower the costs of doing the laundry.

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10 Things to Do Now to Lower the Cost of Doing Laundry

Towels and laundry detergent
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1) Discontinue using hot water when washing clothes. According to Michael Bluejay, also known as Mr. Electricity, "As much as 90 percent of the energy used by washing clothes goes just to heat the water." 

If the thought of never using hot water leaves you cold, consider adjusting to washing with warm water and a cold rinse, which can on average save you 50 percent of your laundry costs.

2) Use less laundry detergent. Many of us are in the habit of filling the cap and pouring it into the washing machine instead of following the laundry detergent guidelines. Overloading your washing machine with detergent will not get your clothing any cleaner.

3) Make your own laundry detergent. The average homemade laundry detergent will cost an average of 4 cents a load.

4) Avoid doing small loads of laundry, unless you can adjust the settings of your washing machine to accommodate the size. Try to stick to full loads as often as possible.

5) Wash light-weight and heavy-weight items separately. Heavy, bulky items, like towels, jeans, robes, and bed throws tend to absorb water which increases the drying time.

6) Use inexpensive laundry detergents and additives, like a cup of baking soda per load, to help clean heavily soiled items. A cap full vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser will assist odor control and will act as a fabric softener.

7) Avoid over-drying your laundry. If your dryer has a moisture alert, automatically turning off the dryer when the load is dry, use it.

8) Clean the lint trap after drying each load of laundry. Not doing so restricts airflow and will increase the amount of drying time. Excess lint in the lint trap is also a fire hazard.

9) On warm days hang laundry outside to dry. It is free, Eco-friendly, and the sun kills bacteria.

10) Clean clothes only when necessary. Teens sometimes have a problem in this area and will let clothes pile up instead of putting them away. Taking the time to put away clean clothes away will ensure that clean and dirty clothes stay separated.

* Source: The U.S. Department of Energy
** Source: The California Energy Commission

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Tips to Cut the Cost of Laundry Detergents

laundry soap
Laundry Detergant. joshblake / Getty Images
  • To increase your stash of laundry detergent coupons, cut and keep all that you see, even if it is a brand you have never used.
  • Be on the alert when a store like Target offers a coupon for the same item for which you have an additional coupon from the manufacturer. This will allow you to stack your coupons by using both Target's coupon and the manufacturer's coupon for extra savings.
  • Check your Catalina coupons for laundry coupons. Many times when you buy one kind of laundry detergent, you will receive a Catalina for another brand.
  • The Sunday Coupon Preview lists coupons that will be in the Sunday circulars. When you see your laundry detergent listed, you can buy multiple copies of your newspaper and ask friends for their discarded circulars.
  • While shopping, check coupons on tear pads and coupon hang tags that are placed around the necks of detergents.
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How to Find Laundry Detergent Coupons for Specific Brands

Laundry detergent for sale at a supermarket.
James Leynse / Getty Images

If you are looking for coupons to use when purchasing a particular brand of laundry detergent, you will want to register at the manufacturer website (see below) for that brand. By registering you will get on their mailing list, both for email and home mailers, and receive the latest news about coupons, promotions and rebates. You can also write directly to the company and ask for coupons.

Manufacturer Websites and Facebook Pages for Laundry Detergents

Online Resources

Below are popular websites for grocery coupons that sometimes have laundry detergent coupons.

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What About Buying the Cheaper Detergents?

Laundry Detergent
Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Coupons are not the only way to cut the cost of doing laundry. You can also buy some of the less expensive laundry detergents, for example, Windfresh, sold at Sams Club. This type of detergent is fine for many of your laundry needs, and the savings is substantial.

Sears Ultra Plus Powder Laundry Detergent w/ Stain Fighter is another good alternative to more expensive detergents like Tide.

Laundry Detergent Price Comparisons

- WindFresh Laundry Detergent Bucket - 200 Loads - 32.5 lbs. - $14.88

- Tide Cold Water 2X Laundry Detergent Fresh Scent - six-count - 50 oz. - 192 loads - $71.88

- Sears Ultra Plus Powder Laundry Detergent w/ Stain Fighter, 120 Loads - $19.99

More Expensive Brands for Colors

Many analysts believe that the cheaper brands of detergent will break down the colored fabrics faster, leaving them dull and washed out much sooner than the more expensive brands like Tide. To avoid this problem, it is a good idea to keep both the fabric care detergents and the cheaper detergents handy. Use the cheaper brands on items that do not require a lot of care.