Friday, 2 May 2014

Save Money on Laundry

My grandma believed that if you looked after the pennies the pounds would look after themselves.

And when it comes to laundry she was right!

Not convinced?

Well add up your spend per load ... not just detergent but conditioner, stain removers et al & the power for the washing machine, dryer & iron.

Even getting good prices on bulk buys, you can easily spend £1.30 / $2.00 per load.

Then multiply that out per month and year.

And then across your "laundry life".

Do you know what that adds up to? Near enough £20,000 / $30,000.

Crazy, crazy, crazy numbers!

And if you think I am exagerating, here's the breakdown....

ITEM           UK£            US$
Laundry Detergent          £0.24           $0.36
Conditioner          £0.08           $0.12
Washing Machine          £0.43           $0.65
Dryer          £0.30           $0.45
Iron          £0.15           $0.22
Dryer Sheets          £0.08           $0.12
Stain Removers          £0.05           $0.07
Per Wash          £1.31           $1.96
Per Month         £33.00          $49.00
Per Year        £393.00        $588.00
Over Adult Life     £19,650.00    $29,400.00

£0.24 / $0.36 per wash is the recommended retail price for the UK's two biggest detergent brands even if you buy a big 50 wash family pack. A 40 wash bottle of one of the UK's cheaper fabric conditioners costs around £3.40, that's £0.08 /$0.12 per wash.

And if you pay around £4.50/$6.75 per stain removal spray per quarter ... not the cheapest but less than half the price of some of the popular "oxi" brands, and you average 7 washes a week that's another £0.05/$0.07 a wash.

See how it's adding up and that's before you even get onto the power!

If most of your washes are 40c/104f you can easily spend £0.43 /$0.68 per load just on the washing machine - the vast majority of that is the power required to heat the water.

So how on earth do you save money on laundry?

Well these are the tips that are working for me, plus some that other mums swear by ...

Save Money on Laundry

  1. Use Less Detergent ... keep reducing how much detergent you use little by little in every wash and see what you can get away with without reducing results. We have very hard water and grubby kids clothes but only use just over half the recommended amount.  Just that can save £36 / $54 a year - that doesn't sound much but over your "laundry life" it's £1,800 / $2,700!
  2. Always Buy on Sale ... never buy any laundry products that aren't on sale - if you shop around you should be able to get your fave brands for half the recommended price
  3. Experiment With Cheaper Brands ... some cheaper brands are definitely a false economy, you end up using more and they don't get things clean but there are some good ones.  I use an own brand which works out about 7p/11c per wash. Check out all the online reviews you can find before buying and mix it up with a detergent you know works until you're confident in it. 
  4. Make Your Own Detergent ... I haven't tried this yet but it can be a great way to save money whilst still getting a greener product ... Jess @ Practically Functional has a borax free recipe
  5. Use Less Conditioner for a Softer Wash ... ever had that experience where you keep adding more conditioner and the laundry just gets stiffer and crustier? I now use the tiniest drop of conditioner from an enormous 5 litre bottle which I get on sale - it works out about 1p/1.5c per wash. That's a £1,000 / $1,575 saving over your "laundry life".
  6. Use Vinegar Rather than Conditioner ... vinegar is great at softening fabrics particularly towels - again you only need the tiniest amount
  7. Ditch the Expensive Stain Removers ... I confess I've become a bit obsessed about removing stains and have found you can get most out with dish liquid & biological (enzyme based) detergent ... and the trickier ones can be cleaned with either bicarb (baking soda), hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol which are great general cleaners so much more cost effective
  8. Lower the Temperature ... most of the electricity for running the washing machine goes on heating the water and washing at lower temperatures can cut the cost per wash by half which will save you thousands over your "laundry life" ... personally, I do think you have to be careful about washing at lower temperatures - the germs in towels, tea towels and underwear are not killed at lower temperatures
  9. Wash Full Loads ... you use the same amount of electricity to heat the water however much you put in the machine so making sure you do a full load will save money ... most of the time this goes without saying, I can always ... big sigh ... fill the machine but we have a few fiddly things that aren't happy in with the rest of the wash that I am trying to get better at hand washing
  10. But Don't Overload ... unfortunately if you really do shove too much in ... (oh for a bigger drum for my towels!) ... it just won't get clean as it really needs to move around 
  11. Dry Outside ... not possible all year round, and in the winter you need the heating on to dry inside but even if you just cut use of the dryer by half you can save £45 / $68 a year which over your "laundry life" is £2,250 / $3,375 and that's not counting the money you can save on ditching extras like dryer sheets which can be fully of nasty chemicals
  12. Just Don't Iron! ... I am a total convert to the just don't iron school of laundry ... get everything hung up or folded away neatly as soon as it's dry and let the creases drop out ... only iron things when you need them if absolutely essential ... this will save hours a week, not to mention your sanity and thousands over your "laundry life"
So you can see, without lots of effort and without compromising on the quality of your laundry it really is easy to save 50% on your cost per load ... that could be £0.65 / $0.98 a wash. That may not sound a big deal but you know what it's £10,000 / $14,700 over your "laundry life".

I don't know about you but I can think of better things to spend that money on than laundry!!

Grandma was right ... look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.

P.S. Are you struggling to keep on top of the housework?

If you are, you'll love my other easy housework posts and my monthly mailer of super simple tips that help you conquer the housework before it conquers you ....

Follow Mums make lists ...'s board Housework on Pinterest.

More Money Saving Tips

If you've got your own laundry tips do share them below ...


  1. you CAN dry clothes on the clothesline all year! i do! clothes will dry on the coldest days as long as it gets above freezing, and i think it's the best way to save $$ because it reduces electricity costs and reduces wear and tear on your clothes. here we are putting clothes on the line in the winter:

  2. and use soap nuts! You can reuse it 2-3 times and perfectly ecological. Generally on sale in Oxfam shop or online!

  3. I got (back) into the habit of hanging clothes while living in Spain. My son laughs at my rack, but I can fit a load of clothes on there and drying is free...only the son or the cost of the heat I'm running anyway if indoors. I did find you have to have a system to dry clothes this way because if you fall behind you'll end up with damp clothes all over the place.

  4. We use a concentrated liquid detergent that you only need to add a tiny bit to a load--I calculate the detergent costs about .15 cents per load. If you do use a dryer and dryer sheets, you can cut dryer sheet into half or thirds and you can also reuse them. I bought a box of 250 dryer sheets 3.5 years ago and I still have plenty left! We have hard well water but I've never found the need to use fabric softener here. And air drying is good--we're moving soon and won't have a dryer any more so I'll have to go back to the good old line!

  5. Great tips. I will not buy something if it looks like I might have to iron it! When we had to replace our washing machine a few years ago, I got one with eco save options and can wash in tap temp water. It also only uses the amount of water needed for the size of the load (sensor). Once we started using the new machine and using this setting for most loads, our energy bill went down. We've always only used about half the amount of detergent recommended anyways!

    1. Have to confess I skimped on our machine Emily and greatly regret it - the barrel is too small and the "eco" stuff it has a bit rubbish. Next time ... ;-)

  6. I follow these suggestions, including making my own laundry detergent. I love knowing I'm saving money by having such simple (but better!) habits!

  7. Our family of four ditched the washing machine alltogether last year - this June marks 1 year exactly of using The Breathing Mobile Washer. This excellent device not only requires no plumbing or electricity but gives my arms a great workout too. And the clothes are brilliantly clean!


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