9 Ways to Make Your Laundry Routine Cheaper and More Effective

Written by |

Unless you wear your clothing only once before discarding it, dirty laundry is just a fact of life!

Check Out These Ways to Save Money on Your Clothes Washing

But your weekly — or daily — laundry routine doesn’t have to break your budget…

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

All you need is bar soap, washing soda, borax and some optional essential oil.

Follow these easy steps and in about 20 minutes you can have a five-gallon bucket full of laundry soap that only cost you six cents per load to make!

make your own laundry detergent
Courtesy of Crystal Collins/NaturalThrifty.com

Use the Correct Amount of Detergent

Ultimately, you won’t save as much money by making your own detergent if you overuse it!

So no matter whether you use the homemade or the store-bought stuff, you want to be sure you use only the recommended amount.

cap of laundry detergent bottle

For liquid detergent that you buy at the store, you’ll find your cap has marks on the inside so you don’t overfill it.

You may need a magnifying glass to see the marks, but they’re there!

Put the Detergent in the Machine Correctly

At my home, we recently switched from an old agitator-style washing machine to an HE machine that does not have an agitator.


Let me just say this: We really miss that agitator! Machines with agitators beat the soap into a heavy froth — just like you’d see in a front-loading laundromat machine.

However, that’s not the case with the newfangled agitator-less HE machines.

And that’s not the only difference between the two styles of machines. Another difference is how you put the detergent in…

washing machine tub in HE machine

With our old machine, you poured your laundry detergent right into the main basin.

But with the new HE machines, there may be another compartment where you’re supposed to put your detergent.

Check your owner’s manual to see where yours is located — and don’t assume you automatically know how to work your washing machine if you’re upgrading to a new unit!

Don’t Fall for Buying Fake Laundry Detergent

As crazy as this sounds, some criminals actually counterfeit laundry detergent! Tide and Gain are among the most commonly counterfeited brands, according to reports.

But you can’t tell by looking at the label if what you’re buying is fake. The real clue is the size.

The fake stuff comes in five- or six-gallon buckets and typically sells for about $25. Those buckets sizes are not used by manufacturer Proctor & Gamble, so that’s the real clue.


Choose Your Water Temperature Wisely

We’re all conditioned to think we need scalding hot water to clean our clothes. But that’s not the case with the new HE machines.

Between 60 and 65 degrees is the optimal temperature to wash clothes in, according to Consumer Reports.

“Detergents are formulated with enzymes that kick into action even at 60 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Pat Slaven, a chemical engineer who has worked as a detergent tester for the magazine for 10 years. 

Once the water temperature reaches above 75 degrees, detergents becomes less effective, and the heat can actually help stains set into the clothing. Hotter water can also damage some fabrics and colors.

Here’s When You Should You Use Hot Water

The best use case for hot water is when you need to sanitize clothing or towels after being sick. In that case, regular hot water won’t be hot enough, according to Consumer Reports.

What you should do instead is choose the sanitizing cycle if your washer has one. Washers with this setting use a built-in heater to turn up the heat above and beyond the temperature that it comes out of your pipes.

That added temperature will kill whatever pathogens may be lurking on your clothes.

By the way, you can also achieve the same pathogen-killing effect by ironing your clothes, according to Consumer Reports.

Clean Your Lint Trap Each and Every Time

Your dryer has a lint trap. Make sure you clean it after every load before you fire up a new load of clothes to dry.

A dirty lint trap means your machine has to work harder to dry your clothes, thereby costing you more money.


lint trap in drying machine

Untangle Twisted Clothing Before Drying

Towels in particular tend to get all tangled and twisted as they spin around in your washing machine.

Untangling them before you load them into the dryer will help the heat get to them quicker, thereby reducing overall drying time.

Same thing with socks; don’t let them get all balled up when they’re ready to be dried. Otherwise you could be left with a couple of socks that don’t dry all the way through.

Use the Damp Dry Setting

damp dry setting on washing machine

Speaking of clothes not drying all the way…

If you want to really cut down on your electric bill, consider using the damp dry setting on your drying machine.

It will run for about 20 minutes and remove a lot of the moisture from your clothes — though they will still be slightly wet, as the name suggests.

Just be sure you have a clothing line, clothing rack or just some access to some sunlight to get your clothes fully dry!