Your wallet and your washing machine are two things that you may not think about at the same time — unless you’re like me and occasionally leave the former in the latter.
But money expert Clark Howard says you could be throwing money down the drain based on how you wash your clothes.
In this article, I’ll go over some of Clark’s top tips on how to save money when you do your laundry. We’ll also discuss a major way many people are losing money when they wash clothes.
How To Save Money When You Do Laundry
Clark says he and his wife are on opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to how much detergent to use in the washing machine.
“I use minuscule amounts of detergent when I do a load of laundry,” he says. “The reason? Washers that we’ve bought in recent years are ‘H.E.’: high efficiency.”
Clark says that, when you use an H.E. washing machine, “You’re doing yourself, your clothes and your wallet no favors — in fact you’re hurting yourself — when you use too much detergent.”
Here are his steps on saving money when you do your laundry:
- Use a High-Efficiency Washer
- Use High-Efficiency Detergent
- Use a Tiny Amount of Detergent
- Wash in Cold Water
Now let’s go into detail about why each of these steps is beneficial for your wallet and your clothes.
1. Use a High-Efficiency Washing Machine
An H.E. washing machine is designed to operate at a more efficient level by using less water and less detergent while still getting your clothes clean.
According to Consumer Reports (subscription required), “Today’s more efficient washing machines use so much less water than older machines that some consumers wonder whether their washer will get their clothes clean. This is especially true for people who have switched from a traditional agitator top-loader to a high-efficiency top-loader.”
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends high-efficiency appliances with the Energy Star label, which means that they meet or exceed the federal standards for efficiency.
2. Use High-Efficiency Detergent
H.E. detergent is designed specifically for high-efficiency clothes washers. H.E. detergent is formulated to clean clothes without using as much water as standard washing machines.
3. Use a Tiny Amount of H.E. Detergent
“When I do a full load of laundry, I use a teensy-tiny drop of detergent: a shockingly small amount of detergent,” Clark says.
According to Whirlpool, “When using H.E.detergent in a regular washer, you’ll need about 1/4 cup for a normal-sized load. There might be fewer suds, but you’ll still get a good clean.
“For a normal-sized load in a high-efficiency washing machine, the recommended H.E. detergent amount is usually two tablespoons.”
Where Can You Buy H.E. Detergent?
Clark says you can buy H.E. detergent at discount stores and warehouse clubs. Some other places you can buy H.E. detergent include:
4. Use Cold Water
“Wash your clothes in cold water,” Clark says. “That’s going to save you a lot of money too. And your clothes will be clean.”
Heating up the water takes up 90% of the washing machine’s energy use, according to the Energy Star website. That makes cold water the best option to clean your clothes in most circumstances.
If you have a standard washing machine, you can still use H.E. detergent. But if you own an H.E. washing machine, you should use only H.E. detergent.
“And if your clothes aren’t clean, then you’ll have a beef with me,” Clark says, “But what if you do those things and save all that money? Your clothes are clean, then you’re going to be like, ‘Wow, that really works. I’m saving detergent. I’m saving water. I’m saving energy. This is great!’”