1. Use less product
Most of us are using way more detergent and/or fabric softener than we need to, and this is especially true if you have an HE machine. Even if you’re buying the cheap stuff, reducing the amount you use can save you loads (see what I did there) of money, and may actually keep your clothes cleaner if you’ve been using too much and it isn’t rinsing out of your clothes properly. I figure out what the right amount is for me to use and draw a line on the cap with a permanent marker, so I know not to use more than that. I sometimes end up using only half of what the detergent manufacturer recommends.
2. Wash in cold
I know. Stay with me here. Did you know that 75% of the cost of running your washing machine is in heating up the water? And in fact, using too much warm water can cause needless wear on your clothes. I switched to cold water years ago and have never noticed a difference in the cleanliness of the laundry. I just make sure to use a liquid detergent (powders may not dissolve well in cold water) and save that warm water for whites, towels, and heavily soiled clothes.
3. Stop sorting lights from darks
It has been YEARS since I’ve done this and never once have I damaged an article of clothing. Instead of sorting by color, I sort by weight or size for maximum clean. Think about it: if you have t-shirts, jeans, a coat, a couple towels, underwear, and socks all in one load, the bulkier items are going to hog space, water, and detergent. Washing similar things together ensures that everything in the load gets a pretty even shot at being clean. I typically sort into towels, pants (jeans), cleaning rags, husband’s work clothes, shirts, and socks & undies. And I even go one step further into not sorting my kids’ clothes at all. They all go in at once. I’ve never once ruined anyone’s life, or even their clothes, and it has saved me a lot of headaches.
4. Stay away from dry clean only fabrics
This saves you not only a dry cleaning bill, but lots of extra time in having to deal with “special” items. If you can’t avoid dry clean only, try spot cleaning when you can, or an at-home dry cleaning kit for the small stains. Keeping with easy to wash fabrics a eliminates a lot of headache and wasted money.
5. Wash less often
If you’re in the habit of throwing things in the laundry hamper as soon as you’re done with them, time to reevaluate. Towels can be used multiple times before being washed. Consider wearing pajamas (especially for kids) at least 2 nights before washing. Many manufacturers and designers of blue jeans recommend washing your jeans as little as possible, if at all. You may not even need to wash your shirts as often if you’re wearing an undershirt or cami underneath them. Just giving things a second thought before they go in the laundry may save you a load here and there.
6. Recruit help
If there are multiple people in your family, I have good news for you: they can help with laundry too! Come up with a laundry system that’s easy for everyone to be a part of. Everyone in my house puts away their own clothes. It’s pretty painless once you get over yourself, and it only takes minutes a week. My husband typically washes his own work clothes and will throw in a load whenever needed. Our 8-year-old knows how to wash his own clothes, and prefers to because he thinks it’s fun! Our 4-year-old isn’t quite ready to be let loose yet, but he does help. Laundry is one of the earliest chores kids can help with. I start them with getting to help put wet clothes in the dryer and pushing start, and gradually add in more things as time goes on.
7. Hang it out to dry
I know this one isn’t the most feasible for everyone, but nothing smells better than fresh laundry that’s come in off the line. And you’ll save the energy your dryer would be using.
8. Deal with stains right away
The longer you leave a stain or spill before you wash it, the more time it has to set in permanently. Whatever your method for removing stains, go ahead and treat it before putting it with the rest of the dirty laundry.
9. Take those clothes out of the washer right away
This one is easier said than done. We’ve all forgotten a load to come back later to that super fun mildew stench. If you have trouble remembering, set a reminder on your phone. I hack this by working it into my routine so it’s something I do every day. I always throw a load of laundry in to wash in the morning before I take my kids to school, and by the time I’m back home the cycle is done, so the first thing I do when I walk through the door (my laundry “hallway” is right at the entrance) is switch the load to the dryer or quickly hang it on the clothesline. I’m not saying there’s never a forgotten load in our house, but it happens a lot less than it used to.
10 Clean your appliances
You should always, always clean the lint trap on you dryer before every use because it’s a fire hazard. But it’s a good idea to clean your washing machine a couple times a year (or more if needed) to get rid of any built-up grime and keep it smelling fresh.
Do you have any laundry hacks that make your life easier? Let me know in the comments! I’m always up for learning something new!