Ditch the Dryer!

(And Other Frugal Laundry Hacks)

Over the years, I’ve spent a surprising amount of time devising ways to save money on laundry. It’s actually kind of bizarre when you think about it. However, laundry is a chore that gets done really frequently and is definitely costly (it’s the most expensive cleaning task in our house), so I feel like cheap ways to do laundry deserves its own post.

My number one frugal laundry hack is pretty simple: ditch the dryer! Drying your clothes in the dryer costs you extra money both in dryer costs ($2/load at my building) and in increased wear and tear on your clothes. I air dry everything but sheets and towels at our house, and it saves us some big time dough. How, you ask? Well, this is where a gigantic drying rack is your BFF (available at IKEA or garage sales everywhere). By drying my clothes on the rack or hanging them to dry on our shower bar in the bathroom, I save us $2/load or approx. $12/month just in dryer costs. This adds up to $144/year and it doesn’t even include the savings we get by increasing the lifespan of our clothes!

When considering drying rack models, I truly believe bigger is better. A bigger drying rack means you have more room to dry clothes, which makes it actually possible to dry a full load of laundry on that rack. This means you can keep doing large loads of laundry, which also keeps your costs down. I am also here to tell you that, yes, having a humongous drying rack in a tiny space is possible. Please see the pictorial evidence below. This giant 5 foot long drying rack fits into our tiny apartment just fine.

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The only real concern we have with using the drying rack is making sure all of our unmentionables get put away before company comes over. Provided you can be on top of that, you will be ok. It also helps to have a partner who is willing to help you with this when you are on your way home with guests in tow, realize you have laundry out, and text them frantically telling them it’s an unmentionables emergency. I also find that the other area that requires foresight is in how you place your clothes on the rack. Some items, like my sweaters, are best drying flat and therefore take up way more space. So you just need to take that into account when sorting your loads of laundry.

Now the next big frugal laundry hack is to DIY as many of your laundry products as possible (ideally all). We’ll start with the only non-optional laundry product, soap. We actually haven’t made our own laundry soap since we just finished working our way through all the half-empty bottles of laundry soap Jordan’s roommates left at his old place when they  moved out of their shared house almost 2 years ago. Yes, we took it. Free laundry soap is a great score and it doesn’t expire! Now we are working through the soap I had bought before we got all of this free laundry soap. So clearly soap is not a problem at our house. Our clothes are clean! However, once we’re done working our way through the stockpile we want to try making our own, since it seems like it will be way cheaper. I’ve got my eye on this recipe and this one, courtesy of One Good Thing by Jillee (a blog with DIY household tips that actually work!). If any of you have any experience with these, or any other DIY laundry soaps, I would love to hear from you! What worked well? And what didn’t? Any tips or tricks I should be aware of?

You can also DIY pretty much any other laundry product you might need. While I haven’t tried most of them, Jill from One Good Thing by Jillee has a nice roundup of all her homemade laundry products as well as cost comparisons. As you can see, making your own products can literally cost you pennies to the dollar. The only thing she doesn’t mention that I do is using vinegar as fabric softener. I put it in a downy ball and it’s honestly magical. I can’t remember where I saw the idea on the internet, but I’ve been doing it for years and it helps make my clothes very soft. And no, your clothes won’t smell like vinegar (provided you don’t use crazy amounts).

The final frugal laundry hack I have is to re-use items where you can. What does this mean? Well, for starters, only change your bath towels every week. You don’t live in a crazy fancy hotel so you don’t need to change them every day (yes, I know people that literally do this). You should be using your towel when you’ve finished bathing and are CLEAN (if not you have bigger problems than just laundry costs). That means that your towels don’t get dirty right away and can last you a whole week. The other thing you can look at is re-wearing some of your clothes. This doesn’t apply to unmentionables (obviously!) or socks, but things like cardigans, pants, and sometimes even shirts can be re-worn at least 1 or 2 times. This will cut down on the amount of laundry you do and cut down on your costs. This is another area where it helps to have a good partner who will help you with the sniff tests of your clothes!

That’s all I have and now I turn it over to you. What are your best tips and tricks for cutting down on your laundry costs?

 

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11 thoughts on “Ditch the Dryer!

  1. We use a drying rack in the basement since we are not allowed to hang our clothes outside. One of the few unfortunate drawbacks to living in an HOA. But, it still saves us a lot of money and helps our clothes last longer! – Mrs. FE

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        1. I suppose that’s fair. I just hate the idea of someone else telling me what I can and can’t do in my property! It’s why I don’t want to buy a condo, so it makes me unhappy thinking of owning a house and still having that.

          I’m also from Canada where HOAs are much less common, so it’s an idea I’m still adjusting to.

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  2. I find my pants can usually last 1-2 weeks unless I spill something on them. shirts sometimes only a day (in the summer) but 3-5 days in the winter. Basically it doesn’t get washed until it doesn’t look, smell, or feel clean anymore. This applies to towels as well. I usually shake/squeegee the water off me before reaching for the bath towel and it usually goes 2-3 weeks before having any hint of smell since it barely gets wet.

    And I 100% agree about the dryer for the reasons you mentioned, and for one more: dryers are electricity hogs, and until we have a solar/wind/hydro electricity grid instead of coal and natural gas (in Alberta), that means C02 emissions for a task that can be accomplished with no emissions. As a kid I remember that in hot, dry, and windy southern Alberta summers a pair of heavy wet blue jeans could dry in 30 minutes, and most other things in less than 15. Since I don’t have access to an outdoor clothesline in an apartment, I strung out 4 lines with some random string I had around. On one end I tied each string to the curtain-rod at the bedroom window and on the other I attached it to a clothes-hanger. When I brought laundry in, I unwound the string from each hanger and hung them in the closet, across the bedroom. Now I had 4 lines to string clothes on. More than enough for 1 large load of laundry (but not quite enough in the uncommon event of 2 loads). In order to keep the lines separated I ensured 7-8 hangers with clothes were between each clothes-line-hanger to act as spacers. This is necessary since you want a fair amount of tension in the strings in order that they don’t sag down to the floor when you load them with wet clothing. But if you were to hang 4 hangers with high-tension strings on your rack with nothing between, they’ll slide down the rod until they reach their lowest tension and they’ll all be beside each other. Another trick I learned for this, also from physics: load your heaviest clothes at the ends of the strings and lightest in the middle. This significantly reduces sag and ensures that even if your string doesn’t have a lot of tension, your clothes still won’t be touching the floor. My favourite parts of this system (other than the fact it just plain worked) are that it cost 4 hangers and a bunch of string, that the laundry was hanging in the bedroom where I barely spend any awake-time, and that when I was done with the lines, I just unhooked the hangers from the rack, wrapped the string around them, and set them down by the window where the other end was tied. Easy cleanup.

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