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It’s easy to overlook the laundry room when thinking about saving money and living more sustainably.
After all, groceries take up quite a bit of our budgets, so wouldn’t most of the changes happen in the kitchen?
And while that is true, the laundry room has plenty of opportunities for saving money too! Plus it’s a great place to start with more mindful living.
As always, small investments–both in time and money–pay dividends over the years!
1. Find a Great Stain Treatment
It is critical that you find a great stain treatment, because doing so will prolong the life of your clothes.
After all, it’s expensive—and bad for the planet—to keep having to replace clothes simply because you can’t get the stains out!
I personally use and love Fels Naptha, which works great, lasts a long time, and is incredibly cheap.
My other favorite is Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover. This stain remover is sold in a plastic bottle like most, but it has the power to get out set-in grease stains!
Both of these stain removers have saved my clothes countless times either from life as a cleaning rag or from going into the the garbage bin!
2. Use an Old Toothbrush for Stains
This is a little trick my grandma taught me once. I had foolishly left a chapstick in my pocket and the pants not only went through the wash but also through the dryer.
The result was a load of whites with hundreds of pink grease spots all over every piece of clothing.
I still remember my grandma confidently saying she could get them all out and asking if we had any old toothbrushes.
She taught us to spray the stain treatment, stretch the fabric taut with our fingers, and scrub with the old toothbrush.
The result? A load of whites that turned out perfectly white after another trip through the wash!
Just make sure that you put duct tape around the handle of your laundry toothbrushes so that no one gets it mixed up with the bathroom toothbrushes—we learned that one the hard way!
3. Air Dry Your Clothes
Did you know that your dryer is one of the biggest energy users in your house?
Air drying your clothes can save you anywhere from $30-$50 per month, depending on the size of your family and how often you do laundry.
And it can be fairly affordable to get started with air-drying! You don’t need anything fancy to get started.
If you don’t already have a clothesline, you can buy a 100-foot clothesline for under $10. Pick up a few heavy-duty eye hooks from the hardware store for a few dollars each, and you can set up a simple clothesline in your home or outside for around $20-$25.
Not only does air-drying your laundry reduce your energy bill, but it also makes your clothes last longer.
4. Use Wool Dryer Balls
Of course, there are many instances where you may not be able to air-dry your laundry.
Time constraints, cold climates, and small spaces can all make air-drying your laundry year round difficult. I live in a cold climate so I mostly air-dry laundry in the summer and mostly use the dryer in the winter.
When you do use your dryer, though, I highly recommend wool dryer balls! They tumble around with your laundry, increasing air-flow and resulting in a faster drying time—which saves you money on your energy bill!
These wool dryer balls come as cute little critters like penguins and koalas–super fun!
5. Catch the Microplastics Coming from Your Laundry
After reading this tip, you might be confused. What are microplastics? Do they really come from our clothes?
Microplastics are just what you might think. They are tiny pieces of plastic–less than 5 mm in length–that travel through our waterways and eventually make their way to our rivers, lakes, and oceans.
How do they get into the water? Well, many of our clothes are made with synthetic fibers like polyester, rayon, and viscose. All are oil-based, just like plastic, and are made through a similar oil refinery.
When we wash our clothes, these synthetic fibers shed microscopic bits into our water.
If you’re interested in reading more about microplastics, you can read more HERE.
So, if microplastics are so small, is there even a way to combat such water pollution?
Well, one way would be to switch all the fabrics in your home to organic fibers like cotton and hemp. However, most people–myself included!–simply can’t afford to do so.
For years I have been aware of microplastics polluting our water, but felt helpless to stop any of it. However, I recently found out that dryer balls exist to catch microplastics!
This is a one-time investment that would have lasting impact for years—well worth it in my eyes!
6. Find Low-Waste Laundry Detergent
Notice that I recommend finding a low-waste laundry detergent, not a plastic free or eco-friendly laundry detergent.
The truth is, not everyone can afford a plastic-free laundry detergent. If you can, then by all means, go for it!
So, if you can’t afford a plastic free laundry detergent, how can you go low-waste?
Well, one way is by buying your laundry detergent in bulk—that is, buying the largest container you can find.
Another way is by recycling the laundry jugs that you use. Many times recycling them only involves cleaning out the leftover detergent, but many of us don’t take the extra step and they end up in the garbage.
Another way is by recycling your laundry jugs within your home. You can use them to hold and dispense homemade bubble solution, or cut them up and use them for DIY storage containers!
Another way to go low-waste with your laundry detergent is to switch to a powdered detergent that comes in a cardboard container. The cardboard containers still have a thin layer of plastic on the outside, but it is less plastic than the liquid detergents use!
7. Build Fire-Starters with your Dryer Lint
Did you know that you can make simple fire-starters with your dryer lint?
All you need is a little bit of wax, a recycled cardboard egg carton, and of course, your dryer lint!
If you camp or have recreational fires at home, this is a great way to get your fires started. If you don’t, you can still make these for free and then sell them to make a few bucks on the side.
Check out the tutorial over at The Spruce Crafts.
8. Build a Self-Powered Washer
If coin-operated laundry is busting your budget each month, a self-powered washer can save you quite a bit of money!
It’s actually pretty simple, and very cheap to make. All you need is a five gallon bucket, a plunger, and a drill (which you can borrow or rent if you don’t own one!)
The idea is very similar to a top-loading laundry machine, just self-powered.
Simply drill holes in the hard rubber part of a plunger, and cut a hole in the middle of the lid for the 5-gallon bucket. Make sure the hole is big enough for the handle of the plunger to fit through and move freely, but small enough that most of the water will stay in the bucket.
Of course, you’ll need to do smaller loads and line dry your laundry if you’re strictly using a self-powered washer, but in the end it is a great way to do laundry!
This is also a cheap way to do laundry while you’re traveling or camping.
Check out the full tutorial over at Let’s Camp S’More.
Are you interested in making your laundry more frugal and sustainable? Check out the Facebook Group for more inspiration!