Oh, the drudgery of laundry. According to recent data from Procter & Gamble, 1,100 loads are started every second of every day in America. And all that washing and drying isn’t just a time suck, it eats up plenty of money, too. The Consumer Energy Center has found that the clothes dryer uses more electricity than any household appliance except the refrigerator, costing you roughly $1,530 to operate over the course of its 18-year lifetime. But there are ways to make it easier on yourself—and your wallet. Here are some suggestions on how to cut back on the bills while still cleaning your clothes as efficiently as possible.
• Use cold water. Yes, manufacturers recommend hotter temperatures, but the truth is unless your clothes are heavily soiled, cold works just fine and, as Ellis Mass, Director of Brand Communications for LG’s home appliance division, told shelterpop.com, “It lengthens the life of garments and lowers electric bills.” You can also save money by cleaning your clothes without washing!
• Measure the detergent carefully. Don’t just eyeball it. More soap won’t get clothes cleaner; in fact, it will actually leave them dirtier than if you’d used the correct amount. According to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal, soap manufacturers contend that “Detergent ‘overpouring’ creates a high, foamy tide inside the machine, lifting soil and lint above the water level so it isn’t rinsed away. That leaves residue on clothing that fades colors and attracts more dirt.” By the way, it’s generally fine to use less than what the manufacturer recommends—your clothes will still come out clean. If you’re unsure if you’re using too much or too little, lift the lid (or take a peek in the window) and check the water during the rinse cycle. You should see only minimal suds. Make sure you’re following the symbols on your clothing tags–but first, learn their meanings!
• Spin ’em again. From dryertips.com: Put wet clothes—especially heavy ones, like jeans and towels—through an extra spin cycle in the washer to wring as much water from them as possible. This cuts down on drying time.
• Get the lint out. Empty the lint filter before each load so the dryer works more quickly and efficiently. According to ehow.com, you should also wash it every six months. Simply remove it, clean out the lint and and scrub with a toothbrush and warm, soapy water. Allow to dry, then replace.
• Time your loads. Make sure that as the first one finishes drying, you’re ready to transfer the second into the dryer, advises All You magazine. This saves time and money, as the dryer won’t have to heat up again. Do lightweight clothing and gentler cycles first, then follow with heavier pieces when the drum is already hot.
• Add a dry bath towel to the dryer with your wet clothes. It will absorb moisture and cut your drying time. (Just avoid putting a white one in with a dark load, as you could wind up with lint all over everything.)