According to the EPA, the average American family does 300 loads of laundry a year. While you'll never get back the time you spend sorting, soaking, and folding, it's easy to save a lot of money by making some small changes to your laundry routine.
Here are five money saving tips the experts at Reviewed.com compiled to help you save on your electricity and water bills—and do some favors to your clothes and the environment along the way.
We found out that you could save up to $387 a year with just a few changes.
Wash with cold water—Save $192
As much as 90% of the energy it takes to wash clothes is actually spent on heating water. If you wash clothes on cold—a safe choice for just about any fabric type—you’ll undoubtedly save money over time.
If you’re worried about clothes not getting clean without that high heat, don’t fret. There’s detergent available specifically for cold-water washing. It contains enzymes that are designed to clean clothes regardless of how hot or cold your water is. It costs a bit more than conventional detergent, but the utility savings could balance it out depending on where you live.
Use bigger loads and less detergent—Save $10
It may seem obvious, but washing one full load of laundry is going to save you some money compared to two half loads. Even though today's washers can sense how big a load is and fill with water accordingly, they still use less water to do one big load than two little ones. The average washer we've tested costs around $50 a year to run—so cutting out even 10% of loads can save $5 a year.
Don't overuse detergent, either. In our experience—and we've done thousands of loads of laundry in our labs—a little detergent goes a long way. In fact, using too much detergent can leave white residue on your clothes. Some washers will even use more water automatically to rinse out excess detergent during a wash. We recommend using the lowest dose possible for most loads.
If you're using liquid laundry detergent, it might cost you around 19 cents a load. Cut the amount you use by 10%, and you'll save almost $6 per year.
Sort before you wash—Save your favorite sweater
If you can’t be bothered to split your darks and your lights before you wash, that’s fine—you do you.
But at the very least, try to sift out towels and other heavy garments. Thick cotton towels absorb more water and take longer to dry. And if you’re throwing them in the dryer with t-shirts and lingerie, well… you’re just doing it wrong. The sensor in your washer will keep your clothes tumbling until the last item is dry, which will cause your delicate items to wear out before their time..
If you've ever had a favorite sweater wear out, you know just how valuable that can be.
Line dry—Save $140
Apart from an air conditioner, dryers typically consume more energy than any other appliance in your home. If you’ve got the room (and the patience), consider cutting the dryer out of the process altogether.
Line drying obviously takes more time and space, especially if you’re using indoor drying racks. However, it also uses zero electricity, and it's more gentle on clothes. Plugging some average energy use numbers into this calculator shows that line drying can save up to $140 a year.
It doesn't even have to be sunny outside. Putting line dry clothes in front of a radiator can serve as a low-tech humidifier during the wintertime. If you're short on time, you can also pop clothes in the dryer for five or ten minutes to remove the bulk of moisture, then let them line dry to remove the rest.
Get a new washing machine—Save $45
A modern Energy Star certified washer can save you an extra $45 a year on your water and electricity bills. So if it's time for a new washing machine anyway, you might as well pick a machine that will save you the most money.
Our washing machine ratings take into account cost of operation, so our top-scoring machines are also some of the most efficient.
Our experts almost exclusively recommend front load models. They use less water and are typically gentler on clothes. And these days, the price gap between front load and top load washers is shrinking with each passing year.
If you prefer a top-loading machine, you're not out of luck. Some can be quite efficient—including our top-rated top-loader, the GE GTW680BSJWS.