Friday, April 14, 2017

Low Cost Laundry


As a young child, I grew up in a house without a washer or dryer. There was a hand crank old number, that I vaguely recall being used in spring or summer, mostly for bedding that was then line dried. My more crisp memories were though of my mom and sisters, and later me, loading the car with a weeks worth of laundry and driving in town to use the laundromat.Needless to say, clothes were worn multiple times until they truly needed washing and a spot was taken care of swiftly. Hand washing many things was the norm. I can't even fathom how much it cost to keep such a large family in clean clothes. I do have fond memories though of my mom getting time to sit and read one of her Harlequin Romance books, seemed to be shared among the other moms, or reading magazines kept for patrons. A special treat was splitting a candy from the vending machine with my sisters-jackpot if only two of us came and we only had to  split two ways.

When my parents built a new house on a back part of the lot and the old farmhouse was tore down when I was 12, a new to them washer and dryer had a place in the house. We got wasteful with this luxury. Washing a small load of clothes instead of waiting for a full load, running the dryer longer than needed, washing clothes that really didn't need washing became some of our new habits and I struggle with that waste still today. Like other areas, I'm adding laundry and the overall cost to keep us in a decently presentable wardrobe, to my cut the waste mantra. My latest washing machine, three years old and has a load sensor so it only fills as much water as needed for the load. However, a full cycle still needs to go through, so the energy waste is just as high even if I've saved water. 

Dry cleaning is an area we used to spend a small fortune on when DH wore suits to work. Now, he is a Dockers and Polo/Oxford shirt kind of guy. Still, he has a couple suits used for various occasions and I have a few suit jackets that require cleaning. I always make sure I find a coupon for these cleanings. With my new found thrifting, I bought a few items, pants and a skirt, that say Dry Clean only. I'm not completely daft buying a skirt for $2.00, then spending $8.00 every other week getting it cleaned. I found that a very short cycle on gentle and a line dry, stretching at the seems a few times to keep the shape, works perfectly. I need to iron, a job I detest, to get the crisp look, but it takes me only a few minutes. If I do this with four articles of clothing, twice a month, I've saved $64-minus the minimal laundry costs, every month and still have nice clothes. The strategies I will be trying to embrace are below. Do you have any tips?

My Five Strategies to Reduce Laundry Waste

1. Hang up clothes after wearing if still clean
2. Full loads
3. Shortest cycle possible to get the clothes clean
4. Line or hanger dry most items
5. Start Ironing again

15 comments:

  1. My parents never had a washing machine or a tumble dryer either. It was always hand washed or taken to the launderette.
    Since I left home (when I was 18) I've had a twin tub, a ancient hand-me-down top loader and ex-display one we own now we bought 15 years ago! The poor thing has it's work cut out washing all our stock - always on 30 degrees, the coolest and quickest cycle.
    Like you I only wash my outer clothes if they're dirty, most of the time I hang them up to air and they're fine.
    Jon built a dolly (a Victorian style drying rack) which I use when it's too wet to line dry. We were given a tumble drier - it must be 25 years old now and it's only used for bedding if it's raining outside. I hate my laundry to be soft and floppy - sheets and towels have to be stiff and scratchy! x
    PS Sorry to hear about your friend. x

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    1. While a mild winter, I can't get my backyard line 4-5 months due to snow but prefer outdoor drying. No better pleasure than sleeping on line dried sheets.

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  2. Hubby used to wear a suit every day and I know exactly what you mean about drycleaning costs. Now he wears one about 2-3 days a month on business trips. He hangs the suit in the shower on return and steams it. Leave it overnight. We only dryclean his suits every couple of months now. I hate ironing so we were paying to have his dress shirts drycleaned as well. We figured out he likes ironing and I don't mind laundering so now we don't dry clean any shirts. My clothes I only iron about once every 6 months (hate hate hate it and don't think hubby should have to do mine). I also have washed many things that say dry clean only, with no issue. I don't even hand wash them, use the delicate cycle on my washing machine and then hang to dry.

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    1. We used shower steaming a few months back to freshen up as he had multiple days. Worked a charm.The delicate cycle really helps keep clothes in great shape.

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  3. Since becoming more frugal, I've purged my wardrobe of dry-clean only items to save money. It's the recurring maintenance cost that gets expensive. If the care tag says "dry clean" it's usually okay to machine wash on the delicate cycle. If it says "dry clean only" I suggest not even trying to wash it, including hand-washing. I've had to throw out clothing because I tried to wash them, only to ruin them as a result.

    Now that my wardrobe is all machine washable it's so much easier and cheaper. I always use cold water, use mesh lingerie bags to wash delicates, and try not to wash too frequently (except undergarments of course), then I line dry everything. What I do spend a little more money on is detergent to help extend the life of my clothing. I've found that most of the cheap brands strip color from clothing (at least the ones I've tried), especially on black items. Oh, another thing is when I'm preparing food I always try to wear a full apron, this helps a lot!

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    1. I use Extra wash liquid with good results. Since these were bargain items,I'm ok risking and so far so good. Aprons are a help.

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  4. My parents only ever had a wringer/washer that I can remember. We were seven kids plus grandma, plus 2 uncles plus my brother's new wife and child - you get the picture - lots of bodies. But as a kid it was only ever that washer and wringer and then things got hung out to dry (yeah, in England that was great fun). But to this day I wash stuff when it needs but I NEVER use my dryer. That is just way too expensive. I dry my washing either in-house or outside. Weird huh. Anna

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    1. That's as many or more bodies than we had! The farmhouse was small so no spare room to hang clothes.

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  5. TheHub wears suits a couple of times a week. Now that his office has gone more casual it is khakis and polos or button downs. I have found spot cleaning suits works best. I can hang them outside to air out as needed and extend the life between cleanings. Like Cheapchick we send the dress shirts out to be laundered. My theory is that if there are 4 dry cleaners within 1/2 mile of my house it is a message from God that I should not starch and iron them.

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    1. I think signs should be followed. I keeping my eye's open for a low cost steamer. Using one for show choir and so quick.

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  6. We just tried the woolite dry cleaning kit...it worked well for our first batch and should be able to extend day cleans...For under $1 a piece its worth a shot!

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    1. Are those like Dryel? I did use a few times but then tried the delicate wash.

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  7. At one point when I was a child, we had neither a washer or a dryer. There were three children, one in diapers, when I was four-years-old. We came home from the laundry with all the garments and linens we owned, only to find our house burning to the ground. Maybe our lives were saved. Or, maybe we could have saved more and maybe put out the fire.

    Later, we only had a wringer washer. I was sad as I watched my mother, who was pregnant, struggle with it. I helped as I could. From the time I was eight, I took the clothes from the line. When I was ten, I could hang them out.

    Finally, when I left home, she got a new house and washer and dryer. I cried because her life would be better. My father was overbearing and cruel and abusive. Hardship doing laundry was lifted. She had a very bad back problem, so she was in pain most of the time.

    Now, I hang everything outdoors except my clothes. In the spring or in wet or freezing weather, I do use the dryer to keep my allergies from killing me when clothes are covered in oak pollen.

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    1. I'm sorry for your mom. Despite no washer or dryer, I have good memories from those days. I bet you were a blessing to her.

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  8. We go through a lot of dark clothes here every week though the pants are not washed until you warn at least four times. We only do this for Canvas type material and denim. Are usually only use the dryer for towels socks and underwear and everything else is hung to dry. Due to allergies I don't hang any of her clothes outside on the nights I do laundry there's hangers on every door jam of every room that I don't know when we're going until the following evening

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