Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summertime Is Time To Save Money On The Laundry

It’s officially summertime! And when I personally think of summer, I think of how we did things when I was a child. For instance, I think of how I learned to wash and dry clothes from my mother (my father was more of the outdoors maintenance person). Back in those days of limited resources, mom taught us kids how to get the most out of the necessity of having to spend the hardest of earned money to go wash clothes (for us, it meant a trip to the local laundromat to wash our family’s clothes). Part of my mother’s strategy was to use this time of year to save money by hanging clothes out to dry.
To this day, I still use many of her money-saving practices, along with some of my own tricks that I learned along the way. Taking note of the time of year, these are a few of those money-saving tricks that you can use in order to save on doing the laundry:

- Start by using only the warm water cycle (research shows that using 90% of the energy used by the washer is for heating the water used by the washing machine), which works just as well as hot water when washing clothes. Follow by rinsing in cold water. I know it seems counter-intuitive to wash clothes in anything less than hot water, especially whites, but using hot water is more damaging and costly in the long run, causing clothes’ colors to fade quicker and electric bills to rise (besides, you’re going to need to extra money to power the air-conditioner).

- Avoid buying clothes labeled, “dry cleaning only.” Needless to say, doing so can save you a great deal of money, especially if you are in a line of work which requires formal or semi-formal business attire. But for the daring, there are “dry cleaning kits,” which you can purchase at any discount retail store such as K-Mart , Target, and Wal-Mart. I have used these on a couple of occasions, and have had much success with them. For the truly daring, a search of the internet can yield many sites instructing individuals on how to dry clean articles of clothing themselves (write me and I can actually give you the process).

- Avoid washing so often. Unless one is very active, clothes worn for only few hours can be re-worn, especially jeans, which can be worn 2-3 times before washing (needless to say, this doesn’t apply to those loving in warmer climates, or clothes used in exercising).

- Wait until you have enough for a full load, but try to avoid overloading the washer. Overloading the washer doesn’t allow for the agitation process to clean clothes effectively, which could result in the need to rewash…which cost.

- When buying detergents, store brands are just as effective as named-brand detergents. Only in instances cases where you have a particularly delicate item, or one that you wish to preserve should you consider higher-priced brands with a particular function.

- Instead of using costly fabric softeners, try adding a small amount of vinegar to the wash (which reduces static cling and softens the clothes…thank you mom).

- Use this time of year to save money (again, thank you mom) and line-dry your clothes. I personally think naturally air-dried clothes smell so much better, not to mention more cost-effective (again, depending on the area you live in). If you must use a dryer, try to avoid letting the dryer cool between loads (to take advantage of the residual heat. Try to dry like-items together, such as products made of denim, and fold or hand clothes immediately after drying to avoid wrinkles (and the use of irons).

Admittedly, using these items won’t make you a millionaire, but the long-term savings will be put you on the path to taking note of how best to avoid needless spending, especially in these economically lean times.
Thanks mom!

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