Have you ever found yourself with a couple loads of washing to do but you only have enough supplies to do one of them? I have, and over the years I’ve come up with a few things to get the job done without having to drive to the store for detergent and such. Now, I use these ideas to save money.
When the Spray 'n Wash bottle starts shootin’ blanks, fill it with water to about three inches from it’s top. Fill the rest up with your favorite liquid detergent. Screw back on the trigger spray and gently invert the bottle to mix the detergent and water. After the first time I tried this, I couldn’t tell any difference between the performance of the store bought pre-treater and my homemade concoction.
The Wash Cycle
This one only applies to front load washing machines. Detergent manufacturers make something called ‘high efficiency detergent’ specifically for theses types of washing machines. It is generally less viscous and lower sudsing than the standard stuff. You don’t necessarily need to buy it. Just use your regular liquid detergent, but remember to only use a couple tablespoons or so–about half of what the instructions recommend–and, of course using half as much will save you twice as much. This tip isn’t actually mine; it came from the appliance dealer who sold me my front loader four years ago and an appliance repairman I know confirmed it.
If you use drier sheets, you don’t necessarily need to use a whole one. I rip mine in half, using only a half per load. Sure, if it’s a really large load, I still might use a whole one, but generally speaking, a half’ll do. And one of my sisters swears that you can use drier sheets twice with satisfactory results.
Investments for the Really Cost Conscious
If you’re in the market for a new washer, you might want to consider a front loading machine (also known as a horizontal-axis washer). It will use 1/3 to 2/3 less water than a top loading washer. And although front-loaders are generally more expensive than top-loaders, they’ll cost you less to operate over the life of the appliance. (Note: Consumer Reports rates the cheapest front-loader better than most top-loaders.)
Another very cost effective investment would be to buy a pair of dryer balls. These are bumpy, tennis-ball-sized balls you throw in the dryer instead of dryer sheets. They’re one of those "As Seen On T.V." deals. I bought mine recently for $ 9.99 at Walgreens, but you can find them just about anywhere including Bed, Bath & Beyond and Linens 'n Things. The first time I tried these I purposely dried a very large load of clothes. I’d say they performed about the same as dryer sheets at reducing static cling and increasing softness, however, they did reduce drying time. For such a large load I usually have to add 15 minutes or more to the cycle, and in this case, I didn’t. Of course, as the balls are reusable (they come with a 2 year performance guarantee) they’re great for reducing waste and they’re a perfect alternative for those sensitive to chemicals and chemical smells.
Post Update: Since posting this how-to, another website has picked it up, attracting comments concerning dryer balls. Who knew they were so controversial? I’ll break it down for you: Some say they are hard on clothes. Since I’m new to them, I can’t attest to this one way or the other. Some say they make a racket in the dryer. Although you CAN hear them thump around in there, I wasn’t bothered in the least. Most people agree that they DO help dry your clothes faster, however suggestions have been made that a couple of tennis balls would produce the same outcome. And finally, there are some who have no complaints about them whatsoever. For further reviews, check this out.
'Jumping through hoops' courtesy of Nix Sidhe at flickr.