Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thrifty Thursday: Saving Money on the Laundry

I think we could unanimously agree that laundry stinks.  Does anyone like to do laundry!?  Maybe having some tips for saving money will make it a little better?

I am an incredibly frugal person.  I hate spending money.  So I have lots of ways I save here and there, and they all add at to some pretty good savings.  Lets just start at the beginning of laundry, shall we?

One big money waster, water waster, and energy waster is washing small loads.  I have a family of four, and only do laundry twice a week...sometimes just once.  I keep it in baskets in the laundry room and shut the door.  (And yes, I am the only one who actually puts it in the baskets!  Like my husband or kids would?!) 

Next, I don't buy laundry detergent.  I have not  purchased any laundry detergent in about 7 months.  Instead, I make my own! Basically, I was spending about $15 a month on the detergent, which comes to $180 a year!  To make your own laundry detergent, you need Borax, Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (not baking soda, washing soda), and a bar of soap.  Walmart sells Zote, but there are other options.  I actually use Ivory, because I have a TON of it since I found it on sale.  It literally only takes 1 Tablespoon per load.  To buy all the ingredients for this soap, I spend $15.  I have only made it once because it lasts so long!  At this rate, I will be making some more in the next two months, but even so I am only spending $30 a year on laundry soap!  A savings of $150?  I think I can handle that! (This is a powdered detergent.  I will include the recipe for this, and the liquid at the end of the blog.)  Another thing about store bought detergent.  Have you ever done research on some of the things they put in there?!  Lots and lots of chemicals.  Most of them are to create suds (which doesn't equate to cleaning), color, scent, etc.  Borax and washing soda are both naturally occurring, so they are better on the environment, too!
Total savings - $150/year

I bet you can guess that I don't use store bought softener.  Purchasing fabric softener usually comes to about $72 a year.  Vinegar is one of my most favorite things ever, and I can get a gallon of the stuff for $5. For my laundry I buy about 3 a year, so $15. Using vinegar as a fabric softener is as easy as pouring it into the fabric softener cup in your washer.  It naturally removes odors, and won't build up on the fabric.  It actually helps reduce buildup on the fabric.  I do know some people who "make" their own dryer sheets.  I don't use the dryer enough to justify this, but I will include that recipe down at the bottom, as well.
Total savings - $57/year

I rarely use my clothes dryer during the summer.  I even get somewhat annoyed at having to use it, and have even been known to change my laundry day if it is rainy, just so I don't have to use it.  (I do however live in the Texas panhandle, so rainy days are few and far between.)  Line drying is the most basic use of solar and wind energy!  Would you believe it takes less time to line dry than machine dry?!  It saves wear and tear on your clothes.  Sun is also your white's best friend;  It naturally fades stains!  Nature even provides a nice, clean smell to your laundry.  How many of us purchase laundry scents such as "outdoor fresh"?  Why do that when you can get the real thing?!  My favorite thing, though, about line drying is being outside.  I can hang my laundry, listen to the birds, feel the breeze (Or gust here in Texas), and its actually somewhat relaxing!  Not using the dryer during the summer keeps the house from getting unnecessarily hot, and the A/C from runing too much.  In the winter, I do occasionally use the dryer, but it helps warm the house.  But, most the time I hang clothes from various places in the house.  The kids love it because its an obstacle course.  I love it because it saves me money, and even helps put humidity into my home. (Again, this part of Texas is beyond dry most of the time!)  I am NOT big on Math, I hate it.  So, I can't tell you exactly how much energy is saved, and all that.  What I can tell you is my experiment.  I ran the dryer for every single load one month, then the next I didn't use it at all.  It saved $30 on my bill! 
Total savings - $360/year

I think this is my favorite part, because there is a HUGE energy savings here, friends.  My energy.  If the kids are old enough, they get to fold and put their own laundry away. 

Just with these tips, we have saved over $500 a year on laundry, not to mention the energy and earth savings.  See how little things can add up?  I don't know about you, but that's enough to make an extra car payment.  Or an extra Harley payment.  Or a great shopping spree.

I hope these tips have helped.  Do you have tips that I haven't included in here?  I would love to hear them!  Have a wonderful day friends!

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent Recipe
2 cups Fels Naptha Soap, Ivory or Zote (finely grated-don't use the same grater you use for food!!)
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax

Mix well and store in an airtight plastic container. (I use an old Gain Box)
Use 1-2 tablespoons per full load

Homemade Gel Laundry Detergent
1 quart Water (boiling)
2 cups Bar soap (grated)
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda
Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat until soap is melted. Pour the soap water into a large, clean pail and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir well until all is dissolved. Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed. Cover pail and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry. Stir the soap each time you use it (will gel).

Homemade Fabric Softener
1 Bottle of store bought softener of your choice
Pour softener into a LARGE container.  Mix with 2 containers full of water, drop sponge in, and cover well.  To use, squeeze the sponge out gently, and toss in the dryer with the clothes. 


  1. wow, I am blown away! You are really such an inspiration my friend. And you make it seem simple enough that even I am tempted to give these money-saving tips a try (although with the humidity down here by the coast, line-drying our clothes would never work...haha).

    P.S. Maybe you have already addressed this--if so, please forgive me, but how'd you come up with the name of your blog address? why 13 and plum? :-)

  2. April, my dear friend, thank you! Between your idea of Fantastic Friday, and the question you posed above, I now have my blog idea for tomorrow, and cannot WAIT to write it! I will tell you all about the name 13 Plum, and it does have a significant meaning. You know me, I am all about sentimentality, and will fill you in completely tomorrow!!!
    As for the humidity, I feel so terribly sorry for you. As much as I complain about this part of Texas being so windy and dry, I wouldn't trade it for a day of South Texas weather!


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