Friday, November 21, 2008

Frugal Friday--Laundry

Here's a list of ways to make laundry day a bit more economical:
  1. Hang clothes to dry on a clothes line.
  2. Cut your drier sheets in half or use them twice (drier sheets have FAR more stuff in them than the average load needs. Since the sheet usually ends up in the middle of the clothing, and I rarely see it until I've hauled all the clothes back upstairs, I just cut them in half.)
  3. Wash in warm or cold water rather than hot. (I use hot for the diapers, warm for undies/socks, and cold for everything else.)
  4. If you use a drier, do several loads back to back. The residual heat in the drier from one load to the next means it won't have to heat up as much for the next load, which saves electricity.
  5. Wash large loads rather than several smaller ones--it saves water.
  6. Wear clothes more than once before washing (ha, I just snuck that one in there!)(It's true though--if you wear a garment a couple of times before washing it, then not only will you spend less on washing it, but the garment will last longer because let's face it, washing machines are hard on clothes!) (Obviously if the item is visibly dirty or smells bad you should wash it, but I'm talking especially about things like jeans that can go all week!)
  7. Add a little plain cheap salt to your laundry--it loosens the fibers of the fabrics and makes the detergent more effective (so you can use less detergent per load)
  8. Use half the amount of laundry soap for average loads--you rarely need the full scoop.
  9. Make your own laundry detergent (recipe below).
  10. If you've been buying the expensive liquid detergent because it's gentler on your clothes, try this instead: get an old cup, and put the powdered detergent in the cup with some hot water. Mix until dissolved, then pour into the washer--voila, liquid detergent! (and also no more white detergent residue on dark clothes!)
  11. Be sure to regularly clean the lint screen on your dryer. If it's full of lint, it inhibits air circulation and slows drying time. (Also it's a fire hazard!)
Laundry soap recipe
please note that this recipe is NOT appropriate for cloth dipers with PUL, as the borax breaks down'll work for everything else though!
1 cup borax
1 cup baking soda (it's milder than washing soda--washing soda is actually caustic and dangerous, and with the possible exception of diapers, you just don't need it)
1 grated bar of soap (~1.5 cups) (fels naptha is usually recommended, but it is pretty hefty stuff, I have used "pure & natural" and it's worked great...I have heard that you do NOT want to use ivory since it's a soap rather than a detergent...I have no personal experience, except to say that if you want to make a mix for washing diapers, you definitely want a detergent, NOT a soap!)
Mix all ingredients together. Add 3cups salt if desired.
Use 1 Tbs per load (2Tbs for heavily soiled items, or if you used salt)
Now see, that was easy!


Carolyn said...

Thanks for the great tips! I do most of them already. I don't usually hang my laundry out to dry because A) DH never finished making my clothesline and B) We are in the Pacific NW and only have summers to hang our laundry. Otherwise it would take all day. I also usually wash a load of laundry a day rather than have "laundry day" because so much laundry overwhelms me.

I do wash my diapers with sheets, towels and undies though. We don't have a lot to wash (just one DD wears them at night now) so it seems silly to wash a dedicated load of diapers. I'll probably go back to just diapers when we have babe #3 in a year or two.

Oh, and we just skip the dryer sheets-- DH is very sensitive to smells and my girls have eczema, so the less chemicals the better.

binders said...

Thanks for that recipe. I actually make my own bath soap (such a fun hobby) so I have real, grated soap and could easily use this recipe. I'd have to liquify everything though since I have front loaders but I've really hated the laundry soap for front loaders and I find it doesn't rinse out as well as it should.

Also, be careful about using grocery store 'soaps'. I think Ivory is the only brand that is real soap- the rest are detergent bars. Once you get used to natural vegetable soaps, you'll never go back to store bought. They're so amazing for the skin and don't dry you out like the grocery store detergent bars.

Cathryn said...

I'm not kidding, the very first thing I did upon moving into this house last year was to go to the local hardware store and buy some line for a clothesline. Then I strung it rather haphazardly from my back porch railing to the shed roof. It looks a little silly, but I love, love, love clothes dried by the sun. And especially bedsheets.

I almost never use my dryer, but even when I do, I haven't bought dryersheets or the other stuff, liquid fabric softener, in years. I guess ever since I was introduced to cloth diapers. Occasionally silky unders get a little staticky if they've been through the dryer, but running my hand through the basket once seems to cut most of it, and anyway, it doesn't bother me. I'm not usually a conspiracy theorist but I've come to think the need for fabric softener was completely manufactured by the laundry detergent companies.

I think I already do everything else on your list--well, I don't make detergent anymore since the stuff I buy is almost as cheap, and I can't use the homemade stuff on diapers. And I used to wash at the temperatures you specify, but within the last year I've noticed the warmer water really does clean better for us, so I use hot for whites/undies, diapers, and dishrags (I never buy papertowels, so we use a lot of those), warm for light colors, which tend to have more stains, and cold for darks/jeans.

Carrie said...

Oh! How I wish that I could do all this! We have, literally, the hardest water in the nation and since we can't install a water softener washing clothing, dishes etc. has become the most annoying task ever because it takes so much longer. I can't wait to move to a place where I don't have to wash my diapers 5 times in order to get them clean enough. It is really hard on the diapers too!

I might just have to switch back to disposables because I am already going to have to replace the velcro on my BG's laundry tabs. Any suggestions for that btw? Email me if you have any.

natalie said...

Great tips. I make my own liquid recipe and really like it. Hmm... so what would you recommend for diapers? Is there a homemade recipe that works for them? Or is it just best to buy laundry soap for those?

Mommy Bee said...

For hard water you can try an additive--visit here click 'how should i wash and care for my diapers' on the right hand column, and then scroll down to the thing about hard water and calgon. It's an additive that you put in right with the soap I think, and it will soften your water.

Honestly, i still buy the detergent for my diapers. It's just easier for me to stick with the one that I know works, rather than messing with trying to change my recipe to be diaper-appropriate.

I DO know of people who wash with just salt and vinegar. That would be diaper-safe! I liked it for my prefolds but wasn't impressed with it on my AIOs and pockets (ie, anything with synthetic fabrics)

nicole said...

Wow! Thanks for all the great ideas! I'll try some of your tips next time I do the laundry. :)

Sanity said...

To carrie up there, add baking soda to the wash, when you add the detergent. It will end up softening the water some. Also, the salt the the original poster mentioned will help as well. If you are tired of replacing laundry tabs, you may want to try diapers that snap instead.

I haven't used fabric softener or dryer sheets since I started using cloth diapers 6 years ago.

A recipe for laundry detergent that you can use with PUL is this:

1 bar fels naptha
1 cup washing soda
1 dropperful tea tree oil

grate soap into saucepan, add just enough water that it doesn't scorch, and heat and stir until it is melted.

Pour into bucket with HOT water most of the way up add 1 cup washing soda and stir until dissolved.

You can use it NOW, but if you cover it let sit for 8 hours (stir every couple hours) it will gel up. You use 1/3 c in a large load, 2/3 c if heavily soiled.

I have used this on PUL with great success.

lisa said...

this is pretty much the most awesome thing ever.

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