When it comes to saving money at home, your laundry can be an unexpected drain on your household’s finances. Average energy costs in the UK are £0.34 per kWh for the price cap period from October 1 to December 31, 2022. This means that the average washing machine uses 0.34 x 0.793 = £0.27 of electricity per cycle. If you use your washing machine 220 times a year, it would cost you £59.32 in electricity costs, so trying to save on each wash is more important than ever.
Here, experts have shared their top tips for saving money on your laundry so that you can spend your savings better elsewhere.
1. Wash less frequently
It is safe to say that laundry is many people’s least favourite chore around the house, so you may be thrilled to hear that one of the best ways to save money on laundry is to simply do it less often.
Kathleen Bell, Smol’s sustainable cleaning expert said: “My top tip is simply just to wash your clothes less. Unless it is underwear or you’ve been sweating a lot, most of our clothes don’t need washing after one or even two wears. Outer garments, like jumpers, for instance, may only need washing every five or six wears.
“In order to keep your clothes fresher for longer, shake clothes out when you get home and hang them up – airing clothes out at the end of the day allows faint smells to fade. Hanging by a window can also be a good idea as the UV from the sun’s light can help to kill bacteria.
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“For clothes that have small stains or spillages but are otherwise clean, spot-clean the area directly rather than adding to the wash. The best way to tell if clothes need a wash is to use your nose and give clothes a quick sniff test.”
2. Cut back on laundry products
Not only does cutting down on laundry detergents help save clothes from horrid soap build-up, but can help to save money too. Professional cleaner Sara San Angelo, known as The Cleaning Lady, said: “All you need is one tablespoon for a regular load and two for a large. A little goes a long way with laundry soap and it is going to save you a ton of money.”
3. Make your own laundry detergent
Unless the laundry symbols on your garments say that your clothing needs specific cleaning agents, the chances are you can make your own laundry detergent at home. There are hundreds of recipes out there for different needs, often using things you already have laying around your home. Even better, these household cleaners are usually better for the environment too.
4. Wash with colder temperatures
Getting the temperature right on a washing machine is something that many people struggle with, however, it is usually a lot more simple than you think. Washing on a cold wash is great for saving money, and is no less efficient at cleaning your clothes at high temperatures. A wash at 30 degrees is enough to freshen up clothes and remove stains such as blood from clothing.
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Kathleen said: “Washing at the right temperature not only helps for energy-saving but can also help keep your clothes looking better for longer, too. Most detergents work perfectly, and sometimes even better, at lower temperatures, because anything too hot can denature the enzymes in them that break down stains.”
Washing in colder temperatures is also recommended when washing towels and linens to preserve their fluffiness and extend their lifespan, and it is even good for washing whites.
5. Get to know your machine settings
Before doing the washing, it is always a good idea to keep your washing machine manual close at hand so you can refer to it as and when you need it.
Kathleen suggested: “Digging out your washing machine’s manual could save a lot of money per year. While eco washes are often longer, they use less energy overall so really understanding what’s best for your washing, and your wallet is important.
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“Another benefit of digging out your manual is knowing the capacity of your drum. A half load of washing still uses the same energy and water as a full load, so you could potentially be wasting hundreds a year.
“To check if your machine is full a clever trick is to use your hand to measure a palm’s width between the top of your laundry and the top inside of the drum – any less and the washing won’t have room to clean, any more space than the width of your palm then you know you’re not at capacity.
“For both your washing machine and tumble dryer, check if you’re able to use the delay setting to allow you to run your machine at times of the day when energy is cheaper for you.”
6. Air dry your clothes
Once you know just how much it costs to run a tumble dryer, households will likely be looking for cheaper alternatives to getting their clothes dry. Sara recommended: “Air drying is a great way to save money while doing the laundry and your clothes come out smelling naturally fresh and clean.”
Kathleen agreed: “Out of all the appliances in your home, your tumble dryer will usually be the one using the most energy- roughly 4.5 kWh per cycle
“Air drying can have a big impact on your wallet. While drying outside isn’t always possible, especially as we head towards the festive season and the weather takes a turn, there are other ways of drying at home.
“Using an extra spin cycle on your wash helps to get as much moisture out of clothes as possible before hanging them up to dry. Should you be using a drying rack, it’s important to remember to leave enough space for the moisture in your clothes to evaporate – don’t overpack. Wherever possible, be sure to leave clothes to dry in a space without humidity (avoid the bathroom).”
Kathleen added that if households must use the dryer, do multiple loads one after the other to make the most use of the heat built up in the drum. She added: “You can also try adding a towel to the dryer to absorb additional moisture in your drum.”