Save Money on Laundry- Part 1: Washing machines
Laundry can be expensive. Between the washer and dryer, electricity, water, and soap the costs really add up if you do 5 loads a week like my family does. In this three part series , the Art of Being Cheap looks at ways to cut your laundry costs to save big money. In part 1 we look at saving money on washing machines, in part 2 we look at saving money on dryers, and in part 3 we look at saving money by making your own laundry detergent.
The first cost associated with laundry is also the biggest. A top of the line washer and dryer set can cost well over $1,000. Regular readers of the Art of Being Cheap already know how to cut this cost, buy a set off of Craigslist. When you look for a set on Craigslist you will notice that mismatched sets, or sets that aren’t the same model or brand sell for a huge discount.
When I bought my set I took advantage of this. My laundry room is in a deep, dark unfinished corner of my basement far from where any house guests are likely to see, so it doesn’t matter how pretty they are. What about your house? Are your washer and dryer in a public area where people will see them, or does it just not matter? If it doesn’t matter, go with the unmatched set to save big. If it were me, I would want a mismatched set even if they were in a public area because it would give me another way to brag about how cheap I am, but I understand that most people aren’t like me.
So you can save money by buying a mismatched set or by buying your washer and dryer separately. Let’s look at washers more:
Front Load Washers
I recommend buying a front load washer. They will cost you more to begin with, but they save money over time by using less water and using less gas to heat that water. It is difficult to say exactly how much you will save because it depends on a lot of different factors such as what cycles you use, the current cost of gas, the water temperature you use, etc. I have seen several estimates around the internet that your average savings will be about $0.20/ load, so let’s use that number for the sake of this article.
Use this calculator to see how much a front load washer would save you:
In addition to saving money and being environmentally friendly, there are other advantages to front load washers. Since we got a front load washer, my wife has noticed the clothes are getting cleaner and seem to be getting less wear and tear from the washer. Because there is no agitator in the middle of the washing tub, it is also easier to load larger items like sleeping bags and blankets.
Unlike washers, there is not much real difference between a low end dryer and a high end dryer. According to energystar.gov, the most efficient dryers only save about 10% electricity versus the lower end models. So save your money on dryers and go with a high rated cheap model rather than a more expensive one sold as a set with a front load washer.
If you really want to save money on a dryer, maybe you don’t need one at all. Most of the world’s population dries their clothes by hanging them up. This would be more work for you, but would also save money. This drying rack is only $24 at amazon.com , which is much less than you could usually find an electric dryer for on Craigslist. As far as ongoing energy costs, the estimates I found says it costs about $.25/load to dry with a gas dryer, or about $0.57/load with a electric dryer. Use this table to see how much you could save in a year by not using an electric or gas dryer:
I suggested this to my wife, but she reminded me that I wear dress clothes to work which would have to be ironed if they didn’t go through the dryer. I hate ironing, so $150/year isn’t enough to keep me from using the electric dryer, but maybe it would work for you.
At my local Target store, a bottle of high efficiency tide costs about $12 and is supposed to clean 64 loads of laundry, which adds up to about $0.19/ load. You can save a lot of money on laundry detergent by making your own. Here is the recipe we used. A box of borax cost us $4, and there is enough to make 9 batches of laundry detergent, so that costs about $0.44 to make a batch. A box of washing soda cost us $3, and there was enough to make 6 batches, so that costs about $0.50/batch. If you can find a bar of soap for $1, that means that this recipe costs a little less than $2 to make. If you use 1/2 cup per load, you can get 64 loads out of a batch at a cost of about $0.03/ load for a savings of $0.16/ load over buying tide. You can calculate how much you would save by making your own laundry detergent here:
So, that’s how to save money on laundry. Happy washing!