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5 More Frugal Laundry Tips

When I wrote that recent post for Purex, I had more tips to share than would fit in the post length they wanted. Soooo, here are the extras!

laundry pile on bed.


1. I wash most laundry in cold water

Generally, the enzymes in laundry detergents will work in water that’s 60º F or higher, and since I don’t live in a super cold climate, the cold water here works just fine.

Cold water obviously saves electricity, but also, it’s gentler on clothes and doesn’t cause as much fading.

control knobs on a washing machine.

Sometimes hotter water is necessary to get some stains out (such as greasy stains), but I’d say I wash 95% of my loads on cold, and I notice no ill effects.

(If you are worried about killing germs while someone in your household is sick: Using your dryer on high heat is going to be more effective for that. If I was doing laundry in a hotel or hospital, I’d exercise more serious bacteria precautions. But I am not doing laundry on that scale!)

I do sanitize my dishcloths and washcloths by boiling them for ten minutes once or twice a year, but that’s much cheaper than using hot water for every load all year long.

2. I use the sun to get stains out of white fabric

Food-based stains (such as tomato sauce) are tough to get rid of! But if that type of stain is on white fabric, I lay the item out in the bright sunlight, and usually that gets rid of the stain.

glass mason jar of tomato sauce.

This also works for food containers stained by tomato sauce.

Note: I don’t recommend this tip for dark-colored clothes because the sun might fade the whole item.

3. I always, always sort out my lights and darks

I have met a lot of people who think this is an unnecessary step, but if you want your light-colored clothes to stay fresh and new-looking, you really, REALLY should not wash them with your dark clothes.

Kristen in scrubs.

I never, ever, ever wash my student scrub shirt with my student scrub pants. That shirt may be an ugly rectangle, but I can at least keep it white!

Throwing lights and darks all in together will get you dingy, dull whites/lights in a hurry.

And once your light items are dingy, you might be tempted to replace them.

Better to take a few minutes to make a light and dark pile, and keep your clothes looking new and fresh!

4. I sometimes ignore “dry clean only” labels

(Apply this tip at your own risk. I’m not assuming responsibility for any of your laundry. 😉 )

There are some garments that for SURE should only be dry cleaned.

Kristen in a blazer.


Like…a dress covered in sequins.

A suit jacket.

A pair of leather pants.

(Not that I have ever owned a pair of leather pants. But if I did, I’d dry-clean them!)

But sometimes I do think manufacturers are a little too quick to slap a “dry clean only” label on an item, when all it really needs is a gentle wash in cold water plus line-drying.

For instance, you know those dresses I just bought from Target?  The white and the blue-striped ones? They say dry clean only!

blue sundress.

And I think that’s crazy, especially for a white dress that I will wear regularly. The cost of dry-cleaning would quickly exceed the price of the dress.

Plus, the fabric is just cotton and polyester.

So, I boldly threw the white dress in the washing machine after I wore it recently, line-dried it, and it’s jussst fine.

white dress.

If you aren’t quite brave enough to put an item through the wash, you could try hand washing it in cold water with gentle detergent to see how that goes.

Obviously, if you choose to follow this tip, you are incurring a little bit of risk. But I can tell you that I personally have never ruined an item by gently laundering it, and I have saved myself a ton of money on dry-cleaning fees this way.

Just don’t try this with an item you absolutely, positively cannot risk ruining!

5. I use liquids vs. pods

Load for load, pods are usually the most expensive way to buy laundry detergent (and this holds true for dishwasher detergent as well).

white bottle of laundry detergent.

It is not that challenging to pour out laundry detergent, so I have never been particularly tempted to pay extra for the pods.

Now I want to know: do you ignore dry-clean-only labels too?

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Sunday 14th of July 2024

I just washed two blazers this past week - one was a hand me down from mum, the other from a thrift shop, and made of jersey on the outside - both were lined. Both survived!

Kerry Ross

Wednesday 10th of July 2024

We’ve recently started using soap nuts for laundry. It seems to be working well!


Wednesday 10th of July 2024

Yes My hoa banned outside lines However I do what the Victorians did and have indoor lines Helps with humidity in winter too


Wednesday 10th of July 2024

The washer sheets are the cheapest I have found and no plastic bottle in the land full I use earth breeze and have them mailed


Wednesday 10th of July 2024

I absolutely ignore the dry clean only labels. After working at 2 dry cleaners in college, I quickly learned that they don't necessarily put everything in the dry-cleaning solution. Many times, they would hand wash garments!! Some items that people thought were being dry cleaned were washed in the big commercial washing machines--it all depended on the fabric. The chemical solution used for dry cleaning wears clothes out faster, and I don't recommend for most clothing.

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