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It’s laundry week at The Frugal Girl!

Or maybe just a few laundry days, depending on how much I have to say!

Since the Horrible Electric Rate Increase happened in our area, my husband and I have been trying really hard to reduce the amount of electricity we use. We figure there’s nothing we can really do about the rate we pay, so our only recourse is to be careful with our usage. One way we’ve done this is by making some changes to the way we do laundry(actually, to the way I do laundry! I don’t let my husband do laundry, because I’m sort of picky about it.)

Here are a few ways that I save money while using my washing maching.

1. I wash full loads. I don’t have any solid numbers on this, but I know it’s more efficient to wash 3 pounds of laundry in one large load than it is to wash two 1.5 pound loads. This might be a little difficult to manage if you’re single, but with the six of us that live here, it’s rarely a problem to come up with a whole load of laundry. Still, though, since 85-90% of your washer’s electricity usage comes from heating the water, this tip won’t save you nearly as much as the next one.

2. I wash almost everything in cold water.
According to Michael Bluejay’s electricity site, 7.5 loads a week in a cold/cold cycle costs $10 a year, whereas 7.5 loads a week done in a hot/cold cycle costs $155 per year(using warm/cold costs $83 a year). This assumes 10 cents per kilowatt hour, which is a tad less than what I pay, but regardless of how much you pay per kilowatt hour, the comparison here is useful. The bottom line is that using hot water costs 15 times as much as using cold water.

I read on Michael Bluejay’s site that by using hot water in your laundry, you use more electricity than you would by keeping your refrigerator door open 24 hours a day. So, washing in cold water is at least worth some consideration. If you can’t bear to give up the heated water altogether, try washing at least some of your dark loads in cold water, or try using warm water instead of hot.

Now, for two objections:

Cold water doesn’t get my clothes clean. I know that some people use hot water because they feel it cleans better, but I’ve not had any trouble getting our clothes clean while using this method. If you do have trouble, try letting your clothes soak in the washing machine(I do this by leaving the lid open…at a certain point in the cycle, it won’t run any longer and it just sits until I shut the lid). I’ve not scientifically tested this, but from what I’ve read, I’ve gathered that soaking is one of the most effective means of removing stains. I also try to pretreat any particularly bad stains with something like Spray n Wash or Shout, and that usually takes care of them.

Cold water won’t kill germs and bacteria.
While I’m sure that hot water kills some of these off, I can say that none of us have gotten any sort of disease from my laundry practices. In fact, we’re a pretty healthy bunch! If I was washing cloth diapers, I’d probably use warm or hot water, but as it is, none of our laundry is terribly germ-infested to begin with and so I use cold, with nary an ill effect.

So, give it a try! You’ll save a pretty decent amount of money, plus your clothes won’t be so prone to shrinking or fading.

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The Frugal Girl » Monday Q&A | My siblings, my childhood, and my clothesline!

Monday 2nd of November 2009

[...] How To Save Money While Washing Your Laundry (about reducing your washing machine’s electricity usage) [...]


Friday 14th of August 2009

I use generic Oxy-Clean in my laundry. When I have stains I want to get out, I let the washer agitate for several minutes, then open the lid and let it soak for up to several hours. This is another time my roommate calls something the magic powder. BTW: Oxy-Clean is just a mixture of sodium carbonate and sodium percarbonate. Several companies sell their own equivalent and it is MUCH cheaper. I get mine at Super Walmart.


Saturday 18th of July 2009

Do you ever use Mrs. Stewart's Liquid Bluing to whiten your clothing? It seems to really help...makes those whites dazzle......


Thursday 18th of September 2008

Hmmm, I'll have to give the vinegar a try! That's weird that it makes them smell good, because vinegar is sort of stinky. :p


Thursday 18th of September 2008

I never change the temperature dial on my washing machine, it is set at cold wash/cold rinse. I use my homemade washing powder and rinse (when I don't forget) with a little white vinegar in the cold water. I dry everything outside and my wash smells good and feels soft. Before changing to homemade washing powder I used liquid detergent and no vinegar rinse and my towels came in off the line as stiff as boards! No more, they are quite soft although they look a little rough. I too am going to look at drying racks in Ikea for the winter.

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