How I Keep Our Laundry Frugal

by Nicki on May 6, 2010

in Saving Money

Yesterday I posted about how I keep up with our laundry. Today I want to share how I try to keep it frugal.


Re-wear Your Clothes

No, not all of them. Sometimes you can though. If you only wore a pair of jeans for half the day and didn’t get them dirty then there’s no reason to toss them in the hamper. I feel the same way about sweatshirts. If I just wear a sweatshirt in the evening (and I’m not near a camp fire) then I’ll hang it up again. I know some people feel a little strange about wearing clothes more than once but if you’re open to it and can encourage your kids to do the same then it can definitely help decrease the number of loads of laundry you do in a week.

On that same note, do you re-use your bath towels? Again, I know some people don’t like the idea but I don’t have any problem with it at all. I find that I can easily use a bath towel 2 or 3 times before washing it. I’ve heard that putting a little baking soda in the wash helps them stay fresh. Anyone ever tried it?

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

I’m still very happy with my homemade detergent. Laundry detergent can be very expensive, especially if you go through it quickly. I believe it’s one of those cases where the really cheap stuff doesn’t work all that well so you almost have to buy the more expensive brands. That used to strain my food/household budget quite a lot some weeks.

As far as fabric softener goes … umm, I don’t use it. To be honest, I don’t feel like it makes that big of a difference and the only reason I ever bought it was to make my clothes smell nice. Now I know I can get the freshest smell of all by line-drying my clothes outside. Again, not everyone shares my feelings on this one and that’s fine. I’ve heard some great ideas for diluting fabric softener in a spray bottle. When I used to buy it I just used half the recommended amount.

Line Dry Your Laundry

3 seasons a year I line dry almost all of our laundry. I say almost because sometimes it just doesn’t work out. If it rains for 3 days straight then I’m probably just going to use the dryer. Generally, I check the forecast and as long as there isn’t a chance of rain I hang clothes. My clothesline is in a very convenient spot for me. There’s a door that goes outside from my laundry room and right outside that door is the clothesline and the swing set – perfect for dragging three young children along.

If you make line drying convenient, then you’ll be more apt to do it. If you can avoid it, don’t install a clothesline that’s far from your house. You can also line dry indoors. I don’t have the space for that, but if you have a large, finished basement then you may be able to string some line indoors. That would be very convenient. If you’re new to line-drying then ease yourself into it by committing to hang one load per week. Start with bed sheets or towels – those are the easiest.

Buy clothes you can wash at home

Even if an article of clothing is on sale for a fantastic price, I will not buy it if it says “dry clean only.” The only exception would be a suit for my husband for work. Other than that – I am a wash and wear kind of a girl. Not only is it annoying to have to bring things to the cleaners, it’s expensive, so I avoid it.

I wear mostly blue jeans and t-shirts so my wardrobe is pretty low maintenance. David has to dress up for work every day though, so he has dress pants, dress shirts and ties that all need to have gentle care. His work clothes tend to be more expensive so I do my best to take good care of them and make them last. I’m sure many business people take their dress clothes to the cleaner but I don’t have any problem caring for them at home. I wash all of those things on the gentle cycle and dry them on low heat – much less expensive than a dry cleaner.

So – how do you keep your laundry frugal?

Why I do what I do ~ Right now my younger niece says, “Take this on” instead of “put this on,” and “put this off” instead of “take this off.” It can be very confusing trying to understand what exactly she’s asking you to do.

Clothes pins photo by Monica Arellano-OngpinHave you liked Domestic Cents on Facebook yet?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 amy May 6, 2010 at 1:45 pm

These are great tips! Thanks for sharing. I use an indoor drying rack for cloth diapers and sometimes for clothes too… we, however, live in a condo in the city, so there’s not much room for a clothesline. I gotta say, you’re cracking me up saying “others might not agree with me” like three times in one post. Of course they might not… but this is your blog and you write it to get your thoughts and ideas out there. And presumably folks read it because they want to hear your thoughts and ideas. No need to be self conscious that your thoughts and ideas might not be shared by all! Personally, I do share the re-wearing clothes and reusing towels idea. This was, however, a new concept for my husband who was used to having everything washed by his parents and throwing a towel on the floor to be cleaned after one use. We’ve adapted though and are on the same page now. :)


2 Nicki May 6, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Yikes! I didn’t realize I sounded so self-conscious! :) Thanks for the heads-up Amy!


3 lisa May 6, 2010 at 5:30 pm

We reuse bath towels 2-3 times, but I change the hand towels in the bathrooms every day. I definitely believe in wearing jeans more than once. Good tips.
.-= lisa´s last blog ..Citrus Marinated Pork Tacos with Pineapple Salsa =-.


4 Nicki May 6, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Lisa – I rotate out hand towels frequently too!


5 Andrea May 6, 2010 at 6:57 pm

I’m embarrassed to say how much I rewear my clothes and how infrequently I rotate towels! Unfortunately, the kids are just unable to rewear clothes because they are SO messy!!
.-= Andrea´s last blog ..When pattern editors don’t do their job =-.


6 Nicki May 6, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Andrea, my daughter doesn’t re-wear very much either. She gets it dirty WAY too fast. I’m lucky if an outfit makes it through one day with her!


7 Zengirl @ Heart and Mind May 7, 2010 at 3:25 pm


I have done almost all, except for making laundry detergent at home, I am seeing it everywhere, may be I should try it out.

By the I love feature at the end of post, why I do what I do, it always make me smile!
.-= Zengirl @ Heart and Mind´s last blog ..Renewed look for Heart and Mind site! =-.


8 Kika May 7, 2010 at 10:33 pm

We use our bath towels multiple times before washing but change hand towels and kitchen towels each day. Likewise I wear my clothes tons before washing – unless they smell or are visibly dirty or my favorite pants are rather stretched out. My husband needs to wash his clothes more frequently (particularly sports wear) but dress shirts/pants for work and sweaters, etc., are worn as many times as possible before washing. It is such a strange concept to me that people would automatically wash an item of clothing after wearing it once. I never use drycleaners (chemicals!!!) and use my laundry line much of the time for about half the year – pretty cold here much of the year.


9 harvestwages May 9, 2010 at 3:46 pm

I never thought about frugal laundry. thanks for this inside. hope to put it in practice
.-= harvestwages´s last blog ..Self Empowerment – Emotional Intelligence For Your Success =-.


10 Elisa | blissfulE May 16, 2010 at 4:13 am

I found myself nodding and agreeing with this post. I love saving money on that necessary evil, laundry. However, my husband’s work clothes are drycleaned (I HATE ironing and we just don’t have time for it).

We have a clothesline under our carport for foul weather and darker clothing as well as a sunny clothesline for the whites. I have to admit that the clothesline configuration at this house was a happy factor in our purchase decision.

Instead of making my own laundry detergent I use Soapnuts – frugal and fantastic with no chemicals to irritate my skin (I find almost all laundry detergents very irritating).
.-= Elisa | blissfulE´s last blog ..Michael’s drum kit =-.


11 Tracy May 23, 2010 at 11:00 am

Thanks for the homemade laundry soap recipe. Definately going to try it!I find the harsh chemicals in the store bought stuff( even the “natural” stuff) is very harsh on my son’s and my skin.Thanks again .


12 Crystal May 25, 2010 at 5:27 pm

My mother suggested using regular white vinegar instead of fabric softener. I thought she was nuts, but I tried it and it works well, in the dryer or on the line!


13 Nicki May 25, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Crystal – My mother is right about weird things all the time too … and I have a sister named Crystal. Funny!! :) I’ve heard that about white vinegar. Maybe I’ll give it a try!


14 finallygettingtoeven May 29, 2010 at 8:37 pm

I also line dry so i watch the weather. I don’t have a clothesline so i hang my clothes on hangers from the trees in the backyard (i’m sure my neighbors think i am just a little bit nuts). In the winter i have clothes hanging from all the door frames throughout the house. I also have a rod (that is used for hanging bathroom shower curtains, so it is nice & heavy) and i use it in a double-wide doorway. You can get alot of hangers on it this way.

I do use store bought det but i use an amount about the size of a pencil eraser, that’s it. Believe it or not there is so much soap left in your clothing from previous washes that you don’t need to overload it with more with every wash. I know of some people that don’t use any det every other time and they swear that their clothes come out just as clean and fresh smelling.

I swear by vinegar in the rinse cycle (put it where fab soft would go). It is designed to help remove all soap residue from your clothing. Ever since i started using it my clothes have a crisp, clean feeling coming from the washer. Plus it helps line-dried clothes not be stiff.


15 Bankruptcy Ben June 1, 2010 at 1:15 am

I live in Brisbane it never gets below 70degrees here so we’ve always line dried. I’ve also got a line in my garage so i hang the washing out there when it rains and they still dry.

The easiest way to save money on laundry detergent is to not use much! The packet directions are always way to much. I probably use a tablespoon per load. I also contected the drainage hose from my washing machine out to my vege garden so I water the garden when I do the washing.


16 Terrie June 23, 2012 at 7:26 am

I use the hand towel 2 days: I turn the side that is by the wall to the outside on day 2. People never use the part that is up against the wall. 8 )
I have a tarp that I put over my clothes line when there is a chance of a sprinkle or two. You know those days where it is sunny when you hang the clothes out and then an itsy bitsy cloud “tinkles” on your almost-dry clothes. I run out and throw the tarp over the clothes. For the winter, my husband rigged a set of 5 lines in the basement. He used angle iron screwed to the rafters. Makes the dehumidifier work a little harder, but cheaper than using the electric dryer.
I tried your homemade soap and had to return to get the recipe for my second batch. I had added KoolAid lemonade to the first batch. Don’t know if that helped, but I’m going to do it again. (Found a great deal — 10 pkgs for $1 US!)
Love your ideas! Great blog! Thanks for taking the time to share this with us.


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