Wednesday 10 April 2024

Cost Of Living Crisis Series - How To Do Your Laundry Cheaply.

 The cost of living crisis pretty much affects all areas of our budget.  How much it affects the budget can depend on us.  Darren and I have always been frugal.  For most of our married life ( 28 1/2 years ),  we've had to be frugal due to our extremely low income.

We even do our laundry very cheaply and it's never been a strain on our budget.  When money was super tight,  we bought the cheapest laundry powder we could find.  It did the job,  it cleaned our clothes but we also found there were many other tricks to keep the costs down.

Here's how we do our washing for just a few cents a load -

*  I always have a full load in the washing machine.  If I'm going to turn the machine on,  I may as well make the most of it.  If there isn't enough dirty clothes for a load,  we always wait another day or two.

*  I use the most effective and quickest wash cycle for the clothes I'm putting in.  When I had a top loader,  the quickest full load I could do took 37 minutes.  This was the cycle I used over 90% of the time.  I never used the 1 1/2 hour cycle or the delay start.  Every minute I have the machine on costs money in electricity.  Now that I have a front loader,  I can wash a fair amount of clothes on the 15 minute cycle but mostly I use the 39 minute cycle.

*  For the last 14 years I've been making my own laundry powder for just a few cents per load.  In recent years I've been making laundry liquid that's even cheaper than the powder,  The liquid seems to dissolve better in a front loader.  I'll put links to the recipes below.

*  When I did buy and use store bought powder,  I never used the recommended amount stated on the box.  Of course the manufacturer wants you to use X amount.  They want you to use it up quicker so you buy more.  I always halved the amount stated and our clothes came out clean.

*  I've never bought those washing pods.  Have you seen the price of them ? They are about $1 per pod at full price.  Yes I've used a few of them when they were in a show bag.  Yes our clothes smelled lovely,  but who wants to walk around smelling like laundry liquid ?  I'd much rather use a little perfume to smell nice.  I remember years ago I was outside when our next door neighbour was putting their washing on the line.  I could smell their laundry powder / liquid over 15 metres away.

*  I rarely use fabric softener.  In 28 1/2 years I've probably bought 2 bottles.  They were 1/2 price and I diluted them by 50%.  For some reason,  some of our black clothes smell and heavily diluted fabric softener used on a rare occasion helps a little.  So does soaking that item in boiling water.  Fabric softener used often is not good for the clothes and can do damage to the washing machine.  If it needs to be used,  use it sparingly.

*  I dry as much as I can on clothes horses over ducted heating vents in Winter or placed outside either in the Sun or on the deck if it's raining.  If the weather is clear and sunny for the whole day I'll hang the washing on the clothesline.

*  There are only a few instances when I'll use the dryer.  I use it when the clothes won't dry in humid weather.  I will also use the dryer for urgently needed items like work clothes.  If I'm not feeling well,  then sometimes it's easier to throw the washing in the dryer.  When Darren and I had Covid in May last year,  the dryer was the only way we could keep on top of the washing.  I physically couldn't use a peg on the clothes horse or even fling the washing over the rails. 

*  The washing machine and dryer are turned off at the wall when they are not being used.  When the load has finished,  the machine gets turned off straight away.

*  I don't use sanitising liquids.  If we've been sick,  I put a dash of generic brand,  hospital grade disinfectant into each load.

*  I use Aldi stain removing spray and laundry soaker,  homemade Miracle Spray or a stain removing soap when needed.  They all work really well and cost a fraction of the branded products.

*  I don't use essential oils to make my washing smell nice.  They are just too expensive to wash away.  I'd much rather the smell of sunshine on my clothes.

*  I don't use over priced eco friendly products.  Usually they rate very poorly in the Choice magazine tests.  I've had washing machine repair men tell me they are rubbish too.  Homemade laundry powder / liquid uses less plastic, few chemicals and saves me a small fortune.  It's also easier on my sensitive skin.


Laundry Powder

Homemade Laundry Liquid

Miracle Spray

Dry the washing on clotheshorses.

Ingredients for laundry powder

Watching the washing machine.

How do you keep your laundry costs down ?


  1. As we live in a sub-tropical climate, with lots of sunshine, we don't own a dryer. We have solar panels so wash when sun is up, never at night, to make best use of our power. We have racks on our verandah and an extra line strung up in our garage for rainy days. I don't buy fabric softener; instead I use homebrand white vinegar instead. This also helps keep my machine clean. We have a top loader and save shower warm-up water to pour in rather than let it run down drain.

  2. I believe that fabric softener clogs up your machine. I have been using homebrand vinegar for years. I think it makes the woolens and towels more fluffy and nothing smells of vinegar. We had a dryer back when we lived in a block of flats for 6 months in Melbourne but got rid of it when we moved into our own house 40 years ago. Like you, my washing in winter is dried on the horse in front of the fire if the weather is bad and in summer on the line. I cringe when our daughters use their driers in summer when the wind is blowing and the sun shining!!

  3. Wonderful hints Wendy. I was using the cheapskates washing powder in my top loader for years but have switched to a front loader and just doesn't dissolve the same in a cold wash. I've been using it up on my towels and sheets on a hot wash only. Went back to bought washing powder but will give your Liquid Laundry Detergent a go when the box is near empty. Have all the ingredients in the cupboard already. I save soap scraps up to add to the generic laundry soap so will keep saving them. We stopped buying shower gel, and went back to soap to use less plastic, no more bottles or bought sponges. I've not owned a dryer since our 26 year old daughter was in nappies, and have only washed when had a full load. My Nan taught me clothes don't always need a wash after one wear, so that saves on wear and tear on clothes. I don't like the smell of perfumed laundry products either. Sends my sinus's crazy. Never used fabric softener ever. Neither did Nan. Funny, my mum always used a dryer, fabric softener. I'm definately like my Nan. She was frugal, clever and made things last.

  4. When we bought a new washing machine we bought one with a 9kg drum. It's a front loader (which is the default in Belgium), so I only wash about 2 loads per week for our family of 2 adults and 2 teenaged girls.
    I have an umbrella-like rotating clothes rack that I put in the backyard (it has it's own reinforced hole in the lawn); hanging the laundry is my me-time :) It can hold the whole 9kg load, both weight-wise and size-wise, and more.
    Lots of items that husband and daughters put in the laundry basket I just air out and return to them, especially woollen and woolmix jumpers and cardis.
    I use Aldi laundry powder, or any powder I can find on a discount.


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