I’m a green queen, but I’ve always been surprisingly complacent about the cost and environmental impact of my laundry. After learning how harmful the chemicals in detergents and softeners are, I examined my laundry habits and was pleased as punch to find that I could be much greener and save a bunch of money in the process. Yay me!
The average household does approximately 400 loads of washing a year. Using a warm wash followed by a dryer cycle, each load will cost $1.52 for a conservative total of $608 a year. Of course this will vary depending on your machine, the cost of your electricity and how many loads you do.
If you are going to the laundromat, you are paying around $3.12 a load and that would hike your costs up to $1248 a year. I was one of those laundromat chumps, sitting for hours in the stench of sweaty socks waiting for my laundry be done. To add insult to injury, I would usually have to fork out additional money for detergent and fabric softener because I always forgot mine at home.
Having just moved into my first home, I decided to investigate the most energy-efficient way to do my laundry that had a positive impact on the environment. Here’s what I discovered:
- 90% of the energy you use in a normal wash goes to heating your water, so switching to a cold wash drops the price to $2.78 from the $3.12 I was spending at the laundromat.
- I also opted for an energy-efficient Energy Star washing machine which I only operated during off-peak hours to drop my costs to $2.64 per load.
- I gave up my regular detergent for a cheaper, eco-friendly one that I made myself. You can get the recipe here.
- For a fabric softener, I combine 6 cups vinegar with 1 cup baking soda. If you want something which smells great, add 15 drops essential oil. Mix ingredients in a sealable container and wait for the fizzing to stop before you put the lid on, then use as necessary. If you are still a fan of the dryer sheets, make your own environmentally-friendly ones using the tutorial here.
- Making my own laundry products dropped my detergent cost from 50 cents per load to just 10 cents. It also protects my family and the environment from harmful chemicals.
- I ditched my dryer and invested in a Frost Drying Rack from IKEA which took another $0.43 off each load. I chose the clothes rack instead of a clothes line because I can use it all year, rather than just in the summer.
So my 400 loads of laundry at $3.12 a load cost me $1248 while my new laundry regimen costs $1.31 a load and comes out to just $524; a saving of $724 a year!
There are other tips and tricks which I can’t quantify, but also save money on each...