Tuesday, July 08, 2008

home series: saving money in the laundry room- and still smelling clean!

i've been thinking about doing a short series is of posts, talking about some of the things that work for me, and how i save money in the running of my household. every one has different things that they do that work well, and i just wanted to share some of my tried and true ideas. most of these are minor, but with only one full time income, every little bit helps!

a room that most of us probably spend alot of time in is the laundry room. with 6 children, cloth diapers, and a dirty work crew i average about 4 loads of laundry a day. i've come up with several areas where i've decided that i can save money.

the first, and most obvious, is to hang laundry outside. it's the green thing to do, and your clothes smell really nice and fresh. (preaching to the choir here!) with an elcetricity bill last month alone of $185, i've been much more diligent about hanging out our clothes. also, i've found that it's a really good excuse for me to get outside. some days i don't get out as much as i would like, so it's a welcome respite.
several years ago, a friend told me about economical detergent from sam's club. i've been using it ever since, with no complaints. however, after moving to the country, which includes having our own well, i'm observing that our water is too cold to dissolve the powdered detergent. regular liquid detergent can be expensive, so i decided to make my own! i'm not the only crazy stay-at-home mom out there, and i found a recipe for it here. this is a very informative site, and will answer all your questions, should you decide to try this. i made a double recipe of this soap yesterday, in an old wind fresh bucket, and i am pleased to say that it turned out well, and it even smells nice! crystal did the math for the per load cost, and came up with $.01 a load. by making the detergent myself, and not having to buy the store-bought liquid, i'm saving about $.17 a load, or $224.64 yearly. not a phenomenal savings, i'll admit, but i have to start somewhere!

the third thing i do to save money in the laundry room is rags. as in make my own. old t-shirts, sheets, towels and flannel shirts are especially nice, and fair game. however, i do draw the line at old, used cotton underwear. i have a vivid memory of helping my grandmother dust her house, using a rather large pair of old underwear. i still cringe at the memory! (maybe that's why i have an aversion to dusting. i'll have to explore that further another day.) as for washing the rags, i do them in their own load, so don't worry- no nasty things floating around with our delicates! i've never bought paper towels, so i couldn't say how much we're saving, but judging how my gang goes through stuff, i'd guess it's a nice little chunk of change.

recently i've read how to save money on some of the other laundry products that i use: dryer sheets and fabric softener. since the dryer sheets have way to much chemicals and stuff in them, by cutting them in thirds, i'm still getting nice smelling, static free laundry, for (drum roll please) 1/3 the cost! also, for the liquid fabric softener, the rule of thirds still applies. using the concentrated softener, dilute it with equal amounts of white household vinegar and water. tada- another savings of 1/3. i'm just amazing you will all my frugality and mathematical prowess. i have noticed that since i've diluted the liquid fabric softener, and added the vinegar, our laundry acutally smells better then when i was using the softener alone.

finally, another thing that i've been doing for awhile is buying all my household cleaning supplies at dollar general. i'm getting name brand products for a fraction of the price that i would pay elsewhere. i just made a dollar general run last week, but when my cleaning supply runs out, i'm considering making my own stuff, with recipes i found here and here. for just a small amount of extra work, i can get the satisfaction of helping our house and family run just as smoothly, while saving money.

i realize that none of these ideas is particularly earth shattering and probably not even original. you may be doing some of these things already, but all of them together can really start to add up. i'd like to do some more posts about saving money in other rooms- the kitchen comes to mind- i have a few ideas and strategies for in there, too.

if you've stopped by for a visit from kristin's site, take the time to look around and visit for a minute. i bet we have lots in common- homeschooling, scrap booking, knitting, quilting, canning, remodeling and gardening, not to mention my desire to serve God in all I do, and raise children to love and serve Him, too.


ames said...

Good for you! I've been trying to dry my clothes on the line as often as possible, but it's been so rainy this summer. I do need to use more homemade rags though, and I certainly have plenty of old ratty t-shirts that can volunteer for the job! Thanks for the tips!

Brenda said...

Thanks for the laundry tips. I wish we could have a clothesline, but our neighborhood does not allow it.

Jodi said...

great ideas - glad to hear they're working so well for you!

Audra Krell said...

I make my own rags too and love the thin cotton diapers, they are perfect for dusting. (unstained of course!)

queenoftheclick said...

I love that you make your own laundry detergent and I am going to try that recipe you recommend.

Tracey said...

I haven't tried Dollar General for cleaning supplies, but I think we have one close by. Thanks for the tips!

Jane said...

I live in a Los Angeles apartment. I have to pay $1.50 per load right up front. I have been using a drying rack most of the time for a while. We have the arid heat after all! But the laundry soap is something I have not done. I will have to try that. I like your easy going approach!


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