Laundry costs and how to save money

Here’s a great idea for people who want to save three of the most important things around:

  • Time
  • MoneySave money on laundry costs
  • Environment

First a tactic.  Then a strategy.

I did a quick calculation, which might be accurate or way off (I won’t embarrass myself by trying to reconstruct the calculations and start a debate over just exactly how inaccurate they are).  Suffice to say that your costs and mine could vary greatly, depending on whether you wear thick flannels or tiny tank tops.  Whether you wash in hot, warm or cold water.  Whether you have a top-loading or a front-loading washing machine.  Whether you are on a well or whether you pay for city water.

If a person is in the habit of tossing their PJs in the wash each morning, they could save close to $100 per year just by wearing them three nights.  $100 per person.  So a family of five could save almost $500 a year.

Factor in the cost of water and detergent, perhaps even hot water, and some fabric softener.  There is the extra wear and tear on the PJ fabric and also on your machines to consider, too.

But it’s not just money.  Consider also how much time you spend doing each load of laundry – time you would save.  All the sorting, all the loading, all the transferring, all the folding and all the putting away.  If you live in a vertical home, there is also a lot of up-and-down stairs.  And all that extra detergent that you would no longer be flushing into the environment.  And if you live in a city, how much less water will need to be sanitized.

Why can you save all this money, time and pollution?  Because you wear your PJs only seven or eight hours a day (usually).  If you wear them three nights in a row, that’s 21-24 hours.  Not bad.

Does this always work?  No.  Some people sweat a lot at night.  Some nights you might sweat, and not others.  If you sweat a lot, it might not be so wise to keep wearing the same PJs.  If you don’t sweat at all, you might even be able to wear them four or five nights in a row.

Save on all your laundry

Which brings us to the strategy.  This is not about PJs.  This is about when you need to do laundry.  All too often North Americans (and I assume other people in developed countries) think that you have to wash clothes after each time you wear them.

But that makes no sense. Clothes need to be washed when they are dirty.  And when is that?

When they start to smell.  That’s right, put them to the smell test.  If they smell like sweat, put them in the laundry.  If they don’t smell like sweat, they are ready to be worn again.  There is no magical period to wear something.  Sometimes you sweat more than other times.  That is the way things work.  Sometimes you will need to wash a piece of clothing after just a few hours.  Other times, after several days.

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The other time you need to wash clothing is if you dirty them from the outside – you spill something on them or they rub against something and get dirty.

Imagine how much time you would save if you had 50 fewer loads of laundry to do each year.   Or 60.  Or even just 30.

If your clothes don’t fail the smell test or the dirt test, there is no reason they should not go back in the closet.  They are still clean.  Wear them again, and save time, money and the environment.

Frugal tip:  Save even more by drying them outside. No fabric softener will ever make your clothes smell as fresh as gool ‘ol fresh air.