Save Money On Laundry and Get More Free Time!

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save money on laundry and reduce work

Save Money And Time On Laundry!

There seems to be no end to cleaning laundry. I hate to sound like the same broken record but the biggest way to save money on laundry and laundry detergent is not to do so much laundry. Saving money on laundry and reducing the work you have to do often means wearing the same things more than once if they’re not really dirty and being more careful how you use your clothes and linens.

Here is how laundry costs add up and how you can save money on laundry with a few simple changes:

  • If a family of 4 will use their towels 2 times instead of just once, they will save 1 load of laundry a week!
  • If you use that same towel 3 times you’ll have a savings of 2 loads of laundry.
  • If you wear that same pair of jeans 2 times you will save 1 load of laundry.
  • If you wear that same pair of jeans 3 times you will save 2 loads of laundry.

With just those two changes in your habits you could save money on laundry and wash 4 less loads per week. Just imagine the savings of time and money if you added to that wearing the same pajamas and tips more than once.

That would save 208 loads of laundry per year, which means not having to stick an extra 208 loads in the washer, add soap and softener, place in the dryer, fold, iron and put them away. Imagine what you’d do with all of the free time you didn’t have before!

Not only will you save money on laundry and save time, but you will save money not having to replace your clothes as often. Every time you wash a clothing item, it gets worn out and faded a little more. Washing them less when they’re not dirty will make them last longer.

Washing clothes has become so much easier than it was years ago and it has made us become “wasteful” with our laundry. I remember, when I was young, we would come home from school or church and change into our “play” clothes so that our good clothes would stay clean longer. We would wear the same play clothes over and over. Even if they had a little dirt on them it didn’t matter because we were heading outside to put more dirt on them anyway. After 3-4 days, we would get clean ones. Guess what? I didn’t die of anything and my mom had more free time.

The strange thing is that we were always much neater and better dressed back then when we left the house, even to go to the grocery store (more so than 95% of the people I see out and about now). Go figure.

One other way to save money on laundry:

Measure, measure, measure. Don’t just pour your detergent or fabric softener in the washer. Measure it. I usually use only half of the recommended amount. Don’t mess with diluting it down just pour half the amount.

If you only try these few tips, I think you will be pleasantly surprised about how much money and time you save on laundry.



Photo By: Maegan Tintari


  1. Gerri says

    I’m 110% with you Jill. Who wants to spend their life washing clothes? Socks & underwear are the only clothing items that get worn once. We try to wear everything else twice before putting it in the wash. As for towels I wash once a week. Yes, I did say once a week. Are you not clean when you get out of the shower? Hang your towel up when your done and they won’t smell or look dirty. In the summer months I do wash the towels twice a week and hang to dry outside. We are family of four. I wash a max of 5 loads per week- whites, colours, darks, work clothes & towels.

  2. jill says

    i agree to every thing you said Gerri. When there were 4 of us here I did the same only 5 loads. Of course some times in the summer we would have to change more often when working outside or if I had babies or company but most of the time it was only 5 loads.


  3. says

    I’m honestly shocked by people/families that only use their towel once. That seems insane to me. I do mine once a week. That’s when my mom always did them too. I also have always worn my jeans more than once. I work in an infant room at a daycare so my shirts are only worn once due to all the the snot and spit up and stuff. But when they get my jeans I found a marvelous stain remover: baby wipes. Works wonders.

  4. jill says

    Julie that is another thing I forgot to mention – spot cleaning. I always did spot cleaning when I could to save washing something.

    For those of you who don’t know, spot cleaning is when you get just a drop of something on your clothes you wipe it off so you don’t have to wash the whole thing. I usually just try a dishrag with a little soap but if it is a harder stain baby wipes are great like Julie said especially if you are in the car or away from home.


  5. says

    I remember those old days! We used to have to change into play clothes after school too…. My mother used to say that in her childhood, she only had three outfits for regular wear. It was described like this:

    “One in the drawer…
    One in the wash…
    and One on your back”

    I love doing laundry. I love the smell of fresh, clean clothes. I enjoy hanging them on the clothesline, folding them and putting them away.
    We currently have four children still at home with us and I only do a few loads of laundry a week. Towels always get hung back up after use to dry. Then we re-use them over and over again.
    Mrs. White

  6. Susan says

    I agree with you 100%. I only wash twice a week and sometimes just once a week. I refuse to be a slave to laundry not to mention a high water bill! There is nothing wrong with using your towel more than once. you are clean when you step out of the shower,just hang it up! what people fail to realize is washing clothes too often breaks down the fibers in the clothes not to mention the wear and tear on the zippers etc and that is why they look worn out after a while!

  7. says

    Wonderful post! We hang up our bath towels after each use and wash them once a week. The kids hang up their beach towels and bathing suits after getting out of the pool each day. I do laundry 2 days per week (usually). Monday and Thursday. If its not in the wash, then it waits till the next laundry day. We have 3 children still at home and they help with the laundry, including hanging it on the line. The older 4 children do their own and can’t do it on Monday or Thursday. The kids are in charge of washing the bed sheets every Friday and hanging them up and re-making the beds.

  8. rose says

    here i only do laundry at least once a week, sometimes twice a week… and yes, we wear our shorts/pants more than once… the only thing we also change daily is undie and socks (of course!)… towels, i normally wash them when i get a huge load of them (we have lots of towels) and yes we use them more than once!.. same thing with the sheets… i wait until i have a huge pile and then do them… (we have lots of sheets too)…
    since i dont have a dryer, i hang my clothes out and that is fine with me… bc i live in fl, and with this summer heat, the clothes are dried asap… when we did have a dryer our electric bill was sooooo high (we also have a/c but without the dryer, our electric bill is much much lower)…
    my son wants a dryer and my husband says, if he wants one then he can pay the extra difference in the electric bill … or he can let the sun dry his clothes… my son hasnt mentioned it anymore…
    also, speaking of laundry, after my several fiasco’s on homemade detergent, i finally got a box of country save detergent (its at the local health food store) and its good for the environment and septics… its a bit pricey… but you dont use much … i have had this box for a month now and i have a bit over a 1/4 left (and yes i did alot of laundry this month bc when i used the homemade stuff, i didnt feel our clothes were clean enuff… and some things, i washed twice (like my son’s clothes, he is so rough on them and being a teenager, well, you know)… and yes, this soap is wonderful… its for the new HE machines but since i dont have one of those but i have a very old septic tank and this doesnt make a lot of suds (actually there are no suds at all)…
    thought i would share this with everyone…
    also, my friend goes to sam’s club, and gets their brand of powdered soap for like $5 soemthing (its in the bucket, thats the one she gets)… and says its really great too… not sure bc i havent tried it..
    i hope all is well with you jill and family… we are fine here… so very hot here, its horrible… the dogs go out for a few mins and then come in for a while and out again for a bit and then bag in again … in and out… all day long… but its sooooo hot out there, they will get heat stroke … hehehee… and yes, when they come in, they have a fan on them… hehee.. spoiled? yes but they are our babies… 😀 …
    well, i will write again soon… hope all is well…
    keep nice and cool…
    rose 😀

  9. Melissa says

    I’ve often pondered, if you get out of the shower clean, (big IF, I have seen the boys get out still dirty) the towel should still be clean. Right?!?

    With four kids we don’t have many places to put wet towels; here are my solutions depending on season/weather: (since they take showers mostly at night, the clothesline won’t normally work)

    1. dining room chairs, overhead fan on if needed
    2. basement; we installed a clothes line
    3. the kids’ room, installed towel rack under loft beds (this is my favorite, out of sight)

    • Roni Winters says


      There are 7 of us in my house. I had the same issue about where to leave towels. I went to Wal-Mart and bought a cheap coat rack and placed it in the corner. Everyone has their own peg, that way they know whose towel is whose. I am also thinking of color coding kid and towels….LOL

  10. Billie says

    I’ve been trying to line dry clothes as much as possible and see how long I can go without doing a load in the dryer this summer. :-) I love line drying…but it seems that when you have to go through the effort of hanging, pinning and taking down an item of clothing…that I want to make sure I wear it enough to “justify” washing it. So, an added benefit of this is less clothing to wash.

  11. Rachel says

    It’s always amazing to me that when I do laundry, then fold and stack, I have the shortest stack. My husbands is always the largest. When he was on vacation a couple of weeks ago, I had 7 t-shirts of his in a load, and it had only be three days since I had last done laundry. I asked him how can this be, but he had no idea! I always wear my pajamas twice, and use my towel several times.

  12. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    Mom had five kids and raised us on the “one to wash, one to wear and one to spare” philosophy. That way clothes are taken care of, there aren’t enough to risk dropping, dirt and damage on the floor, and the house is less cluttered. When I was mothering I bought each child a towel in their names color: Brian-blue, Rich-red. This taught they to hang them up to dry or to use a damp or stinky towel. (They would tuck the ends of the towels under the top bunk to hang down across the bottom bunk opening.) Rich wouldn’t dare take Brian’s towe, and Brian would dare leave it on the bathroom floor or they would have to face the wrath of Grizzly Bear Mom! It also ensured that a clean dry towel was left over for me! As a professional I hang up my dress clothing on the shower rail to dry and use again if possible. I also hang all my casual clothes too, to try to wear them again. Drying out the clothes this way prevents the hamper from being humid and stinky.

  13. Dee says

    I’m also one of five siblings and wore school uniforms (3 uniforms per year). So play clothes were always the norm after school. Now the “play” clothes have become “home alone” clothes. The uniforms have become leave the house clothes, and if worn for only a few hours and not soiled, they go back on the hanger turned inside out, and I wear them again. I also stick to black, blue, or denim pants/shorts, so they can all be washed together when I have a full load. I hang towels to dry and re-use. I don’t go out much so even adding Mom’s laundry which I pick up from the nursing home and add to mine, I do 6-7 loads a month.

  14. Tami Tietsort says

    I love re using towels, it makes me feel so thrifty and environmentally conscious, but my husband doesn’t see it that way so since I shower every other day as I do no hard physical work I figure I save water and towels doubly by going every other and my skin and hair are not dried out as before, I will also re-use my husbands, hey I figure we live together and sleep in the bed right?! and he is also really clean after a shower. Also I do hang laundry outside now on a line but on rainy days and winter I clothes pin the towels/jeans/wash cloths/socks/undies etc to hangars and simply hang the damp shirts as normally they hang in closet anyhow, then put as many as I can on shower rod to dry,the rest go on the ledge above the doors and the treadmill (it is used only for this purpose!) They dry pretty fast with a/c going and in winter with furnace heat.

    • chris says

      That’s fine to share towels, but make sure you don’t if they have something like athlete’s foot or jock itch, or if youhave something like interigo or candida skin problems. As sharing towels can spread these.

      • says

        The main thing about family members or spouses sharing is that you live in the same house kissing, hugging, eating after each other and sharing the same bathroom that sharing a towel between spouses or little children is not going to be a whole lot different. We all know to try and isolate the member who has something as much as possible. I figured that was just common sense.

  15. Cynthia says

    When I was still living at home with 3 siblings, my mother instituted the one towel a week system. We were allowed a clean washcloth each day, as we were teenagers with skin issues. This reduced my mom’s work load tremendously. When I married, I continued the tradition, even while raising our 2 children. It just makes sense. I will also use kitchen towels for a couple days before laundering, unless it hits the floor, and then it goes to the laundry.

  16. says

    Can you answer my life long question? I would love to hang my towels out to dry, however even with fabric softener the towels are stiff (hard). I refuse to take them down and put in dryer for 5-10 min to fluff, any other ideas? My family hates crunchy towels!

    • Fay says

      You know “crunchy” towels dry you better. They are “crunchy” because all of the moisture is gone. Also they will soften up after 1-2 uses. You can do what I do. I wrap my hair in it and then dry the rest of me. It is so crunchy that it still dries me completely. Line dry are waaay dryer than machine dried towels. Also hang them in the bath roonm & let the shower steam soften them.

      • Colleen says

        If your towels are very crunchy then you are not snapping them correctly before you hang them. google the correct way to hang laundry and you will find several videos demonstrating the correct method. they should not be stiff at all after they have been used once and they should never be crunchy enough to poke.

        • says

          Here is a video we made on that very subject from youtube. How to Hang Clothes on a Clothesline It shows you how to snap them and to hang them up right so they will dry quicker and with less wrinkles. Also we have a really good Laundry book that gives you every little detail on laundry from how to get your family to put the clothes in the hamper to realizing the job isn’t finished until the clothes are put away. It is really jam packed with all kinds of answers on laundry.

  17. says

    To Marilyn: Baking soda sort of acts as a natural water softener. As my mom says, it makes the water wetter. I have really hard water and no water softener since I live in a rental. So I add baking soda in the wash before I put my clothes in. I also hear vinegar in the rinse cycle acts as a softener too. Even if you don’t have hard water, they act as fabric softeners too.

  18. jill says

    Mailyn, I don’t blame you for not wanting to bring them in off of the line and then fluff them. What I do is load them straight from the washer to the drying and turn them on. I put in my second load of laundry and by the time that is done I pull the first load out into my basket and they have usually been fluffed enough.

    In other words I fluff before I hang them not after.
    Also I don’t have a dryer to fluff them in now so I give them one or two good snaps or shakes before I hang them and that amazingly helps.


  19. Debra says

    I was brought up on a ranch and by a very thrifty mom. We were allowed to use one towel for one week unless it was starting to smell, usually because we did not hang it up correctly to dry. When I got married right out of high school my (late) husband did not think you should use a towel or wear clothes more then one day because “you could make yourself sick” and of course he did not do the laundry. Fast foward to present day and 2nd husband…..thank God he is a very thrifty husband (sometimes a bit over the edge in the thrifty department lol) we are back to the basics family again!!! We use our towels for at least one week or till they start to smell, wash rags and undewear are used only once time and our outer clothing is worn at least 2 times before going for a wash. My husband is a long distance trucker and may be gone for a couple of weeks at a time. When he comes home I usually have one load of jeans (6 will fit in my washer) and his shirts go in with the rest of the outerclothing to make one load for me to do. We have enough under clothing to last us at least one month (this took time to build up) so for the two of us I wash jeans about every week because I am a rancher and wear jeans at least 2 times, other outer clothing (shirts, shorts, etc) is a load about every 2 weeks, bleach load 1 load per month, towels about every 2 weeks (lots of washrags very few towels)and bedding washed weekly. I hang out all of my clothing and since my husband and I love heavly starched clothing I do a hot homemade starch before drying on the line and everything that is outerclothing is pressed not only so that we look better we also know that it makes you cooler in the hot Texas weather. Because of my thrifty ways (make our own laundry soap, can all veggies and meat we eat, grow our own LARGE garden and use an old fashion wringer washer to starch our clothing) our children laugh and say we are either living in the 1800’s or Amish lol. We all laugh together….them at us and my husbad and I when we do not have to spend the money each month on small things like electricity, clothing, “modern” things lol

  20. Lori says

    i asked Jill about the fluff the towel thing too a whole ago and having been putting my towels in the dryer first b4 I hang them out every since – it does work really well. I was so pleased and it is much easier than remembering to take them down in time at the end. i do it here in FL and now my DMIL does her towels this way in Northern BC(Canada). Thanks for the great tip and for your help with the sheets Jill. I am so much happy with those laundry dilemas.

  21. says

    Over 40 years ago someone told me to wash with cold water in the machine………….I have done it ever since and it is amazing. It is better for the machine, the electricity bill is nowhere near as expensive doing that and the clothes are clean!! I also use soap nuts for the coloured washes and have only used one lot since I bought them last year….they last for ages.
    Cold washes also don’t wear the clothes out so much and they are hardly creased. Try it.

  22. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    When clothes are stinky I found that cold water doesn’t clean them so I use hot. I also use the recommended temperature for the fabric when washing out a spot or it may not wash out and have to be rewashed at the recommended one. I only use 1/2 of the recommended detergent most of the time though. Because I rewear clothing and only wash on Saturdays (So I can fold while watching tv!) when I do get a spot I rub stain stick on it immediately and liquid detergent on it when I put it in the washer.

  23. grizzly bear mom says

    Dollar Tree (the good dollar store!) has 64 ounces of liquid detergent for $1 this week. Stock up!

    By the way, how many times can you rewear clothing before washing it? Does wearing it several times before washing eat up the fabric as in the underarms from sweat or deoderant?

    • says

      You can really only be the judge of that. If you are someone who sweats a lot or even have a job that is dirty then you of course will not be able to wear the same things over. There are many factors. Now in the summer here in Kansas with the heat and humidity I have to change tops every day but in the winter I can wear my tops more often. Jeans I don’t sweat in or dig in a garden or anything so I can wear them several times. When I had babies or grandbabies I would end up a mess with baby spit, grubby hands etc. so had to change often but as the kids got older that wasn’t a problem any more.

      I don’t think the deodorant will really eat it that bad. For one thing the wear and tear of washing and drying something probably is harder on the clothes then the deodorant is.

  24. Fay says

    Unbelievable–I was just talking about this topic to a friend. She agrees but has trouble training her husband. She has admitted to pulling his clothes from the hamper while he is at work & putting them back in the closet.
    For me DH has been on board since day 1. When 1st married we went to a coin laundry every week and hated how many quarters they eat.
    As for drying– my new home does not have lines. I bought 2 drying racks (Minky brand from Lowes have used them for 18 mos already). I do one load and hang it tween the two. If it is nice they go outside– if not–I stand them in front of my washer & dryer. Sheets are the only items I dry (king size too big to wrestle). An added bonus is that I do not use a laundry basket (but have a cute folding table outside) which means once a load is on the racks no others can be hung until they are folded & w/o the basket they must be walked to the room & put away. What a shame.
    And about those underarm stains–I use pure coconut oil for deodorant–extremely effective, is green, saves $$, no chemicals on me–and no stains. Some folks dab corn starch on powder over the coconut oil– but I do not.
    Cold water really makes a big difference. I use DIY detergent with a vinegar chaser (softener). Vinegar also combats odor causing bacteria.
    For me I have always worn items more than once. Pants 3 times and a 4th if it is yard work. Undermentionables and socks 1 time use though. Dish cloths 1 time (too much funk can build up).
    A sign that hangs in my laundry room says: No Dirty Laundry Here–Just Clothes Waiting To Be Washed.

  25. getforfree says

    I like the idea of washing less clothes. I think it’s more economical than other ideas like using less detergent and other things like that.

    We wear our clothes until they are very very dirty. I wear my home/everyday clothes for at least a week unless I got a really visible stain somewhere. My kids the same. They can wear the same clothes to school for almost a week. When they get home I make them change into home clothes and look at their clothes if they need to be washed. If they have no visible stains and don’t smell, they are good to wear again.

    So when I do my laundry, it is ver dirty. I have to use hot water for light color and warm for darks. I presoak my light laundry for at least 30 min. I have an old washer that I can stop any time. So I put the clothes in, let it wash for about 7 minutes, then stop, and then come back later to turn it back on. I also use an extra rinse. We have our own well, so cold water is almost free. I also wash my cleaning rags with my light laundry.

    Most weeks I only do 2 loads a week for a family of 5. As for the bedding, I have 2 beds with dark color sheets, and 2 with light color, so even when I wash sheets (not comforters) they don’t take much space.

    I dry my laundry outside most of the time. In a really bad weather, I hang a long rope in the middle of my living-dining area. It doesn’t completly get dry, but even if it’s halfway dry and I use less of my dryer, it’s still a saving.

  26. Penny S says

    How much vinegar should I use in the rinse water to help make my clothes be softer and not so crinkley when they are line dried?

  27. Carol says

    My fiancé needed new bath towels desperately. We went to JCPenney one day and they had some on sale. I proceeded to get some all of the same color but he said no and we picked out 6 of different colors. His reasoning was then each person in the house knows whose towel is whose. I thought this was a great idea. Some of us women want to be all matchy matchy but men can be practical at times. On another note, he used to wash his blue jeans after one wear. Since Levis are expensive and his were only fading after so long, not wearing out, we would re-dye them every few weeks. Unfortunately, he washed them in warm or hot water and they would fade again before long. So I think I’ve convinced him to wash them on cold only, and he’s getting 2 days wear out of each pair now and he has less loads of laundry to do each week. I’m still working on getting him to separate colors from whites, though!

  28. Ronda says

    Mine sons are 21 and 23 and have always used their towel all week and hung to dry. When little they had good and play clothes and shoes. When good clothes/shoes became worn they then became play. Hubby still uses this for his work shoes as well. Has saved me alot of money and time because everyone has always worn things more than once. I only do laundry once a week. Sometimes I can stretch it to 10 days.

  29. Amy Rose says

    I need to buy the machines that wash and dry in the same machine…I think they are $1300 each but if you buy 2 you will be saving so much time 😉

  30. Terri Yeary says

    We’ve had as many as 11 children living at home at one time (some foster children). My solution to towels, each person was “issued” 2 towels of their own individual color which were washed once each week. It eliminated the concern of using the towel someone else dried their hiney on (YUCK!) and almost equally important, we never had to ask which kid left their towel in the floor.-lol

  31. Stacy says

    We used to wash towels once or twice a week cause my husband & stepson never wanted to hang them up to be reused. A couple of years ago I told them we were going to start reusing them since it didn’t pay to use them once and have to wash them (we were going thru all 10 of our towels every 3 days). Now the 3 of us use the same towel for at least a week (sometimes 2 weeks if I’m the only 1 to use it) before it goes into the wash. The only problem we have is that we don’t have our own washer or dryer so we have to go to the Laundromat to do our clothes. The rest of our clothes we wear at least twice before they go in the wash except for my husbands. When he works during the summer he may wear the same pair of pants all week depending on what they’re doing. Breaking out concrete or trenching is all week, pouring concrete maybe twice, tarring they have to go in the trash since there is no way to get the tar out of his clothes (we tried).

  32. Christy Gentle says

    I have a question for you, Jill. My girls are aged 9, 11 and 15. I find that their arm pits on their school shirts smell with BO after just 1 day of wearing it at school. The two older children do have arm pit hair, which they wax/shave, and they use natural deodorant (no aluminium). At times, when their BO was particularly noticeable, we have applied vinegar to their arm pits because we heard that this kills bacteria that causes body odour. The vinegar definitely works. But normally the deodorant is enough.
    With regards to laundry, I don’t wash their shirts every day, because I don’t want to wear the material out. I was wondering if you have any other tips for dealing with smelly arm pits in polo shirts? It is a knitted cloth material. I wonder if I could spot clean just the arm pits and hang up overnight to dry?

    • says

      I usually recommend wearing clothes more then once but that is if they aren’t dirty or smelly. With men and teens they usually need to change their shirts each day. If you are worried about wear on the fabric what you might do is air dry them because the dryer does most of the damage to the fabric and not the washing machine. Here though are a few things you might try:

      Try having the girls swab their arm pits with witch hazel before they put on their deodorant.
      For the shirts themselves scrub the arm pit area with any of these things Suave clarifying shampoo or some kind of body wash (these are made especially to clean human body oils and smells, if it is a make up stain use the cleanser you would use to remove make up etc.), a paste of Fels Naptha soap or baking soda.

      Now what I do for all my clothes is for a week or two I run my clothes through a normal wash cycle, then rewash them with no soap but only some vinegar and Borax and finish off with an extra rinse with nothing but water. I don’t do this every time I do laundry but for about 2 weeks because in that 2 week period I will have probably washed all of the clothes and linens we use. Then go for 3-4 months or until I notice the clothes smelling before I do this again. This helps get rid of the heavy detergent and other build up on the clothes.

  33. Savana says

    As a family of 6 back in the day, yes we had school clothes and play clothes.
    Towels were hung up to be reused after baths and showers. Pj’s were worn over again, and still are, not like we are getting dirty in them.
    And to help us save money and time we invested in 2 Front loading washers and 3 dryers. I still use them today.
    The way I figure it in the summer, not running the dryers pays for me to be able to afford running the central air.
    I hang up laundry in my basement in the winter as much as possible too.

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