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Laundry talk – save time, water, and money

Laundry talk – save time, water, and money

I often hear people talk about how many loads of laundry they do every week, and I’m usually amazed. I’m not sure I could do 18 loads of laundry in a day if I tried, unless I put just one item of clothing in each load. I can understand it for large families, but many of the people I hear say stuff like that are either couples or single!

We typically do two or three loads of laundry once a month, plus my son does about one load a week. So that’s a maximum of 7 loads a month for a family of three. My son does a lot of laundry for two reasons: he doesn’t have that many pairs of pants (this is what happens when you can grow an inch practically overnight) and he is an active teenage boy. His clothes get dirty, so he has to wash them every time he wears them.

So how do my husband and I manage to only do two or three loads of laundry once a month? (Saving lots of time, water and energy in the process, and making our clothes last longer because they aren’t being damaged as often by the washer & dryer.)

1. We don’t have very many clothes. The total of ALL of my clothes is probably less than the number most people have for a single season, and my husband has about the same amount. But we DO have lots and lots of underwear and socks. Just over a month’s worth, as a matter of fact. So there’s no way 18 loads of laundry could possibly pile up. And a month’s worth of underwear doesn’t take up very much space.

2. We wear our (outer) clothes more than once, and are careful with them. Seriously, how dirty do clothes really get while we’re sitting in an office? They don’t. When we get home from work, we change into old, comfy clothes for lounging and hang up our old clothes after making sure they are still clean. We don’t put them into the laundry until they are actually dirty, which takes at least 3 or 4 wears, sometimes more. Same goes for towels. There is no need to wash a towel every day that’s been used to dry off clean water after showering. What are we trying to clean there?

3. We wash everything on cold, so temperature is not a factor. This saves energy AND lets us consolidate loads. Our loads are either lights and darks, or sometimes whites, darks, and coloreds. The exception is when we get something new — that item usually gets washed once by itself first before it joins the crowd, especially if it is red or very dark.

This post is probably nothing new for some people, especially if you’re European. In fact, that’s where I got the idea. While working in Germany many years ago, I noticed that my coworkers often wore the same clothes 3 or 4 days in a row. So I asked them about it (politely, I hope) and they were shocked that I would think of wasting energy by washing something that was perfectly clean. I thought they had a great point, and stopped throwing clean clothes into the laundry. Of course, I don’t wear the same clothes 3 or 4 days in a row here in America because people would probably think I was a freak, but who’s going to know that I hang them up and re-wear them if they aren’t reading this?

View Comments (12)
  • LOL, I had someone tell me how gross it was, that we didn’t wash our bath towels until they started to “funk”. My guess is these people probably are too lazy to hang them up to dry after use. My husband and I also make great use of undershirts, it keeps our “real” clothes cleaner on the inside (and we’re even guilty of rewearing those, as long as they’re not “funkin'”).

  • Yes, it’s amazing what immediately hanging up the towels to dry does as opposed to throwing them on the floor…

  • In addition to saving water, washing your clothes less also gets them to last longer. I started wearing undershirts under my business shirts when I moved in with my husband, and I’m amazed at how the longevity of my wardrobe has increased. Great ideas – thanks!

  • I don’t have a washing machine at home, so out of neccessity, I do re-wear my clothes. When I come home from work, I change out of my work clothes and into sweats or jeans. My work clothes get folded back up or neatly hung on the back of my bedroom chair. I also keep shout wipes at the office and in my car. A quick swipe at a small stain helps a lot.

    The bath towels get hung up on the towel bar, the wash clothes are rinsed out and also hung up,

    I do about one load of laundry a week since my weekend job does give me access to a washer and dryer, but the loads are small. Most of my laundry ends up being the animal bedding.

  • Great tips. We already wash with cold water only and have a high-efficiency washer. The only problem is that it’s a compact model, so we have to do more loads. We don’t have a good laundry system right now, especially for clothes worn multiple times. We don’t have much closet space for hanging things up, and if clothes end up on the floor, our dogs/cats stomp all over them and get fur on them! So our next step to reduce loads of laundry will be getting a few freestanding clothes racks. They’re not the most attractive thing to have in your bedroom, but if it reduces the amount of laundry I have to do, I’ll be happy!

  • I had no idea that people washed their towels after one use until I was a guest at a friend’s house. I only wash my one bath towel after multiple uses because I hang every towel up to dry after each use.

    I also rewear jeans several times because I too sit in an office, rewear outerwear quite often, and just swap out undershirts/camis when that’s all that’s close to my body during cold weather. Layers means lots of items can be reworn.

    My primary problem is buying new colors, reds like you mentioned, or dark blues that can’t be combined with delicate lights. I end up handwashing those guys because I’m paranoid about ruining a whole load of clothing – that’s happened more than once. :P

  • Is that why people wear the exact same thing several days in a row? I thought it had to do with convenience, etc, or because they don’t have that many clothes and it is just easier to decide what to wear for one day and then wear it two (sorta like eating leftovers from the day before.)

    :)

    I didn’t know people threw clothes after one wearing into the laundry (except for underwear and socks). The very idea is “amazing”. Why? Maybe they have maids or don’t do the laundry themselves….

  • I am with you on this, I wear everything except socks and underwear multiple times before washing. They last longer and save me money on laundry!

  • Definitely having less clothes really helps with having to do less laundry. As you said, more people equals more laundry, and so do kids that are pretty tough on their clothes. When I do laundry, which is every day, I generally wash in the hottest water the clothes can stand. This does not save money with energy bills but I find it gets the clothes cleaner and the stains out, meaning the outfit looks better for longer. I may change this strategy once my kids are older and aren’t as hard on their clothes, but it works for me now!

  • I can’t believe that anyone would wash clothes in HOT water. Cold water works great. I also hang many of my items and only use the dryer once a week. If you tumble dry clothes in a warm dryer for a few minutes and then hang them on a clothes hanger to finish drying, you lengthen the life of the clothes and the dryer will remove most or all of the wrinkles.

  • I am of the habit that if the load is small enough, we hang stuff around the house to dry on cold days, and warm weather sees full loads on the line outside. I only use hot water for super soiled, which doesn’t happen very often… it’s usually a small load. I even make the kids hang and reuse the towel they use for playing in the water during the summer.

    A little shot of fabric freshener in the evening seems to prolong a garment’s wash time a little, too. I mention in the evening, so it can air out and the scent won’t be overwhelming the next day.

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