Stretching Your Cents: Dirty Laundry

I'm back with some money-saving tips!

In previous Stretching Cents I've covered how to save money buying groceries, reduce your bills, get free stuff, reduce the cost of household cleaners, have cheap date nights, saving via substitutes, and even allow yourself the psychological freedom of impulse buys.

Today I want to talk about laundry. It's a necessary evil, which can lead to mounting energy and detergent costs (even if you make your own detergent). What's a clean person to do?

+ Wash your clothes less often.
I used to work at a costume rental company, and there I learned that washing your clothes actively rips them to shreds. The gyration motion, the harsh chemicals in cleansers, the hot temps all add up to reducing the lifetime of every piece of clothing you own. Although you want to wash underwear and socks after 1 use (because of bacteria), there are several things (like jeans) that you can wear several times before washing (assuming you haven't spilled something on them). Be judicious in your determining of what needs a washing, and what can be worn again without anyone being the wiser for it.

Hand wash your clothes.
This is for the truly badass among you, primarily because it takes time. There are hand-powered clothes washers out there, which resemble a large salad spinner or butter churn. But you can also wash a few pieces at a time in your sink, using a gentle cleanser and a sinkful of cold water. Gyrate the clothing (no scrubbing needed unless you're trying to remove a stain), let soak a few minutes, then rinse completely and let dry. Theoretically, you can hand wash all of your clothing....just a little bit at a time (like the dishes, this would be 10-20 minutes if done every day).

Invest in a clothes drying rack/line.
Your dryer actually damages clothes by wearing them down faster (even on low-heat settings), and uses a lot of electricity to do so. Dry clothing on a line or rack, outside in the sunshine or inside in inclement weather (especially nice to dry them near your furnace or woodstove, which suck moisture out of the air, to get a humidifier affect). This will save your clothes and save you money on electricity!

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