Recently I started calling laundry "the never-ending story." I don't know about you, but my laundry piles sure feel that way. The other day, I did every piece of laundry and was just gazing in happiness at the empty hampers when my daughter walked by and threw in a pile she had forgotten about. I hope you feel my pain. I not only feel physically pained by the amount of laundry my family of four can muster up, I also feel the pain at the store when I have to buy the supplies to keep the laundry factory open. But as all KCLs know, there's savings to be had in the laundry aisles, too!

Why I use the "good stuff"

I'm the girl who invests in good, name brand clothes for my family (and yes, I do it with $40 a month), but the savings on good clothes wouldn't be worth a thing if I washed them with the cheapest detergent. For a while, I thought I was saving money by using the cheapest detergent I could find. What I was left with were good clothes that held in stains, that were pilling, shrinking, and falling apart.

Since then, I've been a loyal Tide buyer, and stock up when the prices hit KCL lows (find the list here). I can't get Tide for $1.00 a bottle most of the time, but I was able to buy a year's worth last year when it hit $2.50 a bottle!

When I made the switch to Tide, our clothes stayed nicer, colors were brighter, and they stopped pilling and shrinking. For me, it pays to use brand name products because we don’t have to replace clothes very frequently. (I know a lot of you gals love generic, so if it works for you, go for it!)

How I do my laundry

Load properly

I do my laundry twice a week, and I only do full loads. Smaller, more frequent loads were costing us more money—in both water and detergent. If someone needs something washed and it's not laundry day, I use a tiny bit of Woolite (you can score trial sizes of this sometimes with coupons), and wash it in the sink. I estimate I save about $5 a week in power/water by consolidating loads.

Tip: Remember that too full loads can also ruin clothes by excess friction and wear on the washer, so never load above the agitator (for top loaders), and for front loaders, don't load past the last row of holes in the drum.

Wash less frequently

I make my kids re-wear things like pajamas or tops, if they’re not soiled or damp. Sometimes my kids change out of their PJs and they’re still totally clean. If that happens, I just fold them nicely and they wear them again. I also don't wash our towels every day…I try to get at least two uses from bath towels to save the washing and the wear and tear on the linens.

Measure carefully

I measure my detergent. I used to just eyeball the amount and sort of splash it in, until I realized that I was wasting a good amount of detergent. Now I actually use the measuring cup

Tip: Throw that detergent cup in with your loads! This keeps it from getting sticky, and you get every last drop of detergent out. Just don't put it in the dryer!

Set limits

I limit my kids’ wardrobes. I love to shop, and I love buying my girls the cutest, coordinating outfits. But if I let my toddler choose, she would change outfits every hour, and when those get mixed in with the laundry, it's hard to tell what is actually clean or dirty. I lay out a few options and let her choose, and then the clothes are "off limits" for most of the day.

Use the spin cycle more than once

My spin cycle is my best friend! I spin my clothes 2-3 times after they wash—particularly jeans, bed sheets and heavy sweatshirts. This wrings all the water out and helps my dryer work less. If I only spin the load once, I’ll have to run the dryer for two cycles (one and a half hours). At approximately $0.40 a load (of electricity), I save $0.40 by only running it once. I also hang dry delicates and items that don't need to be dried.

Pre-treat

I use cold water for loads that are not heavily soiled, and I pre-treat with OxiClean laundry spray to get the stains out beforehand (it takes out blood, baby spit-up, wine, and even permanent marker). A bottle of OxiClean spray is $3.34 at our Target and lasts two months. Some research shows that it can cost as much as $0.64 a load for hot water and just $0.04 a load for cold! You can pay for that bottle of OxiClean in just over six loads and still save the hot water costs.

Where I buy detergent

Target

I love Target and buy the majority of my detergent there. When I have manufacturer coupons and combine them with Cartwheel and store coupons, I can usually get my beloved Tide for around $5.00 a jug (for about 50 ounces). When I can, I buy Tide Pods, because the pre-measured amounts keep me from using too much liquid detergent.

Secondhand stores
One really odd place to look for detergent is Goodwill and yard sales. I know it sounds funny, but there seems to be abundant amounts of laundry items—some opened or partially used—at secondhand stores. Scratch and dent outlets are also great places to look. I've found opened and re-sealed dryer sheets for just $1.00 at these places.

Amazon Prime Pantry

My new, amazing, happy place for laundry supplies is Amazon Prime Pantry. I’ve had Amazon Prime for ages but just discovered Amazon Pantry! Some of the items are very high priced for detergent. Tide Pods are $15.00 in the pantry, versus $17.99 at Target, but at Target, I can use coupons. However, they have this twin-pack of Tide High Efficiency for just $9.94. It's not rock-bottom, but that price is comparable to coupon prices, and I don't have to leave my house! Now, the pantry has a flat fee of $5.99 for shipping, but lately, if you buy three selected items, the shipping is free. And Tide was included in the last promotion!

Safeway

If you have a local Safeway chain, check there often for their $5 Friday promotions. Often they'll have Snuggle, Bounce, or Tide on sale on Fridays, and that's a great time to stock up.

This is a post from Grace A. of Medford, Oregon.

Laundry: The Never-Ending Story