There are twin evil monsters that live in my apartment complex. Their dull metallic outer frames are only matched in ugliness and vile by their cavernous, gaping, rotating inner mouths. They demand constant sacrifices, and nevertheless things often disappear into their mouths never to be seen again.
They’re the machines in my laundromat.
Don’t believe me? I spend $720 per year, one quarter at a time, feeding the beasts. That’s 2,880 quarters that I have to ask the cashiers and bank tellers to give me. I know; I get the stink eye every time I take their backup rolls of quarters away.
Yet, all I get in return is half-washed clothes. 25% of the time, the dryers proudly present me with a warm, steamy pile of wet clothes.
There are other options for laundromats in my town, don’t get me wrong. But, they require usage of a vehicle that I often don’t have access to since we’re a one-vehicle household.
Related post: How Giving Up My Car Is Saving Me Over $2,000/Year
So, what to do? We’ve found several ways to save money on laundry costs (yep—that’s right; our laundry cost could be even higher than it is now). I’ll tell you more about them in this post.
I’m also considering some more extreme options for how to solve our laundry problem. Maybe you’ll even have a helpful suggestion?
Big People = Big Laundry
If you want to save money on laundry, then a) don’t be a big person, and/or b) don’t marry a big person.
All joking aside, it does cost more money to do laundry for a bigger person. I’m 5’4” and Zach is exactly one foot taller than me. Fully two-thirds to three-quarters of the laundry we produce each week is directly from Zach.
It used to be even worse—when Zach was working as a carpenter he’d go through enough shirts and pants to fully clothe a third-world country. Now that he’s got an office job, though, he’s much cleaner—now if only I could pull a Honey I Shrunk The Kids on him.
The Laundry Sniff Test: Use It Often And Well
I’ll let you in on a little secret: you don’t need to wash each and every piece of clothing after you’ve worn it once.
Before we throw most items in the laundry hamper, we give it a quick sniff test to see if it really does need laundering. There are a few exceptions: underwear, socks, and shirts get a free pass to the laundry hamper. Please don’t sniff your underwear.
But towels, pants, sweaters, and other items usually can go for several days before needing to be laundered. Hell, my shower towels usually last me a week or two before they need cleaning.
If you’re a habitual clothes-tosser, it can be a little unnerving to wear clothes for several days in a row. But, I promise you won’t turn into a stink bomb. Your towels will be much happier being hung up to dry rather than going through a battering wash-dry cycle after every use. Your pants will not fly off your legs in a fit of panic.
Only Wash Full Loads Of Laundry
This one is kind of obvious…you don’t need to rev up the machines to wash a single sock.
If you don’t have enough laundry to fill a full load, simply set it aside for later. Your clothes can wait. I promise you.
Use The Right Amount Of Laundry Detergent
Gone are the days when I used to simply spray laundry detergent everywhere like an out-of-control firehose.
Now, I buy my laundry detergent in bulk from Costco. I transfer the laundry detergent to a flip-top water bottle so it’s more convenient to take to the laundromat. Then, I have it timed out to a one-and-a-half-second pour to get just the right amount of detergent in the machine.
Use Cheap Dryer Sheets
What do we use dryer sheets for, anyways? To cut down on the static that occurs in the drying process.
Here in Colorado where the humidity level is half-past a pile of sun-bleached bones and a dead cactus, dryer sheets are especially important. Otherwise, I would turn into the Tesla coil man and could rent myself out to circus freak shows (note to self: new side hustle idea, perhaps?).
Since we’ve established the base function of a dryer sheet, we can now move past all the fancy shit we don’t need (*cough Bounce *cough) and buy the cheapest dryer sheet that’ll do the trick. I also get these at Costco.
If the fancy Bounce smell is important to you, though, then by all means go for it. But if it’s secondary, then skip it. As for me, my money is better spent on other things—like saving up for a down payment on a house so I don’t have to futz around with all this laundromat nonsense.
Don’t Sort Your Laundry
When I was a kid, my mom made a big production out of doing laundry. One of the biggest tasks was sorting clothes. I was assigned the lucky task of sorting everyone’s clothes into two piles: colors, and whites (composed predominately of dirty socks and tighty-whites).
I’m sorry Mom, but I’m just not gonna go through all that hassle. (Don’t tell her, but I also don’t straighten out the bunched-up socks before washing. Ain’t no one got time for that).
Sorting clothes means that you’ll likely end up with half-full loads. Unless, of course, your home is guided by supernatural accountant fairies who magically add and subtract clothes to create perfectly-full loads of both colored and white clothes each and every week. In that case, I’d like them to manage my beer stockpile too.
Sure, maybe my whites aren’t the sparkly-white bright clothes you see in the laundry commercials. My whites are a little more of the dull eggshell variety.
But hey, that’s why I try to avoid whites anyways. Even if I did meticulously sort and treat my fancy whites separately, they’d quickly be overpowered with my potent armpit stains. Pick your battles.
Buy A Portable Laundry Machine?
Most of my problems stem from the damned laundromat washer and dryer. I’m not able to get a full-size washer and dryer in my apartment, so I might as well just give up on that idea.
But what if there were a way?
Not for a full-size washer and dryer, of course. But, recently I found out about these nifty gadgets: portable laundry machines.
They’re not really portable in the sense that you can just pack one up in your suitcase and jettison off to who-knows-where. Rather, they’re portable in the same sense that hybrid vehicles cost less than big trucks. They’re still expensive (or big), but less so than their balls-to-the-wall counterparts.
For a laundry washing machine, I found this neat little machine that weighs about 25 pounds and fits into a 25” x 14” x 29” space. I’d guesstimate that it’d take twice as many runs to finish our weekly laundry than the full-size machines.
But, it takes half as much time as our current laundry routine, so overall it’d even out. The only thing I worry about is how long it’ll last. Even at $120, though, it’d pay for itself if it lasted two months.
Air Dry Your Clothes (Yes, Even If You Live In An Apartment)
Since I first wrote this post in early 2017, I actually did buy this simple cheap folding rack. Since I live in an apartment and airing out my undergarments out the window is frowned upon, this is the next-best option to an actual laundry line.
We’ve been using the folding rack for about nine months now. Each month, it saves us $25 in quarters that we don’t have to feed to the halfhearted dryers. That means we’ve already saved $225 – enough to pay for the cost of the folding rack several times over!
Plus, our clothes will last longer now that we’re not subjecting them to the equivalent of a brief trip through a windy Death Valley each week. And, even better, we don’t have to buy dryer sheets anymore. Huzzah!
Do you have any other tips to save money on laundry? Leave a comment below!