On saving money washing clothes and using hot or cold water

It’s amazing to think how much money I’ve wasted in the past just on laundry and washing my clothes. After I wore a shirt or pants, off they went straight into the laundry basket. I was more sensible with towels at least, or so I thought, I would use them a couple times before cleaning them. After I amassed enough clothes for a couple of loads, I would head on downstairs, separate my clothes into dark, white, and colors, and wash them with hot, cold, and warm water respectively. I would fill the cup of detergent to the top and pour it in the washer while the water was filling, then deposit my clothes. What I didn’t realize was I was wasting a ton of money. Below, I will discuss how often you should really be washing your clothes, how much detergent you should really be using, and last, I’ll show you the only appropriate time to use hot water, regardless of the clothes color or lack thereof. If you’re not doing this already, this post is going to save you hard cash to spend on better things all while helping out the environment (if that’s your thing).

So how often do you really need to wash your clothes? The answer is certainly not after every wear. Not only will you shorten the life of your clothes putting them through that abusive washing machine, you will waste extra money on detergent, and water (and heating that water if necessary). The answer is when they look and or smell dirty. Different clothes will need different attention. For example, my business shirts are typically only washed after 2 to 3 uses, sometimes 4 to 5. The same thing is true for slacks, pants, jeans (these can last up to 10 wears or more in some cases). Keep in mind, I work in an office and I stay relatively clean, don’t sweat, and eat over my plate. Quite often I will wear business socks two to three times before washing. Now my gym clothes and undies don’t make it that long, I typically wash underwear after only one use, and gym shirts and shorts, depending on how sweaty the work out is, are washed after only one use. Towels are washed after a minimum of three uses (your body is clean after all, as long as the towel is properly hung to dry immediately following the shower, it will be perfect to use the next day). I will make exceptions for clothes that I get grease on or that get food stains and wash them immediately or use the detergent sticks to clean them (I will talk about this more below). The key here, use your nose to smell and eyes to see if the clothes really are dirty before you wash them. Some people whom sweat more heavily and or have other issues may need to wash more or less frequently than I do.

So how much detergent should you use? Many people think that more soap is better, when the opposite is more likely true. In general, half of the cap is max. If you’re using more than that, you’re wasting money and going to cause mechanical failures in your washing machine, especially if you have a new fangled high efficiency washing machine.The soap makers unintentionally (or I think intentionally) make lines on the caps hard to decipher, causing most people to fill to the top of the cap. Too much soap can damage your clothes and cause mold problems and skin irritation or worse. Plant Green, by Discovery, has some very good tips on laundry detergent use:

Tips and Tricks to Use Less Laundry Detergent

  1. Use the amount of laundry detergent recommended for a light load of laundry when you’re doing a full or even a heavy load.
  2. Half is max. Do not use more than half the maximum recommended amount, even with heavily soiled loads.
  3. Mark the cap. The recommended use lines are sometimes hard to read. Using a black permanent marker, draw a line at the halfway mark and you’ll always be able to see how much you should use.

On using hot water, medium, or cold water: You should use cold on everything expect for filthy dirty soiled, greasy clothes. Forget the using hot on white clothes, let the cleaners do their job, hot water should be used sparingly, it’s really only going to help get out dirt and other bodily funk if it’s there, don’t waste money on hot if it’s not. With regards to clothes drying, use racks if possible, an electric or gas dryer if that’s not plausible.

Hope this helps!

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