Get Organized: The very first thing I did was to get organized. That meant doing A LOT of laundry and finally catching up on the many piles I had going on (I had things that had been waiting a very long time to be washed). Then I cleaned the whole area, cleaned the machines, and got everything ready. Now it might be very far from my dream "laundry room" but for now this little nook in my basement (with old machines and random laundry baskets) will have to do.
Less Laundry To Do: Let's face it, no matter what I do there is always a lot of laundry to be done. Some days it feels like Eli goes through at least 3 outfits! The laundry pile just builds and builds. But I've started to cut back on that pile just a little bit. Now instead of just automatically throwing the days clothes in the laundry (or picking them up off the floor 2 days later and throwing it in the laundry) I am inspecting them all at the end of day to see if any of them can be worn again. And I'm not ashamed to say that we are trying to get as much wear out of our clothes as possible. So if you see one of us in the same clothes you saw us in the day before don't be alarmed, we're just trying to save money!:) And it's working- it really is cutting back on the laundry mass. In the past the kids used to wear a new pair of pajamas pretty much every night, but now most of the time I can get at least two wearings out of a pair for Eli and more for Lily. And the other day I was able to save Eli's whole outfit to be worn another day...crazy! Now that's not normal, but for that day it was great! And Joe and I are making the same effort with our clothing...and it's working!
Sorting: Okay, I confess that I really wasn't a laundry sorter before. Colors, whites...everything just got thrown in together as I grabbed it and away I went. Now I am sorting them into four baskets: whites, fleece and other lightweight fabric, items that can be washed in cold water, and items that I think need to be washed in warm water. This is helping me because...
Cold Water Works: I read that much of the cost of doing laundry comes from heating the water. Back before we had kids I did most of our laundry in cold water, but since having the little ones I sort of got in the habit of washing everything in warm water (because that seemed to help get their very messy clothes clean). But now that I am actually sorting our clothes I can determine which clothes really need to be washed in warm water and everything else (about 3 out of 4 loads) is being washed in cold water!
Homemade Detergent: And really this is where it all started for me. I was intrigued by the idea of making my own laundry detergent which got me wondering if there were other ways to save money doing laundry. So with the help of my mom I have started making my own detergent. Here's what I'm using:
2cups Washing Soda
16oz shredded laundry soap (my mom is a soap maker and I am using hers)
Mix and store in a container and use between 1-3TBSP per wash (I've been using 2 level tablespoons)
So far I am really enjoying the homemade laundry detergent. It seems to be getting our clothes clean just fine. The only problem I've been having is that when I wash in cold water it tends to leave a few little white balls on our clothes (I think it's from the laundry soap). It all seems to shake off in the dryer just fine so I don't think it's too much of a problem, but I'm trying to figure out how to solve it (so I get the most out of my homemade detergent rather than leaving little bits of it on our clohtes). If any of you have any advice on this I would love to hear it.
Also, this is another, very similar, recipe I have heard that many use for homemade laundry detergent (in case your mom doesn't happen to be a soap maker):
1 bar Fels Naptha Soap- grated
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
Mix and store in a container.
Hold The Dryer: I knew that one of the biggest ways I could save a few bucks doing laundry would be to cut way back on how much I use our dryer. During the warm summer months I do hang some of our laundry to dry out on our laundry line, but the rest of the year (and even somewhat during the summer) our dyer is going full speed. I knew that had to change. And it has!!! I never really thought that I could dry laundry indoors on a line during the winter, much less in our basement, but I am!
Joe hung up a few rows of hooks in our basement ceiling so that I could hang clothes to dry.