Laundry can be a daunting, sometimes expensive task. Follow these steps and learn how to decrease the cost of laundry for you and your family.

Things You Will Need

Dirty Clothes
Liquid Dish Soap
Laundry Soap (hint learn how to make your own below!)
Washing Machine
Dryer or Clothesline

Step 1

Follow The Rules
Always read the care instructions on your clothing. Following the proper care is important in the long run to keep your clothes looking their best. Make what you have last and you won't have to replace your wardrobe as frequently.

Step 2

Reduce Number of Loads
If you can reduce the number of loads of laundry you have to do each week, you will save money! Washing your clothes in cold water is one change you can make to save on energy. When you wash with cold water, the likelihood that colors will run or transfer to other clothes decreases. This means that you can mix your whites and colors into one load! Try it with your underwear and towels and see what I mean! Washing like-fabrics together is the best way to reduce load size and also be able to maintain proper care of your clothes.

Step 3

Know Your Washing Machine
If your washing machine has a setting for load size, use it! You want your clothes to be able to move freely in the water so they get clean, but that does not mean that you have to fill the entire machine for each load. Get used to changing the load size for smaller loads and you'll save on your water bill. You will also save time because the washing machine will not take as long to fill with water if it is set to a smaller load size.

Step 4

Pre-Treat Stains
Pre-treating stains can be an important step in your laundry process - especially if you have kids that like to roll around in the grass! But you don't have to buy those expensive pre-treaters that have lots of chemicals in them. I use a small dab of liquid dish soap - it will take care of oil-based stains that are often difficult to remove. If you feel up to it, you can make your own pre-treatment with normal house-hold products.

Step 5

Use Inexpensive Laundry Detergent
Laundry detergent is another item that can really make your grocery bills sky rocket. You can make your own laundry detergent - and it's cheap & easy! Read how at The Simple Dollar. This article details how much money you can save by making your own detergent. I have been doing this for 3 years now and my clothes are cleaner than ever!

Step 6

Skip the Expensive Fabric Softener
Another laundry product that is rather expensive is fabric softener. Whether you use sheets or liquid, they are still expensive and some people are even allergic to them. Using vinegar in the rinse cycle instead of softener works just as well and the cost is negligible! Just use white vinegar in your fabric softener dispenser (or, you can use a Downy Ball) and I bet you will not notice the difference. Your clothes will NOT smell like vinegar!

Step 7

Hang it Out
Now that your clothes are nice and clean, it's time to dry them! If you can air-dry your clothing on a rack or a clothes line, you will save a lot of energy that would be put into running the dryer. However, it is not always possible in some climates that are frequently cold, rainy, or humid. I have had good luck air drying my delicate clothing in our spare bathroom.

Step 8

Cut Down on Drying
It is possible to over-dry your clothing! The more moisture that you take out of the fabric, the more likely your clothes are going to be wrinkled and full of static - no amount of softening agent can combat over-dried clothing. Set your dryer for the lowest amount of time and when it is finished, check for dampness. If they are dry, take them out! If they are still damp, put them back for another 10-15 minutes. This will help to keep your dryer on for less time and save you money on your electric bill.

Not many people enjoy doing laundry, but if you follow at least a few of these steps you can improve your laundry process. You will be able to shorten the amount of time you spend doing laundry while you save energy, water, and put fewer chemicals back into the earth.

Tips & Warnings

WARNING: Do not use vinegar and bleach in the same laundry cycle - The combination of the two causes a chemical reaction that will release toxic fumes. Who needs bleach anyway?