On the fun meter, doing laundry is right up there with, say, washing your car or vacuuming.

To add insult to injury, the ho-hum chore also costs money. But you don't have to spend a fortune on energy and cleaning agents.

Here are five easy ways to get your clothes clean for less:

Wash in Cold Water

Washing your laundry in cold water will save you on the energy it costs to heat the water, which averages $60 a year nationwide, Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman, deputy home editor of Consumer Reports, tells DailyFinance.

The key here is to use cold-water detergents, such as 2X Ultra Tide Coldwater, she says. Many of those detergents "did a good job of getting laundry clean" in Consumer Reports tests, she says.

Even if a clothing label calls for a warm-water wash, "it's fine to wash the item in cold water with a cold-water detergent," she says.

Line Dry

"What may surprise many people is that drying your clothes is the more expensive part of doing the laundry, from an energy standpoint," Kuperszmid Lehman says.

So line dry everything, from your clothes to your bed sheets, whenever possible.

If you want to avoid that crunchy feel that towels, for one, can get when line dried, just pop them in the dryer for a short time to soften them up, Kuperszmid Lehman says.

Use Store-Brand Detergents

They've come a long way, baby. Store brands, that is.

Several of the private-label laundry detergents are "every bit as effective as national brands" and cost $5 less for a typical 100-ounce package, says Robert Shelton, a retail and consumer packaged-goods consultant who recently served as senior vice president and general manager of nonfoods for Safeway, the supermarket chain.

Costco's Kirkland and Safeway's Ultra laundry detergent are two store brands with formulas that closely match national brands, he says.

Who knows? You might never go back to that expensive national detergent.

"Statistics show that half of consumers who try private label continue to purchase the private label product," Shelton says.

Don't Overdose

Chances are you're throwing money down the drain by pouring excess detergent on your wash.

"Overdosing is a manufacturer trick to try to get you to use up your bottle faster," Shelton says. "The cap they give you is designed to make you overdose.

"Here is the big, 'aha': The fill line is twice the amount of detergent you need to clean effectively," he says. "Fill your cap up halfway to the fill line and your detergent will last twice as long."

Buy an Energy Efficient Washer

If your washer goes kaput, make sure to replace it with an energy-efficient model that will use less energy and less water, which will save you money over time.

Look for models marked with the Energy Star label, but don't stop there.

Compare the yellow EnergyGuide labels on the different machines, which estimate how much it will cost to run the washer over the course of a year, based on national averages, Kuperszmid Lehrman says. "There are variations between different Energy Star-rated products."

By definition, front-load washers are energy efficient. The Kenmore 4027, for one, got Consumer Reports' Best Buy rating. "It's a high-efficiency washer that did well in our tests," she says. "It's excellent for cleaning and energy efficiency."

And don't waste money on a new dryer just because your washer dies. That's a common, money-wasting mistake consumers make just to have a matching set, she says.

As a general proposition, dryers tend to outlive washers. What's more, while washers have become more energy efficient, dryers have not, which is why none of them carry the Energy Star label, she says.


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Kathleen

I live in an area of SW Ohio where we are still permitted to hang out laundry. I had wanted to move to a smaller new home, but will stay here until the Home Owners Associations permit me to hang out laundry. I guess I will be here forever as all new housing developments in my area for the last 15 years will not allow the residents to hang out laundry.
It began with the HOA's fpr condominumiums and patio homes and has now spread to all new housing developments. A recent inquiry to a housing developer in my areas states that"while fresh veggies from the garden are very nice, niether laundry or a garden are permitted." These houses are on private lots!!!!

Why is it that people are giving up all their private property rights to HOA's?!!!!! I don't understand this. Are we all turning into sheep? These things are GOOD for the planet, but I think these HOA's look down their noses on people who have gardens or hang out thier laundry.... you know...not quite upper class enough to be in the neighboorhood. The implication is that low class and "the poor" do these things. They are the ignorant ones as both of those endevors are the healthiest things they could do for themselves...I am saying this as a degreed health care professional.

I understand that the enviromentalist wackoos are suing HOA's and condo estabilsments in some states, for the right to hang out laundry b/c it "saves the planet". While I disagree with their cause, I think that indivuals shlould have the right to behave in reasonable ways on their OWN property. The HOA's attitude is if you don't like our rules(set up by a few residents), live eslewhere. The sheep there, go aong with that attitude. Cities and counties already have rules in place to police people who allow their properties to deteriate. That is ALL that is needed!!!

August 16 2011 at 6:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David

DO NOT go to cold water and then think you are saving money by buying Tide Coldwater. Tide is extremely expensive and you will lose any savings you may think you will be getting by doing this. Somebody needs to check all their facts out before giving advice in an article.

August 16 2011 at 4:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rick.sawyer

Why would someone have to be told this?

August 16 2011 at 2:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rick.sawyer's comment
Setanta

LOL !!!!!!!!!! why the H is this still "up" and running ????? day 3 now ! business news is tis slooooow /

August 16 2011 at 3:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
weiapensit

Save about 250 in energy cost and time by adding 2-3 dry towels to dryer loads. The dry towels wick away moisture from the wet load. The already dry towels dry quickly wicking additional moisture from the wet load saving significant time in the dryer and energy to run it. HAPPY LAUNDERING!!

August 16 2011 at 1:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Skeet !!

This article is right on the money. Here's another thing. There was a time when folks just hung their clothes up to 'air out'. That's what I do with clothes that aren't soiled. Third time worn they get washed. In the winter when line drying seems impossible, hang them anyway. Mom used to 'freeze dry' clothes. It takes longer, but it works. Then if you must use the dryer, put six tennis balls in the dryer. Don't buy those dryer balls. Six tennis balls keep the clothes separated as they go round and round. Keep the lint collector clean. I use store brand detergent. I can remember my home ec teacher who was the county extension agent telling us, "never follow the directions, they were written by the soap company.' Even with the concentrated detergents less is best. The soap that doesn't rinse out becomes gray in dried clothes. No bleach(?) use dish washer detergent as it has bleach in it.

August 16 2011 at 11:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Helen

I HOPE THAT ED IS FINISHED WITH HIS IGNORANT, STUPID REMARKS. PERHAPS IF HE WOULD DRINK A BOTTLE OF LAUNDRY DETERGENT AND EAT A BOX OF POWDERED DETERGENT....HIS REMARKS WOULDN'T SOUND SO "CRAPPY".

August 16 2011 at 10:56 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
annyperl

Great article! You know, I have read many reviews from people who say that they spend more money on laundry services (http://www.pissedconsumer.com/consumer-reviews/dry-cleaners.html) than they have to. the thing is I also can't find a way to reduce my laundry services costs. "Don't overdose" is the best advise for me (I often use more detergent than it's needed))) . Thanks for the great article! Hope, I will start save my money!

August 16 2011 at 10:55 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mailtoami

YOU MISS THE #! WAY TO SAVE LAUNDRY BALLS, I HAVE BEEN USING THEM FOR 2 YEARS, THEY STILL WORK, ALL I DO IS PLACE THEM ON THE SUN ONCE PER MONTH, COMBINE WITH, NON CHLORINATED POWDER BLEACH AND LAUNDRY IS WHITER AND THE COLOR IS SHINNING.
WWW.ECOMARKETSTORE.COM

August 16 2011 at 9:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tony

Buy an AMERICAN made washer & dryer, don't use proctor & gamble crap. That crap is way over priced and not worth it. Matching washer & dryer ????? Any 1 that worries about that is a retard.

August 16 2011 at 12:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim Zimmerman

GO GREEN! **** QUIT BUYING AND DUMPING ALL THOSE TOXIC CHEMICALS DOWN YOUR DRAIN AND INTO OUR EARTHS WATER SUPPLY. JOIN THE "NO SUDS REVOLUTION" WASH YOUR CLOTHES IN COLD WATER AND WITHOUT DETERGENT. www.nosudsrevolution.com CHECK IT OUT .................. Jim

August 16 2011 at 12:18 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jim Zimmerman's comment
mailtoami

USE LAUNDRY BALLS, NO MORE PLASTIC ON THE ENVIRONMENT , SAVE MONEY $22.00 EACH I BOUGHT 2, 2 YEARS & THEYN STILL WORK

August 16 2011 at 9:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply