Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Frugal Living - Wash Day Blues

I remember my mother-in-law doing wash every Monday morning with her old wringer washer. Rain, snow, sunshine - it didn't matter. If it was Monday, it was wash day!

Clothing was gathered on Sunday night and sorted so mom could begin washing at the crack of dawn on Monday morning. All of the children had to strip their beds and make sure their bedding was in the back porch mud room by the washer right after they got up.

Since she used her wringer washer, she washed from light to dark clothes, using the same water for several loads to conserve on water.(They had a shallow well which made conservation a necessity.)Dad's clothing from the coal mines was the last load of the day. She changed the water once during the process so she could add bleach and do whites, towels and bedding.

With my washer and dryer, it doesn't matter what day I do laundry; or even what time of day I do it, as long as it gets done. But I have found some frugal ideas to help me get it done.

I haven't tried it yet, but I'm considering it - making my own laundry detergent. I found a lot of resources with recipes for this including the book by the Duggars - The Duggars: 20 and counting I just can't imagine the mounds of laundry their family has to do each day! I've helped my daughter with her family laundry for a family of 7 and even that seemed endless!

Other homemade laundry soap recipes can be found on Tip Hero - these are all recipes submitted by readers.

Another great blog was one written by Trent at The Simple Dollar Trent gives his recipe, a cost breakdown for the product he makes and even a video of how it looks and the steps to make it! Great resource. According to his blog, he gets 312 cups of laundry soap for about $7 and in his own stain tests, it works as well as the brand name laundry detergent.

Ok - the wash is done and it's time to dry it. The most frugal way to dry clothes is on the wash line. I love blankets and sheets hung on the line on a spring day. The smell is so relaxing at bedtime. But practically speaking, I don't always have time for that.

But I have cut costs by making my own dryer sheets. Old towels can be cut into small squares and drizzled with liquid fabric softener. Old or mismatched white socks work well too. These can be tossed in with the rinse cycle of the washer if you're hanging your laundry outside, or tossed in the dryer with a load. I like to put the softener on the cloths and then let the air dry before using them so the fabric softener doesn't leave spots on my clothes in the dryer.

Of course, if dryer sheets and fabric softeners cause allergies or problems for you, vinegar is a safe alternative - just 1/2 cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle will work as well as fabric softener - but don't mix use with bleach - since that may cause toxic fumes.

Tennis balls work well in the dryer too (rather than those pricier dryer balls) at helping to keep down static. Since static is produced by synthetics more than by cotton fabrics, you might want to air dry your synthetics.

I will say this - my mother in law had the right idea - when she did laundry, she did the whole process from start to finish - washing, drying, folding and putting it away. Sometimes I get too busy and the clean loads pile up for a few days before I can put them away. That makes extra work since they tend to get wrinkled and need pressing. If I can hang and put away each load as it comes out of the dryer or off the line, it is more frugal time-wise for me than if it piles up.

Who knew laundry could be so complicated??????

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