To add insult to injury, the time-sucking chore of laundry is also a drain on your wallet. Here are six ways to save a few bucks on the necessary evil.
l Make your own detergent. Here’s a recipe from “365 Ways to Live Cheap” by Trent Hamm (Adams Media, $7.95): Take a bar of soap and grate it into flakes using a box grater. Mix the flakes with one cup washing soda (located near laundry detergent at most stores) and a half cup of Borax. For extra power, throw in a half cup of OxyClean. Use 2 tablespoons (or 1/8 cup) of this mixture per laundry load.
• Skip dryer sheets. Pour a little fabric softener on a dish towel and toss that in the dryer with your wet clothes. Every 15 or so loads, add a little more fabric softener to the towel. Or ...
• Skimp on dryer sheets. One of those things can last longer than one load. Hamm suggests cutting your sheets in half and using each half twice.
• Skip stain sticks. Make your own stain remover by mixing 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide and 1/4 cup baking soda, says Hamm. Rub the mixture onto blood, mud or sweat stains. Let it sit for 15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
• Cut dryer time: Always clean out your lint trap, of course. But also try tossing a couple of tennis balls in with each cycle, which will make your clothes dry faster (and fluffier).
• Use cold water. The vast majority of energy for washing clothes is used by the water heater, not the washing machine. You can save about $63 a year, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.