By Camille Rankin
1. Pretreat stains
Cut down on second washings (not to mention ruined clothes) by acting quickly on nasty spills. Use a stain-treating bar soap like Fels-Naptha ($1.09; Amazon.com), or soak delicates in a liquid stain treatment, so you don't damage the fabric by rubbing it (try OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Powder, $9; Amazon.com). Bleach pens like Clorox's ($10.99 for two; Amazon.com) are handy for washable whites mixed with color, like a striped shirt.
SAVINGS: About 65¢ per wash cycle
Photo by Getty Images
Related: Discover 10 things you never have to pay for.
2. Switch to cold
Ninety percent of the energy washing machines use goes into heating the water, but clothes don't need hot water to get clean. You might prefer to use it for heavy-use items (sheets, towels), but try cold water for anything colored or for items that are lightly soiled. And always rinse in cold-it gets suds out better and doesn't set wrinkles.
SAVINGS: 30¢ to 60¢ per load
3. Save on detergent
If you don't already, buy in bulk-the bigger, the better (decant into a smaller container, if desired)-and try store instead of name brands (they're often made by the same company). Pay attention to how much detergent the manufacturer recommends you use for each load. Most people add far more than advised, and often your clothes will be just as clean if you use as little as half of what is suggested.
SAVINGS: Up to 30¢ per load
Related: Learn about 10 cool, new inventions that'll make your life easier.
4. Hang it out to dry
The less time your laundry spends in the dryer, the more you save. Try drying the old-fashioned way: on a clothesline. A retractable one-like the Household Essentials Hotel Style Clothes Dryer ($17.99; Amazon.com)-stays out of sight when not in use. A shower curtain rod also makes the perfect "line" in a pinch.
SAVINGS: About 50¢ per 45-minute dryer cycle
5. Dry-clean at home
Many items that say dry clean only can be washed by hand or in the delicate cycle of your machine. For fast freshening of lightly soiled items, consider Woolite Dry Cleaner's Secret Dry Cleaning Cloths ($28.16 for 14 cloths; Amazon.com)-toss up to four garments in the dryer with a treated sheet and hit start. It even works on bulkier pieces like blazers!
SAVINGS: $5 to $10 per item
Related: Check out 15 clever uses for household items.
6. Worth the investment
If your old washer or dryer kicks the bucket, replace it with an EnergyStar-rated one-you may save up to $135 a year in energy costs. Other features to consider:
7. FOR WASHERS
Look for a high-efficiency (HE) machine and think about switching from a top-load to a front-load machine. The latter cuts energy by about a third and water use by half.
8. FOR DRYERS
New built-ins like steam drying can help freshen clothes (so you skip dry cleaning) and moisture sensors automatically shut off the dryer once your clothes are dry.
You May Also Like:
9 Bad Habits That Are Good for You
The 10 Dirtiest Spots in Your Kitchen
10 Things Men Wish Women Knew About Sex
By Camille Rankin