The average family does 400 loads of laundry per year. Those costs add up. You're paying for water, detergent and energy, not counting the washer and dryer. But there are ways to do it much cheaper.
The first money-waster in the laundry room: Using too much detergent! Detergents are super-concentrated now. When you use too much, you're not just wasting detergent, it can trigger your washer to use an extra rinse cycle.
"It takes longer to do your laundry and it wastes water. Very often, you can't even see the lines in the cap. If you mark it yourself, you use exactly the amount you need," says Pat Slaven, from Consumer Reports.
The consumer company also found that as much as 90 percent of the energy spent on a wash load is for "heating the water." Instead, choose the cold water cycle. Your clothes will come clean, and you probably won't see a difference.
Wash only "full" loads of laundry. I'm guilty here. But they say it saves wear and tear on your machine. If you must wash a small load, adjust the load size. And whatever the size of your load, use the highest spin setting your fabrics allow.
"This reduces the amount of moisture in your clothes. Then your dryer will have less work to do, and save you energy," Slaven says.
Another tip: Don't dry your clothes using the timed-dry setting. Choose the auto-dry setting on medium and let your dryer's moisture sensor decide when the load is dry.
And remember, fabric softener sheets can gum up the sensors in your dryer, making it run longer. Wipe them monthly with rubbing alcohol.
Lastly, you won't get the cleanest clothes if you stuff everything in at once. It's more energy efficient to wash and dry similar items together, like just jeans or just t-shirts, so everything will dry evenly.
Another thing that many people forget to do is clean out that lint trap. After every load, clean the filter. That keeps air circulating, taking less time to dry your clothing which saves even more money.