How To Do Less Laundry

Posted in Minimalist on Oct 10, 2011.

I came across a blog entry a few weeks ago that made an argument for having less clothes because you’d do less laundry. I nodded in approval. That makes sense, right? But I also considered that having less clothes also meant you’d have to do laundry more frequently.

So which is better? I soon found out.

The dryers in my apartment building have gone rogue and management can’t keep up with fixing them, so I decided it was time for my first coin laundry experience. I went in with my bag and…major shocker for simple-minded me!

Laundry Tips

Oh, if only it was this empty that day...

  • People were using two, three, even four jumbo sized dryers that could each fit three people inside.
  • I saw a handful of people that were folding their clothes out of the dyer from the time I came in, and an hour later when I left they were still folding.
  • I counted one lady putting eleven large garbage bags of clothes into the washers.
  • One woman folded what seemed like enough towels to restock Bed Bath & Beyond in every color.
  • I helped one poor woman carrying a baby get the clothes back into her car because the bins were too heavy for her to lift.
  • One woman was folding jeans for half an hour. I’ll leave the number of jeans to your imagination.

I went in there to wash a week (maybe even two weeks) of clothes from Josh and me and our bed sheet set. I took up two of the smallest washers — one for whites and one for darks. I threw everything in a jumbo dryer, which didn’t even fill up a third of the way, and then folded to leave. I was in there for about an hour total and spent under $5. The bigger, high efficiency washers are four times more expensive than the smallest washers, by the way, and since I was able to dry all of my clothes in one jumbo dryer I actually saved a ton of money compared to doing it in my laundry room back at the apartment.

The other people there were, I think, monthly washers. I can only speculate that they leave all those clothes on the floor (there’s no hamper that fits five to ten garbage bags of clothes) and then once a month pack it up in the car and spend a lot of money to clean it all.

If you have a ton of clothes it’s easy to put off doing laundry. But wouldn’t you rather have to do laundry once a week and only spend an hour doing it, rather than spend an entire day and tons of money at once to get it done? It just seems so much simpler to me to have less and wash less!

Laundry Basket

More Laundry Stress-Saving Tips

  • You’re probably using too much detergent. Especially Americans. I saw one lady pour about two whole cups of bleach into her white load of laundry. Unless you’re hiking in your clothes every day or work construction, a gentle wash with a little bit of detergent is all it takes to get them fresh.
  • Wash gently, unless otherwise indicated. Read your labels and you may be surprised. Most clothes are supposed to go through the gentle cycle both in the washer and dryer. The only whites I have that recommend hot water are my bedsheets, but I do them in a cold gentle cycle as well. This saves energy, time, and also saves a lot of premature wear on your clothes.
  • Re-wear clothes. Those jeans you wore to class for three hours aren’t dirty, and neither is that dress you wore to dinner. Washing clothes when they aren’t even soiled is totally overrated. I re-wear my clothes until they’re dirty and it saves me tons of time and money. If you’re super stingy you can refresh clothes with the iron’s steam setting.
  • Buy clear detergent. I don’t understand why companies put dye into a cleaner. Buying a clear and gentle detergent is safer for the environment, your clothes, and your skin. So why not? Some people are addicted to scents but there are some that are wonderfully lightly scented. Or mist your clothes with Febreeze after washing!
  • Fold your clothes. If you throw clean clothes around they wrinkle to the point of being unwearable and you either don’t wear it or toss it right back into the laundry basket. How many of us break out the ironing board? Just avoid the headache by folding directly after it comes out of the dryer!
Laundry is my least favorite chore, so I really go all out on anything that makes it easier for me to deal with. Do you have any laundry tips to add? Let me know!


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  • http://beautyandmakeupwonderland.blogspot.com Tina

    I totally agree with your stress saving tips, especially re-wearing your clothes. I do that all the time. Unless you sweat in something, or spill food on it or something like that, then you can wear things two or even three times before you need to wash them.
    My recent post Essie Haul Part 2

    • Marjorie

      Same here, glad I'm not the only one re-wearing! We have the tendency to over-clean things. I see some people buying so many clothes just to have something to wear between washes. Just doesn't make sense!
      My recent post Less Clothes, Less Laundry

  • Jinny (SkyInk.net)

    "Laundry is my least favorite chore …"

    I LOVE doing laundry. I know. I'm a freak! Haha, but I don't know why, I just feel so happy to get clean clothes as the final product when I'm done. I'm so weird, I know!

    Anyway, for me, I do laundry at home about once every two weeks. I only do my own laundry, and I guess I have a fair amount of clothes so I don't need to wash my clothes too often (although I don't own that many pairs of pants, but even then, I tend to wear my jeans (rotating between a few pairs) over and over again until they're dirty or it's been 2 weeks. I mean, nobody ever remembers what pants people wore. Who can tell I'm wearing the same jeans as yesterday? for example).

    I don't use the dryer ever though. My family has one, but nobody uses it. I'm not sure why. I don't use it because it's just become a habit to air-dry my clothes, since that was how I was taught to do my laundry … /shrugs. I only use the dryer when it's for something big like bed sheets.
    My recent post Protected: Personal.

    • Jinny (SkyInk.net)

      I guess I should also point out I live in a relatively cold area, so it's not like I ever sweat in my clothes either, therefore they get soiled pretty slowly "naturally" (not counting, of course, spilling food or being caught outside in the rain without an umbrella).
      My recent post Protected: Personal.

      • Marjorie

        I remember you saying it was your favorite! I was shocked. haha :) I always dread a full laundry basket…

        I rotate my jeans as well. I actually only own three pair, which is plenty unless it's a really hot day out (in which I'm likely wearing a skirt) or I spill something on them. It's easier to get away with here in dry LA over humid Orlando. Especially living where you are, people don't need to constantly wash because the clothes just aren't getting dirty! I don't understand that women who had like 30 pairs of jeans. Nobody can tell the difference with jeans unless you have one that really stands out!

        I like that you don't use the dryer. It's better for the environment, your clothes, and the electric bill. My family that still lives in Germany and Puerto Rico don't use dryers either. It's very common to see clotheslines there. Here in America it's quite uncommon unless it's in a poor neighborhood. A dryer is seen as more of a necessary item rather than a luxury. I think we've been that way with dishwashers as well. It's kind of weird to think we don't truly need those things. I'd love to hang my clothes to try because of the cost, but I don't even have a patio… Which makes it difficult. haha
        My recent post Less Clothes, Less Laundry

        • http://royal-hours.net Jinny

          I like air-drying clothes in spring/summertime especially because they dry SO FAST — much faster than using a dryer! (Except my unmentionables, which I hang up to dry indoors no matter what … not really too keen on the idea of displaying them outside for all my neighbours to see =P).

          In the fall/winter, I have to hang my clothes indoors (there's enough space in the basement for some clothesracks) and they dry much slower, but that's okay. I never really thought about the fact that I'm helping the environment, my clothes and the electric bill by air drying, so now I feel like I'm really smart or something, hahaha!

  • http://riyuu.org Jenny

    Haha, I'm the lazy type that doesn't do laundry until my basket is full, which is probably every 2 weeks? I hate throwing things in the washer just because I wore them once. Like you said, washing unsoiled clothes is overrated, not to mention a waste of time and money. I keep a bottle of Fabreeze fabric freshner around for that, haha. But I never knew that washing in gentle cycle actually saves more water and energy! I'll definitely start doing that with my clothes from now on! Thanks for sharing!
    My recent post Say hello to Shelly

    • Marjorie

      Every two weeks isn't bad! My sister throws things on the floor and does laundry when she runs out of clothes to wear. LOL…

      Glad you agree with the over washing! Good to hear there are some other sane people out there. Yes, the gentle cycle is my best friend! It automatically uses cold water which is gentler on clothes and doesn't use up the hot water, which spikes up the electric bill. It has also saved my clothes. I used to wonder why my shirts kept getting holes! Unless I hike through mud, I doubt my clothes need to be scrubbed vigorously in hot water… haha. Thanks for commenting!
      My recent post Less Clothes, Less Laundry