She's tired of the expense and hassle of visiting the laundromat

Apartment Laundry Solutions

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Apartment Laundry Solutions

I'm in an apartment without a washer and dryer and the complex laundry room is acres away and costs $1 a wash and $2 to dry! What I usually end up doing is packing all my clothes to the laundromat once a week, spending a fortune there and taking up a whole Saturday. What's the Stretcher solution?
Rachel in California

Wear It Twice

Here are some suggestions to the woman who spends all day on Saturday doing her laundry:

  1. By timing it right, she probably could use 4 or 5 washing machines at once thereby cutting down the amount of time she spends.
  2. As the old saying goes "keep it nice, wear it twice". Of course this doesn't go for all your clothes, but chances are she should consider if there's anyway she can cut down on the amount of clothes she is washing. When I worked fulltime and came home from work, I would always change into a tee shirt and shorts to lounge around the house, and since I was only wearing them for a few hours, I would wear them several evenings in a row.


The Wash Bucket

There are some things you can do to reduce the amount of laundry you have to haul. Back before kids when I only had laundry for myself, and no machines either, I took a great deal of pride in how little to tote to the laundry. All your panties, bras, socks, slips, nylons, and camisoles can be sink or bucket washed. I kept a 5 gallon pail with a very mild detergent solution in it, and put those items in at the end of the day. Every couple days or so, I washed them out by hand in the bathtub and used string and clothespins to hang them over the tub. You can even buy the over-the-tub clothes dryer thing at Wal-Mart, with 4 strings that stretch across the tub the long way.

My mom, also a single gal for a time, simply did hers at the end of each day eliminating the need for planning time to do it.

People tend to think that towels are dirty when you use them after a shower. Not true. You just got yourself clean, and as long as you didn't wipe the floor with it, a towel can last at least three to four showers. These days the kids get one assigned twice a week to keep track of and turn in for the next. Using towels this way, you can usually add them into you plan with the skivvies if you use a 5 gallon pail. You can also use this hand wash method on your sheets once a week.

Let me mention the bucket method has some tips that make it easier. First, start with a clean, 5-gallon pail with a handle, and get yourself some type of stick or rod to stir with (agitate). I used a huge old wooden spoon that came from an old restaurant. Get yourself a good sturdy plastic bristled cleaning brush, like you'd use on the floor. As I mentioned earlier, you start the bucket with a mild mix of laundry soap (liquid works best), and maybe a touch of color booster (Clorox 2 or something). Let everything sit in there, and when you're ready to 'wash' dump everything into the tub, water and all. Fill you bucket with water and fresh soap. You'll only use about 1/5 capful or less. Stir with your stick to ensure the soap and water mix. Then begin to add the clothes. You can do an item at a time, or put them all in, and pull one out at a time. You use the stick to mimic the agitation of the washing machine, stirring round one way, and back around the other. Use the brush to get any stains or marks off (even grass stains have come out this way for me). From here you just rinse using water from the shower or tub, ring if appropriate and hang up. It's a great way to curb outside laundry expense, and is also, in my opinion, more water conservative than a machine too.

Counter-top Washing Machines

Taking really good care of washable fabric starts with immediate spot treating. "Shout" has spot remover wipes in individual foil packets. Carrying a few of these in purse or briefcase can really help.

If you can obtain a boating or RV catalog, (or even search on the Internet) there is such a thing as a counter top clothes washing machine (and spin dryer combination). It does run on house current, and is about the size of a large portable TV. It can be moved easily by one person. It uses a lot less water; however, you can't wash a lot at one time. I purchased one for my mom, when she moved into her retirement housing apartment, because she had the same problem. It does not fully dry the clothes, as there is no heating element to blow hot air. But it does give you the option of doing small loads at home, at your convenience.

Words of Experience

I too was an apartment dweller who had to drag my family's laundry to a laundromat once a week. Here's how to cut the costs and better utilize your time.

  • Do not buy fluffy deluxe bath towels; thinner ones take less space in the washing machine and also take less time to dry, while they still "do the job". Also consider using one bath towel per person per week. Think about it: you are clean from your shower and you just need to dry off.
  • Consider using (double or) triple loaders. Not only is it cheaper, but also it uses 3/4 of the "recommended" amount of laundry detergent; it is enough to get your clothes clean.
  • Do not overload dryers. You will save time and money if you use two dryers for 15 minutes, instead of one dryer for 45 minutes. About 10 minutes into the 15-minute drying cycle I stop the dryer to pull out the dry items (sheets, cotton shirts, etc.) Thus, the final 5 minutes is usually sufficient to dry the remaining damp items because with less clothes in the dryer there is better heat circulation.
  • Try Crystal Wash. 1000 loads of laundry - no detergents, no dyes, no chemicals, no perfumes.

  • While your clothes are in the washing machine, don't sit there and watch the clothes go 'round. Bring your checkbook and pay bills. If there are stores nearby, go do an errand; get gas for your car. If you really want to watch TV at the laundromat then bring coupons to cut, or items that need minor sewing repairs.
  • Lastly, avoid doing your laundry on Saturdays, which is the busiest day of the week in laundromats. There are many laundromats that are open late, even 24 hours, and you will not have to wait for machines to become available.


Take the Next Step

  • Could spending 5 minutes reading a newsletter twice a week save you time and money every day? Dollar Stretcher Tips readers think so. Subscribe and find out how many ideas stretch your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.
  • Spend less time and money doing your laundry. The Dollar Stretcher Frugal Laundry Guide can help you do both.

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