Is Extending Wash Between Clothing Wears a Smart Way to Save Time and Money on Laundry?
by Dollar Stretcher Contributors
Natural Homemade Laundry Soap
Homemade Wrinkle Releaser
Apartment Laundry Solutions
Dry Cleaning Alternatives
Is Extending Wash Between Clothing Wears a Smart Way to Save Time and Money on Laundry?
I have been looking into ways to save both time and money on our laundry expenses and read that many types of clothing do not need to be washed after every wear, nor should they be if you want them to last as long as possible. Obviously, this solution would provide the savings I am looking for, but is it wise? Sure, if my family wears a nice outfit for a few hours while attending church, we come home and re-hang those items to wear again, but what about clothing that's worn for a good part of the day? Also, how much time does it take to get rid of wrinkles and lint that collects on clothing that you rely on a wash to take care of? If anyone has any helpful guidelines and opinions on how well this works as a money-saving solution, I would love to hear it. Thanks so much!
Don't Be a Laundry Hog
I have been guilty of being a laundry hog; I always liked to wash everything after one wearing, no matter how short, and I liked to feel clean from top to toe every day. But now that I have to pay by the load, I have changed some of my habits. Instead of wearing pajamas just once, I wear them twice before washing. I also wear my pants two days in a row, unless I spill something on them. No one notices, as a different top makes the whole outfit look different. I hand-wash my bras every three days, meaning I wash three bras! I wear a fresh bra every day. A gentle hand-wash and soak in the sink works fine, and the extra benefit is that my bras last longer that way. (I do not hand-wash panties because I feel that they need a good, germ-fighting wash after every wearing.)
I am also mindful not to change clothes too often. I try to make one outfit do for the whole day, even if I have to go from casual to dress. "Dress" is so casual these days that often just a change in accessories will make the difference.
Personally, I can't "dirty up" any more than that, but I have cut my monthly cost for laundry from $20 to $14.
Use Common Sense
It's mostly a matter of common sense. If you're perspiring in the summer heat, gardening or doing other dirty yard work, or playing football in the mud, you'll have to toss those clothes in the laundry. If you've dribbled spaghetti sauce or red wine all over them, you'll have to wash your clothing. But if you've spent the day less active and avoided messes, you can probably get an extra day or so out of them. Hanging them to air out helps as well. To extend your regular clothes, have a set or two of old clothes specifically reserved for "get dirty" activities. For cooking or cleaning, wear an apron or an old t-shirt while you're working. Consider having breakfast before getting dressed for the day to avoid soiling your outfit. Also, if you wear dressier clothes for work, change into casualwear as soon as possible when you get home. Don't overlook spot-cleaning. If your blouse is clean other than a small spill, dab it with an appropriate cleaning solution. Check how it looks after it's dry, and it may be just fine.
Freeze Away Odors
After looking over clothing, I always do a sniff test before deciding whether to wear it again. If you hang clothes in the bathroom after a shower, while the room is steamy, most wrinkles will hang out. An alternative is to spray lightly with water, hang, and smooth out wrinkles with your hands. I keep a spray bottle of water with a tablespoon or so of liquid fabric softener for this purpose. If there is a slight odor, I might spray with Febreze.
I read an article on the internet that I have not tried. Supposedly, if you fold jeans, put into a plastic bag, and then into the freezer for several hours, it will eliminate odors. I don't have enough freezer room to try this.
Immediately Hang "Good Clothes"
It is absolutely not necessary to wash most clothing after every wear. Assuming I didn't spill anything or get sweaty, I wear most shirts two times and most pants three times between washes. It requires little to no extra effort to remove wrinkles or lint, and your clothes will stay in good condition longer. My personal routine is if I'm wearing "good" clothes, I change as soon as I get home and immediately hang the "good" clothes. This way, they don't tend to collect lint (or pet fur). Be sure to look carefully for spots as any stain will be harder to remove the longer it sits. I put the hanger on the outside of my closet until the next morning to be sure the clothes have time to air out. Most items will not need to be re ironed if they're placed on hangers as soon as you take them off. Also, don't forget to look at the inside of collars and sleeve cuffs to make sure they're still looking fresh.
Help from Grandma
I learned this trick from my grandmother years ago. You can wear the same thing several times (unless you spill something on it) simply by hanging jeans, shirts, etc. up at the end of the day and by hanging them out in the fresh sunshine the next day! The wrinkles will be out and your clothes should smell fresh! With that being said, I now use a little fabric refresher on my clothes, hang them up, and wear another day. Our mothers and grandmothers always wore aprons to help keep their clothes clean and other than underclothes most only washed once a week. Washing clothes too often wears the fabric thin.
Hang Clothes Outside Overnight
I discovered that when I was around friends who smoked, my clothes reeked of the smoke. I started hanging my clothes outside overnight, and in the morning, they smelled nice and fresh again. I have since used that method when I wanted to wear something more than once without washing. It works!
Find Other Ways to Save
Unless a family has a lot of laundry, I don't think that worrying about whether to wash an outfit or wear it again will save much money. If you separate your laundry into colors and whites, you may not have full loads all the time anyway.
I wear nice clothing when I go out and older clothing around the house. My nice clothing may be worn two or three times if only worn for a couple of hours. My older clothing may be worn for a dirty job more than once, rather than getting two sets of clothing dirty and/or sweaty. For example, if I work in the garden one evening, I will wear the same clothes the next morning and then shower afterwards.
To save more on laundry, hang delicates to dry, run the dryer for the shortest time possible, and use less detergent than the manufacturer recommends unless your water is very hard. Spot treat all clothing before you wash it and check for stains before it goes into the dryer.
Barbara in SC
Try Crystal Wash. 1000 loads of laundry - no detergents, no dyes, no chemicals, no perfumes.
Spot Wash and Air
In my grandma's day, people "spot washed" clothing and then aired it. You can wear an outfit a full day for three wears this way. That is assuming you do not do excessive exercise and sweat in the outfit. Look over the garment for any spots that can be washed. Use a little dishwashing soap in warm water. Use just enough to get a little suds. Wash any obvious spots. Now, wash the armpit areas well on tops and the groin area well on pants. Use a spray bottle with water and a few teaspoons of fabric softener as a freshening spray. Hang the garment in a window that has a breeze. The garment will smell and look clean and fresh the next day.
Van in AL
Create a Signal
Yes, you can hang clothes up that have not been worn very long. I do this all the time with my clothes. I usually do it with clothes I have worn less than four hours. When I put them in the closet, I turn the hangar backwards to signal that the item has already been worn and wash after the second time. I live in Texas, so I don't do this in the summer because of sweat issues. Also, to save money, line-drying really extends the live of clothes and saves on electricity.
Buy a Wrinkle Releaser
Go to a dollar store and buy spray wrinkle releaser. It costs $1 and wrinkles fall out. All odors disappear and clothing smells like it just came out of the dryer.
Take the Next Step:
- Visit the TDS library for more tips and tricks for saving both time and money when doing laundry.
- When buying laundry detergent, are you just paying for advertising? Or is there really a difference? Find out here.
- 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.
Have an idea that we didn't include? Send it to us and we'll add it to the article.