Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Saving Money and the Environment One Load at a Time

It seems like everywhere these days I'm hearing that Americans are using too much soap.  Seriously, I think I've read at least three articles in as many months.  Alina Tugend's New York Times article is full of tips for prolonging the life of your appliances.  The number one rule?  Use less detergent.  Apparently most of us assume using more soap will make our dishes and clothes cleaner, but excess soap actually prevents our clothes from rinsing clean and can cause build-up that damages our appliances. In fact Tide is now marketing a product that is designed to be used monthly to clean your washing machine and remove the residue often cause by using too much detergent.  I am aware of the irony.  Tide is making money off of a product designed to fix a problem caused by people using too much of their product--I'm trying it tonight.

Incidentally, we can take it easy on the dryer sheets too.  My plan (thanks to a rash my daughter has developed since she's been out of diapers) is to forgo the dryer sheets altogether.  I've learned that vinegar is a great inexpensive and natural alternative to fabric softener when added to you washing machine's rinse cycle.  And no, your clothes will not smell like pickles.

Of course for the truly budget-conscious, you can always make your own laundry detergent or skip detergent altogether.  Those options aren't for me.  I'm not ambitious enough to make mix my own, and I'm a little too skeptical to leave it out altogether.  I have, however, recently started using half the recommended amount.  It's a small change that requires zero additional effort, and I've noticed no difference in the cleanliness of the clothes.  I'm pretty happy to be saving money and producing less waste.  And some day my washer and dryer will thank me!

What about you?  Any great laundry tips?  I'm still waiting for that answer to grease stains!


  1. I confess: I am a chronic over-soaper. With every kind of soap. I'm terrible.

  2. Me too, Traci. I'm also notorious for overstuffing the washer and dryer. I'm hoping I'll get better at that as I try to keep the bedroom clean and keep up on laundry.

  3. I too read an article about how using too much detergent is bad for your washing machine and dishwasher. I have since actually read the back of my laundry soap to find out the recommended amount of soap. I haven't used dryer sheets in years. John doesn't like anything scented and I haven't noticed that my clothes are "hard" (haha). As for making my own laundry soap, I am seriously considering this. I think I'll give it a try after we move (who wants to move a huge bucket of laundry soap). I'll let you know how it turns out, but that will be a while.