Laundry Saving Tips Beyond Normal

How do you save money on laundry? I’ve tried most of the online methods but still I’m looking to pinch pennies since hospitalization last spring dictates that my medicines increase beyond the norm. Then there is the squeak and squawk of the washer and dryer which reminds me of their age. I’ll need money to buy a used set not too long in the future.

To squeeze a bit more life out of the old girls, I only wash full loads and I’ve finally taught the kids to not change clothes multiple times a day  and wear clothes more than once if possible, especially the pants.


I laughed when I read Hiut Denim’s advice, “Raw denim is best given a good six months before washing. The longer you can leave it, the better your jeans will look.” Hiut Denin never helped wrestle 500 hundred calves for branding. So covered in manure and pee I swear my clothes could have stood up on their own if dry. He’s never castrated or doctored cysts that popped instead of drained. He’s never mucked corrals or had our friendly buck, Bravo, rub up against him, his pee drenched body leaving his distinct breeding season perfume on you. Nope, Hiut Denins hasn’t lived the country life. But still when possible we wear pants a few times and shirts twice in the winter. This life means right now I often have three sets of clothes in neat piles or hung in the closet – my indoor comfies, barnyard uglies, and go to town clothes ready to switch between before placing in the wash.

Going beyond mixing my own detergent and the above methods, I now hang my clothes in the house on clothes racks. It requires no electricity and raises the humidity up to 30% which aids my asthma and keeps our grandkid’s bloody noses at bay. A better job than the table top humidifier I’d wear out and have to replace each year.

But sometimes just hanging clothes in the house won’t do. The grandkids often show up dirty clothes in tow or fail to haul their laundry often enough to spread out the wash loads for drying. Last week was such a week. Racks and lines full, I looked to the outside clothes line. The forecast was to reach 42 F. / 5.55C which is extra warm for us.

The advice I read was to hang laundry as early as possible. So for two days, I hustled the kids onto the bus at 6:55 at the stop 2 miles down the road and rushed home to hang laundry outdoors before doing dishes and homeschooling with another granddaughter. Trampling under my feet was five inches of freshly fallen snow. My fingertips soon felt the chill and had me thinking a set of wool finger-less gloves would sure come in handy as the clothes quickly froze in a line beside me. It was 22 F. or -5.55 C but the hope was the weather would make 41 F. or 5 C. But, the sloping rays of the winter sun never reach the clothes line nestled against the house on the north side. I was skeptical at how well this would work.

Just as the sun slipped behind the mountain to our west. I snatched off flannel that was still pretty damp, cotton jeans that seemed to have changed little, but surprisingly dry thin cotton shirts. I put them in the dryer load after load. I wish I’d timed it because it felt like only 40 minutes had passed and they were all done. The science behind sublimation is that on cold days, the wet clothes freeze and then create water vapor that escapes the clothes. I guess a little wind is helpful too.

Thinking maybe the day had been too warm, I tried again when a whopping 28 F. / -2.2 C, in the sun was forecast. Amazingly, the clothes were far drier than before. I’ve got two loads ready to go out tomorrow. This is COOL in more ways than one.

Up until now this fall, I’ve been hanging clothes in our house which is pretty chilly in the mornings, low 60’s to high 50’s F. I flip the clothes 12 hours after I drape them and it takes another 12 to 24 more to dry in our cool bedroom. I wish I could hang in front of the wood stove but it is the main walkway. The two racks aren’t enough so the shirts I hang on hangers in a row in the laundry room where a large dowel is slung. More room will be achieved when I get the ceiling painted in the laundry room and we hang the English ceiling clothes line we imported. This will increase our drying capacity and hopefully get the clothes out of my room.

You’d think I’d be satisfied but my brain is asking, “What if I hung clothes outside and then again inside”? That is what our ancestors did. It is time consuming but I will experiment a little to see how time effective it is. You never know when the knowledge will be needed in the future.

IMG_9329Hanging in the freezing cold requires a bit different technique. Just attach one side of the bottom of a shirt or sweatshirt and pull open. Socks hang from the top on one side and open up. Jeans hang one leg on one line and the other on the next. I often wear cotton leggings or wool long johns under my pants and I hang them by the baggy butt top on one side and open up. Go back after hanging a load or two and tug your clothes open a little more. The clothes will have frozen just enough to open wide and hold. This gives the best air flow for drying.  

To do laundry this way it takes planning. Plus time but there is something to be said about a repetitive task that frees the mind to ponder on other matters. Surprisingly, I find myself looking forward to the job. It clears the stress of hollering for kids to hurry up as I cook waffles; pancakes; or eggs and bacon; at the same time I’m putting together cold lunches to take to school. Yes, I need a reprieve before settling down to teach.

The drop in my electric bill has been noticeable. Dryers are power hogs. With the habit of hanging laundry nearly formed, I think I’ll next look into low power usage hours and see if some of my tasks can be pushed into those times when the electric costs are cheaper. Hopefully that’s possible.

Decreasing the amount of phantom electricity is another area I’m working on once more. I had it in hand before we moved but I’ve slipped once more into poor habits. The kids will be the ones tough to train. Not that there is much lost but it all adds up.

I’m curious, tell me how hanging clothes in the winter works for you where you live. We are blessed to have low humidity and that helps heaps but maybe it is high where you are. What then do you do?








9 thoughts on “Laundry Saving Tips Beyond Normal

  1. Valerie

    I remember when I was young and living at home. We always had a lot of people living in our home. Most of them temporary. At times there were as many as 15. Hanging laundry was required for that many people. All year long. I remember bringing clothes in off the line in the winter and the jeans would stand up by themselves. We don’t currently have a clothes line, it’s on the to do list for next year. My husband has bad allergies so his clothes have to be done in the dryer even after hanging outside. Sheets and towels too. So I can cut the use down quite a bit, but not completely.
    I had a friend at one time that would take all the clothes out of the washer and lay them out on the table for a while before she put them in the dryer. She said it helped cut down on the time it took to dry them.
    I have thought about getting one of those retractable clothes lines and put up in the house. I have been known to hang clothes on a hanger on the shower rod to dry also.


    1. My rod in the bathroom is the same principle as a shower rod and hanging with hangers works great. I can not imagine having 15 people living here. We’d be on top of each other. Oh the patience your parents must have had. I feel for your husband. I don’t have natural allergies just ones to man made chemicals. They can really make your miserable. My reactions to chemicals would at times would make me bedridden for days but those days are past thankfully. Interesting that the dryer takes care of the problem with clothes after hanging outside. Your humidity must be much higher as our clothes become frozen but the moisture whisks away and they become very pliable if hung before 8:00 a.m. and brought in at dusk. It takes that long and lower temperatures seem to work best. An indoor clothes line sounds ideal.


  2. Darla

    I use a clothes line. The only things that I do not put out are socks & towels. When I put on the socks, they fell stiff & I feel that they are not clean. The towels feel scratchy & stiff, so I also put them in the dryer


    1. My family complains about the towels or rather use to. I’m thinking on trying Turkish towels as they dry fast and would not feel so stiff. Just a couple to test at first. The socks I don’t have the same problem. No idea why.


  3. Valerie

    I have the allergies to chemicals also. I am allergic to almost every soap on the market. When I was a kid, we got a sample of laundry soap in the mail. My mom used it to wash the weeks laundry. I became a head to toe rash. She had to rewash everything I would be using. I have given up on shampoo. Can’t find one that doesn’t make my head itch. I use baking soda now.
    I love towels dried on the line. They feel like they dry my skin so much better. I on;y put hubby’s clothes in the dryer long enough to get any pollen off that may have gotten on them hanging outside. Yes, our humidity is very high, even in the winter.


    1. I react to all store shampoos in the same way. I tried natural shampoo bars which sometimes made me itch and sometimes not. It filmed on my hair and the only way to remove it was either baking soda or vinegar. I tried different things for three months and came to the conclusion part of the problem is our water. A year later and having tried every priced right shampoo I can find that is fairly natural and still an itchy head. My poor memory can’t think if my own homemade soap was tried. It seems like it was. I had to use vinegar dissolved it. I think part of the problem is our water. I had decided after Christmas to try again. I’ve got the granddaughters using my homemade soap instead of the commercial kind to shave with. Took some time. You know grandma is a bit strange. LOL I’ve been making soap for close to 30 years. I continue to use the outdoor clothes line and my husband can be heard hollering for me to check if the clothes are dry like he does when I have bread in the oven. He knows my poor memory, he has one too. But mostly he just finds the whole laundry experiment fascinating like I do.


  4. k

    Thank you for this blog, all your work/sharing is appreciated!

    I have a retractable clothesline put up “tall” height in the garage…fan pushes the air around with door shut.
    Also I have washed the inside of the garage door carefully (a style of horizontal panels set up, rolls upwards, door faces south), inside of garage door the panels have lips that stick outwards 2 inches in an L shape ( just like the capital L looks like). With door closed I clothespin freshly washed socks, small things, small fleecey dog blankets, clean rags, etc- all dangle 2 inches from door off these lips that run the length of garage door. Outside the metal garage door is painted brown, picks up all sunlight = heat…. discovered running errands with car = hot engine = boost time with whole set up. Wet clean sneakers on towel on top of car trunk 2 feet from the radiating closed garage door will also dry sneakers in good time. All about the sun slant making heat wether be windowsill or closed garage door, capturing that energy…like those make it yourself 1980’s solar ovens/cookers boxes.
    Think on that for drying things…

    What is an English clothesline?


  5. I love my clothesline, but don’t touch it in the winter. Hmm…maybe I’ll try it. I agree — for some reason, I love this task which gets me outside and away from the busy Mama life indoors!


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