Living Well on Less: Laundry the FRUGAL WAY

March 24, 2011




1. When washing dark clothes for the first time use cold water and put salt in the water. The salt helps set the color. To brighten dark clothes after they have been washed several times, repeat the procedure.
2. Black clothing tends to look brown after several washings. To restore the black color, add coffee or strong tea to the rinse water.
3. Many garments labeled “Dry Clean Only” can be safely handwashed using mild soap like Woolite and cold water.
4. Cut dryer sheets in half before using. They still work just as well. Keep a kleenex box on the dryer for the used ones – use to dust furniture. More uses for used dryer sheets here.
5. To dye fabric a brown color inexpensively, soak it in a bucket of strong black coffee. This technique will also camouflage a non-removable coffee stain on a white table cloth.
7. You do not need to wash with hot water unless you are trying to sterilize your laundry. Use the warm or cold setting to save money. Set your rinse on the cold setting. Washing in cold water can save the typical family over $120 a year!
8. The best overall laundry tip: Make your own laundry detergent and fabric softeners! It works great, and costs so much less! Click here for some recipes:
Homemade Laundry Soap
Homemade Laundry Softener
9. When you first switch from store-bought detergent to homemade, wash laundry once with washing soda alone to get rid of the detergent residue and avoid yellowing of fabric.
10. Even your washer needs to be washed once in a while. Run the machine on hot water, normal cycle, and add a bottle of vinegar to clean the soap film and scum that’s built up inside.
11. Wash and dry clothes inside out to prevent fading.
12. Tie or pin socks together for easier sorting.
13. Use a mesh bag when washing/drying socks, especially baby socks.
14. Close zippers, button buttons, and tie strings before washing and drying. This keeps clothes from being tangled together.
15. Spot cleaning – Use Tilex Shower Spray (mildew) to spot bleach on clothes that can be bleached, but you don’t want to bleach the whole load.
16. Always empty the lint trap every single time you dry clothes in the dryer.
17. If instructions aren’t printed on the washer lid, type, laminate, and hang them over the machine.
18. Label or color-code bedroom baskets to prevent laundry room mixups.
19. Pilling is caused by items rubbing against each other in the washer and dryer. Prevent it by turning susceptible clothes inside out and washing them in a mesh bag or a drawstring pillowcase.
20. The difference between “Dry Clean” and “Dry Clean Only” is fragile fabric, but washable. Dry cleaning fluids are tough on fabrics, so whenever they can be avoided, the life of a garment is prolonged.
21. Make your own Spray Starch – 2 tablespoons cornstarch + 1 pint cold water. Place in spray bottle and shake well before each use.
More Tips on the Homemade Laundry Detergent Chat Board
Stain Removers
Oily/Waxy Stains – Try one of the following: “Scrubbing Bubble” bathroom cleaners; Rub white chalk into the stain before laundering; Rub with damp cloth dipped in Borax; Apply a paste of cornstarch and water, let dry and brush off.
Blood Stains – Fresh – use cold water. Dried – Use Hydrogen Peroxide. Pour over stain as soon as possible.
Red Stains (Koolaid, Popsicle, Berry Juice) – Rubbing Alchohol. Pour over stain before washing.
Wine, Coffee, and Fruit Stains – Club Soda or moist salt. Pour over stain, or soak in milk before washing.
Grass Stains – Combine a few drops of household ammonia with 1 teaspoon peroxide. Rub stain with this mixture. Rinse with water as soon as stain disappears.
Rust Stains – Scrub with crumbled aluminum foil.
Lipstick Stains – Rub with
shortening and wash with washing soda.
Ink Stains – Use hairspray on stain (with absorbent towel underneath) and launder as usual. Or wet stain with cold water, apply paste of cream of tartar/lemon juice, let sit one hour and wash as usual. Or mix 1/3 cup white vinegar with 2/3 cup warm water and apply a small amount to the stain. Blot until no more stain can be removed.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather March 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Just letting you know that the links for recipes and dryer sheet uses are broken. I use equal amounts of water and fabric softener, and dip sponges in it, throw them into the dryer, and use that instead of dryer sheets.


Tonja April 10, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Anyone have any suggestions on getting diesel fuel out of my hubby’s jeans & new work boots? I’ve tried soaking them in vinegar overnite, Oxi clean on another nite, Tide, airing them out in the sun….. Plz help! 😉


Chainey March 20, 2012 at 3:18 am

Try Dawn dish soap. My mom always used it on my dad’s clothes. He works on trains and always gets grease on his jeans and shirts. I think she put some Dawn on the spot, then would scrub it with an old toothbrush and let it soak in. Hope that helps!


Phyllis December 20, 2012 at 12:35 am

Lestoil works great if you can find it. Don”t delute, use it straight.


Cheryl Barnett June 6, 2011 at 4:21 pm

I also double spin all my loads to make drying time faster. Not sure if it was on the list but it is what saves time and power.


sheri April 20, 2012 at 4:05 am

I make my own detergent and softener. Love it and save soooo much


Theresa November 15, 2012 at 8:01 pm

For the men’s clothes that get car fluids all over them I just smear on some Goop Handcleaner from the automotive store and it gets it all out. For socks that are getting badly stained on the bottom I wash them once with rug and upholstery cleaner and then again with regular detergent etc…


Dee January 11, 2013 at 10:17 pm

I use white vinegar as fabric softener but dilute it as you would liquid fabric softener and it works great and has the added benefit of disinfecting, not only my clothes but my washer as well. And no you do not smell like a pickle but it works great if you have sensitive skin like myself.


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