Am I doing something wrong (laundry related!)

(154 Posts)
alabasterangel Thu 25-Oct-12 09:44:59

Trying to cut down on our mega combined fuel bills of almost £200 p/m for a three bed terraced house. (trying to cut down/save money in all ways really, but thats fodder for another thread I think!). Several friends have commented that I seem to do a lot of laundry; I estimate for a household of me, DH, DD(4) and DS(1) I seem to do probably on average 3 or 4 loads a day. I don't think I over-launder, but friends with similar households all seem to say they only do one or maybe two loads max. Heres what I seem to do in a week and in () the loads of washing it creates:

Bedding for our bed, daughters bed, cot. One bed change a week each. (3)
DS's Grobags, prob has a clean one every third night, totalling (1) per week.
Bathsheet and towel each for me and DH, bath towel each for DC's, bathmat. Change weekly (3). Handtowels for both loo's I change twice a week, teatowels prob three a week, so totalling (1). Swimming once a week so 4 lots of swimwear, two grown up towels, two small towels (2).
PJ's and vest for baby (clean every day, so 7 lots) and PJ's for daughter who invariably gets breakfast down hers and it's rare she doesn't have a clean pair most nights, totalling (2). DS's daytime clothes, plus the invariable changes due to leaked nappy, spilt food, bibs etc (1). DD's non-uniform clothes, if shes going to play somewhere after school, weekend wear etc (1)
5 work shirts for DH, 5 t-shirts he wears under work shirts (cold office!) (1)
DD's school uniform, polo shirt, skirt, tights, vest, cardigan. Rarely a day passes where I don't need to wash the whole lot. She's only little and gets lunch on herself, or glue, snot, paint, etc! probably (2) a week although I do have to wash her burgundy cardis seperately as they run.
My work clothes, I have a clean top/blouse every day and try to make trousers last two days, so would guess (1) total a week
non-work clothes for me (wear two nights running, jeans and top for example), weekend clothes, and same for DH (2). PJ's for me, again I invariably end up with baby breakfast and am a bit fussy and change every second night. DH's PJ's once a week so (1). DH is also going a lot of work on the house and garden, and I seem to get a load of work clothes at the end of the weekend too (1)

So thats 21 loads, before anything "incidental" happens - bed accident (rare, but still occasional), changing cot sheets daily when baby has a snotty cold, someones coat needs a wash through, washable sofa covers if something gets spilt, matress covers need a wash, etc, etc.

I wash everything on a 30 minute fast wash where possible. I use a 40 degree slightly longer wash for bedding and towels, and do an extra 10 minute 1600 spin to get them as dry as possible.

And I know I'm a bandit for doing it, but 80% of all the above goes through the dryer too - so therein lies my theory that a significant portion of our fuel costs derive from the above! The dryer is often on for 2+ hours a day.

I'm tight as a wedge with the heating so don't want to start drying stuff on the radiators. Do heated airers work? I don't want another outlay of £30 odd when I really can't afford it unless I will be able to recoup that relatively quickly.

There must be something I can do to cut this back or significantly save money. Anyone got any bright ideas?

vodkaanddietirnbru Thu 25-Oct-12 09:56:25

how big is your machine? - some of your loads seem quite small e.g. I have a 6kg machine and can fit 3 big bath towels and hand towels in one load. I can also fit all of dd/ds's school clothes into 1 load (skirts, trousers and polo shirts). Do you do mixed loads with yours and the kids stuff e.g. if the machine isnt full enough with the clothes from me/dh then I'll add in some of the kids stuff to make sure I am doing a full load. I do proper longer washes too as clothes dont always come clean with the shorter cycles and then you have clothes to rewash.

I also dont do a bed change for all of us every week (normally every couple of weeks). Grobags never got changed until they were dirty/been puked or peed on.

I do quite lot of washing too as dh goes to the gym 4 mornings a week, I do exercise classes 3 mornings a week and dh also plays football 2 evenings a week and I have his work stuff to wash plus the kids school stuff. I dont tumble dry though unless I have seriously run out of space to hang stuff and use 2 clothes airers (not heated) instead.

SoggySummer Thu 25-Oct-12 09:56:49

I am watching this with interest as we seem to have a stupid amount of laundry in this house too.

Its towels with us. Dont know what it is with my disgusting family but I seem to be the only one who actually hangs a towel up so it can air after use. The best the rest of the family manage is a screwed up mass more less balancing in the towel rail which then goes fousty smelling and icky in a day or 2. No matter how much I explain, ask etc - I come home to this most days. Most of my washing is towels which are a nightmare to dry.

One place I really think you could cur down is with the tumble drying tbh. I generally air all my washing even on the line or on a clothes horse before I tumble.

Even yesterday ( a very dull and dark day) I put a kingsize duvet and 3 bathsheets on the line at mid day and when I got them in at 5.40pm (was home a bit later than planned) they were significantly lighter and drier than when I put them out. I dont like towels dried in the house as they go a bit cardboard so they went in the tumbler straight away but the bedding I left on a clothes horse overnight and will pop that in the tumbler later this morning to finish off. I do hate having washing hanging around and am lucky to make use of a spare room I can shut the door on when I do this. I so this even whenI dont have the heat on - last night I had it on for an hour but even when I dont the washing still seems to dry a little.

Only on wet weekends when the turnaround with games kit and uniforms etc do I ever go straight from washer to tumbler.

TobyLerone Thu 25-Oct-12 09:57:08

You seem to wash some of your things less frequently than I do, but I don't do 3 or 4 loads of laundry a day confused

You do need to stop using the dryer so much, though. I use mine for bath towels (handtowels and teatowels go on the airer), bedding, shirts (because I am too lazy to iron anything) and jeans. Everything else gets hung on the airer (non-heated) or on hangers in doorways. It's always dry within 24 hours and never smells damp (and I'm weird about how my laundry smells, so I'd definitely know if it did).

I have the heating on for 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening if it's cold enough for it to come on (thermostat on about 17C). I dry thick things like hoodies on the radiators.

I would like a heated airer, and think that the outlay would be worth it for you.

My combined gas/electric bill is under £100/month, and that's for me, DP, DS(13) and DD(11). And I'm really not tight with it.

Wallison Thu 25-Oct-12 10:07:12

I don't knows much about tumble dryers as I don't have one, but I have heard they're expensive - don't know if they're more expensive than heating but at least if you've got the heating on you'd be warm as well, and 2+ hours is enough to pretty much dry a load of washing if you put it on an airer in a room with heating on. Also, I agree with SoggySummer that even on cold days it's worth hanging the washing out, especially if there's a bit of wind - it's still drier than when it's taken out of the machine. Also, as long as there's no rain I sometimes hang mine out at night - honestly, it works!

alabasterangel Thu 25-Oct-12 10:08:03

Thanks.
Being honest the dryer ends up being used because of space - I don't have a spare room to air stuff in, only the dining room which is closed off and the radiator switch off anyway. I wonder if it's more effiicient to have the radiator on and dry the washing there, or have it off and use the dryer? Even so that one radiator wouldn't dry much, which is why I thought about putting a heated airer in there. I can't use the kitchen radiator as the kitchen is the coldest room in the house and I don't want to block the heat. Heating is currently only on for 2 hours a day, although more over this weekend as its looking colder.

I do combine things, yes. I think maybe is hold stop being a stickler for always having an empty basket. Perhaps if I waited a few more days, i could combine more / cram in more! My machine is a 7kg load but I'm never really sure when it's properly full and my mother is always commenting how you should never overfill it as it'll knacker it! I'd guess two big bath sheets and a hand towel would be a full load to me.....

Then of course there is the laundry powder too. I use a 25 load box each week, plus a big fabric softener (always use more than the stated amount as otherwise I don't think it smells nice, bad habit I know) and therefore I suspect laundry 'goods' are costing another £9 a week odd!!!!

alabasterangel Thu 25-Oct-12 10:08:42

Might restrict the dryer for the whole of November and see how that makes a difference..... We have an energy monitor so it should be visible.....

alabasterangel Thu 25-Oct-12 10:09:46

.....also its the ironing thing. I save sooooooo much time not ironing (time I don't have!) by folding things straight out of the dryer?!

TobyLerone Thu 25-Oct-12 10:11:32

2 bath sheets and a hand towel is NOT a full load!

notcitrus Thu 25-Oct-12 10:16:58

Keep putting more stuff in your loads - if you get a load out that doesn't smell quite so fresh, then you know it was too full - not the end of the world.
For reference, can't get kingsize duvet cover and sheet in at the same time, but one can easily go in with four pillowcases, toddler sheet and a couple grobags and hankies.

Wallison Thu 25-Oct-12 10:17:07

I only do the towels every two weeks. I mean, I change them between that, and make sure they're dry when I put them in the laundry basket, and then bung them all in together when there aren't any clean ones left. I get loads in. And they're definitely clean because (I am proud of this even though it's a little sad) friends have often commented on how white they are.

MrsBungleBear Thu 25-Oct-12 10:17:57

2 bath sheets and a towel is no where near a full 7kg machine load.

My dc are the same age as yours and I wash about 3 or 4 times a week. Often less. Gro bags only washed when dirty, same with baby vests etc.

I don't have a drier. Everything Hung on a non heated clothes horse which is next to a radiator.

TobyLerone Thu 25-Oct-12 10:22:28

You can't get a king sized duvet cover in the machine along with a sheet? My entire bedding set (2 pillow cases, king sized duvet cover, double fitted sheet) is a load in my 6kg machine.

vodkaanddietirnbru Thu 25-Oct-12 10:23:50

A full load is where it is full enough that you are left with a hand space (hand turned on its side with thumb at the top) from the top of the clothes to the drum. I tend to do a few loads one day and then none or only 1 the next day (gives the other stuff time to dry)

Wallison Thu 25-Oct-12 10:26:19

I haven't got a king size bed but I easily fit a duvet, sheet and two pillow cases in mine. No idea what size the machine is though but it is however a very old basic one (so old that it doesn't even have a 30 degree wash option on it).

forevergreek Thu 25-Oct-12 10:28:24

We do at less than that

How big is your washing machine?

We do approx:
1 load with towels
2 loads with bedding
1 white wash
1 dark wash

That's in a week, so 5 washes? Do bedding and towels on a sat usually, and clothes random evening when full, so only 2-3 days we actually wash

Adults- no pjs
Kids- 1-2 pairs of pjs a week

Cot bed sheets, kids duvet cover, 1 gro bag, pillow cases fit in one load easily.

Tea towels etc just go in with towels

Can you daughter wear a bib or something to stop breakfast on pjs every day? Ikea do nice wipe able ones

Floralnomad Thu 25-Oct-12 10:28:27

You are definitely not doing big enough loads . Are your tumble dryer and washing machine energy efficient as I do more washing than you and run a tumble dryer for a few hours 4/5 times a week and my bills aren't that high .

Wallison Thu 25-Oct-12 10:28:46

Duvet cover I mean, not duvet. I don't live in a launderette.

nbee84 Thu 25-Oct-12 10:31:25

You should fill the drum of the washing machine with the items and when you put your hand into to the top you should be able to press them down to about 3/4 height easily. If you have stuffed the items in and cannot push down in them easily then you have put too much in. Don't forget when the water goes in they compress down.

Another way to check is to bundle up your washing so that you can pick it all up at once - then weigh yourself without the washing, then again with and you'll be able to see how much you've got. 7kg is quite a big capacity.

From the Which website;

6kg machine
6 small towels
2 pillowcases
6 T-shirts
2 sheets
2 pairs of jeans
14 socks

7.5kg machine
6 small towels
2 pillowcases
10 T-shirts
2 sheets
4 pairs of jeans
14 socks

Iggly Thu 25-Oct-12 10:32:48

3-4 loads a day!!

And over using laundry powder hmm you can't smell it because your nose gets used to it so you use more... Best thing to do is switch scents or brands every few weeks or so, then the smell is new and you use less.

Combine loads more. Get over the empty basket thing.

Fist your machine to check if full. Ie can you fit your fist in, then it's not over loaded.

marquesas Thu 25-Oct-12 10:35:30

Your list was a bit long for me to take in but there's no way that a family of 4 needs to be doing 3 loads a day. I couldn't find that much to wash unless I did all the bedding every single day.

I have a load on at the moment which includes a king size duver cover, a bottom sheet, a mattrass protector sheet and pjs and some others mall items. afaik my machine is 6kg - is there a reason you can't put more things in your machine.

Am I understanding correctly that you wash 2 grobags per week and that's a whole load?

In the nicest possible way, lighten up a bit and stuff a bit more in each time and you'll be able to cut the loads in half.

Iggly Thu 25-Oct-12 10:36:01

Also use your rumble dryer more cleverly - things that take longer to dry (towels and jeans) will obviously need a longer tumble. So take out the other lighter stuff and it will be dry first then tumble the towels etc.

TobyLerone Thu 25-Oct-12 10:36:46

"Fist your machine"

<snurk>

Naghoul Thu 25-Oct-12 10:37:36

I wash the same amount of stuff as you, but I pack it into 6-8 loads a week.

I thought you were going to be one of those people who washes a towel everytime someone dries their arse grin

Thelobsterswife Thu 25-Oct-12 10:38:02

Your loads aren't big enough as others have said. Other than the school cardigans (my DDs also run) colour catchers are great for doing a big load of mixed colours and in the main, prevent colour runs. If you have banisters on a landing upstairs, they are fab for draping towels and sheets over to dry them. My tumble dryer broke and I hate not tumbling towels but you can buy towel softener to use instead of fabric conditioner which helps a little. I have a heated airer that I love but I am not convinced it is that much cheaper. I think I remember PigletJohn saying the most efficient way to dry clothes is to put them in a room with an airer in and with an extractor fan on if you have one in your bathroom. I know some people use dehumidifers to the same affect. Your bills are very high. My three bed semi was about half that, albeit a new build and therefore presumably more energy efficient.

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