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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?

TobyLerone Thu 25-Oct-12 10:42:06

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

I am one of those people and I still only do probably 1 load of washing a day.

nbee84 Thu 25-Oct-12 10:45:15

Lobster - I think some of the heated airers are very cheap to run. This one says 5p per hour and others I have seen usually state the costs are equivalent to a lightbulb switched on. The extractor fan in my bathroom only runs with the light switched on so is actually using more electricity than just a lightbulb on it's own would.

raindroprhyme Thu 25-Oct-12 10:46:15

what size is a small towel?

we have 5 of us, plus swimming and rugby 3 times a week. and some one at the gym every day.

i do 1 load a day and then 2 saturday 2 sunday for towels bed clothes which generally get changed every 2 weeks.

everyone has a large washing basket in their room which are never empty and anythign they want washed immediatly goes in the machin as they take it off so is combined in that days load

i have strarted using the scoop from the vanish oxi tub as my washing powder scoop so i am not tempted to use too much powder and i have a ceiling airer and tumble dryer.

We are a family of 4, I probably do 5 or 6 loads of clothes a week plus one of sheets, one of towels and one of the DCs sheets every other week. I think I do more than I need to, the DCs clothes often go in when they aren't really dirty.

All those swimming towels don't need to be washed every time, either take the ones you are using that week from the bathroom or dry and save the swimming ones for next week. We have a 7kg machine and For a towel load there are usually two bathmats, two bath sheets, various small handtowels, a couple of tea towels and a few e-cloths. For bedding, a kingsize duvet cover, fitted sheet and 4 pillowcases easily fits in with probably a couple of hand towels and tea towels as well. Clothes I do one lot of whites, one lot of reds/pinks and 3 or 4 lots of other mixed colours.

Also, I use tablets instead of powder, only use one per wash instead of two and never use fabric conditioner (can't stand the smell, obviously we differ on that).

Naghoul Thu 25-Oct-12 10:53:07

<wonders if I should buy special small arse-only towels> grin

Iggly Thu 25-Oct-12 11:03:18

grin Toby, I got that from another MNer <what a surprise>

MrsHoarder Thu 25-Oct-12 11:12:25

We are a family of 3, and I run the machine once most days.

That day I decide whether I need to do a darks or whites wash (yes, my washing machine is clearly racist), then everything that isn't woolens or bedding goes in that wash. I never have a backlog and throw towels, gro bag etc in whn there's space. If its not raining washing goes on the line if its nice enough to dry completely in the day or on the decking on airers (for easier moving in and out). It has to be an exceptionally messy wash (poo explosion) for me to use 2 tablets instead of 1.

Drier only used if its raining and never on work clothes (apparently it makes them harder to iron).

MrsHoarder Thu 25-Oct-12 11:14:20

And yes, take your "old" towel swimming and then wash it and get a fresh one for the bathroom. Anything else is madness.

I echo the rest, your loads sound far too small!

Myself and DD (teenage, so adult size clothes) have about 4 washes a week in total (that's 2 each) - you're averaging 7 per person! We seem to change beds/towels about as often as you do.

One thing that I find handy is to buy loads of knickers and socks each. You'll then always have clean kaks/socks, so won't put on a small wash to ensure you have some for the next day, and won't be tempted to use the tumble dryer so often.

I'm in a 3 bed terrace (like you) with no tumble dryer and I dry my clothes on the rads, the upstairs bannisters (4 horizontal planks, they hold a full wash) and in the spare room on a non heated airer (no rad ever switched on in that room. The door is ajar though so fresh air circulates). I also put small things (underwear, tea towels) on one of those octopus things from IKEA - air circulates round them and they dry in a day or so. I also never switch on the rad in the hall - no one is ever in the hall for more than 60 secs!

My electric bill is about £60 pm and oil is about £47 pm so total £107 pm - half of yours (however, I work FT and DD is at secondary school so we are only in the house in mornings and evenings during the week).

I'm also a divil for things like leaving the extractor switched on after I cook - I intend it to be on for 5 mins to get rid of the smells and 30 mins later I remember and run back in to switch it off - so I'm not a poster girl for saving energy. I reckon if you use your energy monitor to find the high energy appliances you could comfortably get your bill down 30-40%. Actually if you do, please come back with your tips!

WitchesTit Thu 25-Oct-12 11:17:47

I have a 7kg washing machine and can get double, single and cot bedding in one load. So one a week.
All towels and bath sheets and mats go in one load. So one a week.
Baby's grow bags go in with his clothes of which I do 2 loads a week.
I do a general clothes wash once a week and DHs and school clothes on a Friday, so that's another 2 a week.
We also have reusable nappies so that's an extra 2 loads a week but they only take up a small amount of space so I usually end up chucking whatever dirty towels are hanging about in too which takes away from the towel only load so then those towels get chucked in with the general wash.
That adds up to 7 loads a week, but I don't have the washing machine running every day so I must be doing more juggling and cramming in than I thought!

The big problem is getting it dry in this weather. It's hanging all round the house and just ends up smelling weird.
A devils own machine, the terible tumble dryer is definitely top of the list grin

Fluffycloudland77 Thu 25-Oct-12 11:22:51

The quick wash often uses more electric than a normal cycle, so a lot of the money is probably going on the washing machine as well as the dryer.

Have you checked to see if you are on the cheapest tariff? we dont have the heating on much but a wash can dry on a clothes horse overnight in this house.

noseymcposey Thu 25-Oct-12 11:27:39

That is an insane amount of washing! I think I do too much and I do about a load a day shock

I would suspect that putting the heating on is cheaper than having the drier on for 2 hours a day. We have the heating on for a couple of hours a day at the moment and have things on radiators and also have three drying racks for hanging things on. I can't swear to that but it might be worth a try.

All our washing goes in different baskets divided into whites, lights, colours, darks and towels and when I have enough for each loads to fill the machine then it goes on whether that means mixing different types of washing.

For example you have 2 loads of washing for your daughters pj's. Even a new pair every day mean that's 7.5 items of 4 year old clothing per wash. I would say if I'm doing a wash for a child I have nearer 20 as a rough guess.

The good news it that you can easily cut your bills just by filling the machine up and also hanging stuff out to dry.

WhinGin Thu 25-Oct-12 11:28:18

To make sure you are filling your machine to capacity you could buy one of those scales for holiday luggage that you hang your suitcase on to weigh it, I picked one up in the supermarket for a couple of pounds, and put your laundry in a bag to weigh it. Until this moment I had never thought of this but as I have no clue how much my washer holds in kgs it is of no use to me grin

TheregoesBod Thu 25-Oct-12 11:28:50

I think the tumble dryer is a big part of your problem. I hang the washing out even on slightly damp dreary days (like today!), then bring it in and tumble dry it just to finish it off. It seems to cut down the time needed in the dryer by 80% (disclaimer -that's a guesstimate, I haven't sat and timed two identical loads!).

Sometimes I would rather hang particulaly thick things over a chair placed by a radiator to finish them off- I figure if I'm going to pay I would rather have the heating on than the dryer!

LaCerbiatta Thu 25-Oct-12 11:36:31

We're a same size family and do 6-7 washes a week.
The only thing I would add is we save loads on detergent by using Eco balls - I reduce the amount of powder to approx half. I bought a 4.5kg of persil for 12 pounds at the beginning of august and We still have maybe 1/5 th left. And We don't use conditioner.

alabasterangel Thu 25-Oct-12 11:36:35

Okay..... so for November then....

- stuff more in. It's a 12 month old, efficient machine and obviously what I need to do is hold back on automatically trying to clear the laundry basket every day or so and put more in each load.
- slow down and divide out the wet washing into stuff which I can get away with drying on an airer, and stuff like towels which I will still use the dryer for.
-cut back! Eg. Baby has clean vest both at bedtime and in the morning. If he's getting dressed in the morning I'll leave the vest on from the night before (it'll be less hassle too). Try to cut back on DD's PJ's.
-buy a couple more school polo's and cardi's, so I can stave off/save up washes. At the moment she only has two polos and two cardis so I tend to be washing them midweek all the time. I've also twigged that I can possibly find somewhere that sells her polo colour (bright yellow!) without the badge which has to be therefore got from the uniform shop, because on days when she wears a pinafore you can't see the badge anyway?! Cheaper option maybe!

I'll see where this leads us is November. The energy meter is quite good as it allows you to compare months, so we'll see how we get on. Would be nice to be free from constantly doing so much laundry too!

As for the bills, well..... they are still astounding me anyway. We pay £192 on the cheapest possible researched provider and tarrif. We were so concerned we even got someone to check that the meters weren't faulty. I think the problem is also the house - it's a three bed terraced but it's big - 35ft kitchen which is really chilly, 9ft ceilings, etc. Basically a terribly unefficient old house. I have the heating on for 2 hours at the moment, but that will probably go up to 4 hours this weekend. We also light our open fire from 6pm onwards so add on the cost of coal and wood to the above (probably another £20 a month). I still think it's astronomical......

LaCerbiatta Thu 25-Oct-12 11:39:02

Oh and we live in a 4 bed terraced and pay 65 pounds per month for gas+elec.

Woodlands Thu 25-Oct-12 11:42:06

One full load for me is a double duvet cover, two pillowcases, two bath sheets and two hand towels.

We are two adults and one toddler and we do about 3-4 loads a week (though we only change bedding fortnightly, yes, I know we ming). We live in a 2-bed flat and don't have a tumble drier. We have a Lakeland heated airer (which lives in DS's room) which gets a load dry in about 24 hours. We hang other washing on radiators/bannisters even if the heating's not on - it doesn't take too long to dry. This time of year is the hardest, when it's too cold/wet to dry washing outside but yet the heating's not yet on.

LaCerbiatta Thu 25-Oct-12 11:46:01

If your house is that inefficient, have you considered insulating? We did that last year, both loft and walls and it made a huge difference. Cut our spending 30 pounds per month. And we're now warm and comfortable! smile

bbface Thu 25-Oct-12 11:54:50

your loads sound too small, but overwhelmingly it will be the tumble dryer that will be causing the most cost. Try to cut that down, and THEN you will see your bills fall.

PoppyAmex Thu 25-Oct-12 11:55:04

Agree that the main problem seems to be the small loads - I think if you actually use the full capacity of your machine you'll cut the washings by half (at least).

I have a tumble dryer and would never get rid of it, but my Pulley Maid is just one of the best buys ever; efficient, dries things really fast and eco friendly. Might be worth considering?

bbface Thu 25-Oct-12 11:55:44

Woodlands, that strikes me as an enormous load! that would definitely be two loads for me.

TuftyFinch Thu 25-Oct-12 12:02:30

We've got one of those pulley dryers that go on the ceiling. It's at the top of the stairs on the ceiling. It can take an 8kg load and as heat rises it dries relatively quickly and can be folded and put straight away. It keeps it contained to one area.

TuftyFinch Thu 25-Oct-12 12:03:43

X post with poppy who's post was much clearer!

Wallison Thu 25-Oct-12 12:04:49

That pulleymaid looks brilliant and reminds me of a clothes-drying apparatus that a very handy-with-a-toolbox friend rigged up in a house we lived in - it was enormous but we were in an enormous house so it worked brilliantly - even with four of us we could all get our washing on it, and it was above a radiator so it all dried really quickly. It was kind of like the pulleymaid but it had several levels to it - all suspended from the ceiling but with a rope to pull it down. It really was a work of genius.

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