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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?

alabasterangel Thu 25-Oct-12 12:08:35

PoppyA - where do you have the pulleymaid? I'm not sure where it would go. Kitchen ceiling is pitched and sloping. Can see how they work though. Quite like the idea!

Tuga - loft already insulated, then double insulated with a ton of crap stored on top of it!!! Can't insulate walls - terraced house and no cavity on the front and rear walls. Kitchen is huge, high ceilings and one wall completely glass (albeit double glazed) which sucks up a lot of the heat.

Going to dig out the clothes horse when I get home!

NewNames Thu 25-Oct-12 12:11:09

Yikes. Do you guys have jobs? How on earth do you find the time to do so much washing? And more to the point, the inclination?!

You won't wish you'd had cleaner towels when you're on your death bed. Just wash stuff less. Simple!

MrsCantSayAnything Thu 25-Oct-12 12:18:35

I do sheets and towels together and I do one black wash, one colour wash and one white wash every two days. There are 2 adults and 2 DC here.

Fluffycloudland77 Thu 25-Oct-12 12:20:57

It's the air in insulation that provides the insulation, if you have "stuff" on top of it squashing it down then you wont be getting the maximum benefit from it.

Check you washing machine manual, you can down load them free off the internet too, and check each cycles Kwh useage. Mine uses more electric on the 30 cotton than the 40 cotton to make up for a lower temperature it agitates the washing more and so uses more power.

I'm only spending £65 a month on a 4 bed detached.

CelineMcBean Thu 25-Oct-12 12:22:28

Wow that is loads of washing! Yyy to bigger loads. If space is tight or not enough wall space for a pulleymaid an over bath airer might be an option?

My top tip is don't put things actually on a radiator. It will stop the hot air circulating and will only dry those things actually on it. An a-frame airer put sideways on to a radiator will dry more things more quickly - just make sure there is nothing in front of the side so the warmed air can get in.

There really is no need to clear the laundry bag every day. Do washes based on colours/fabric type. I do a wool wash or a hand wash cycle every couple of weeks or so and "normal" washes every couple of days and have clothes in with towels and sheets. If it's a dry day I put some laundry on to save the dryer/airer clutter.

Your energy costs seem huge! Have you got insulation? Are your windows and doors as air tight as they could be? If not a curtain or blind will make a difference.

DorisIsWaiting Thu 25-Oct-12 12:26:04

Personally I would use your dining room as a drying room we have a playroom /drying room. ( hang larger clothes on coat hanger on the curatin poles (dual aspect) and then the smaller clothes I dry on a rack (like those you can get in Lidl) we dry only socks pants and flannels in the tumble dryer (normally 1 load a week ).

NB Family of 5 but youngest is 3. DD's have red school cardigans but they all get left until friday and I do a navy red jumpers tights and skirt wash and anything of dh/mine that is v dark.

tbh I mostly wash at the weekend then the playroom can be used once the washing is cleared and the loads or maximised for ecconomy.

I also only washed growbags when they needed it same with children's bedding.

CelineMcBean Thu 25-Oct-12 12:26:04

I don't use fabric softener either - it's a waste of money. I also don't buy branded washing powder/liquid unless it's on some amazing offer.

I always use about 2/3 or half the amount of detergent recommended. It still washes fine. You can also cut your powder with soda crystals. I usually do 50/50. A big bag of soda crystals is about 80p.

Babyrabbits Thu 25-Oct-12 12:27:06

I read that each 1 hour cycle of tumble dryer costs from 35 to 50 p!!!

BiddyPop Thu 25-Oct-12 12:27:36

If you only go swimming once a week, you should be able to just dry the gear and reuse it the following week - it should only need cleaning about every 2-3 weeks (I swim 2-3 times a week at the gym, and only change towels once every week or 2).

Do you have any outside space to hang clothes? I really would do that. And while putting things on rads mightn't be an option, putting them on a clothes horse overnight and then finishing off in tumble dryer would reduce drying time in the machine a LOT.

And I agree with others that the loads do sound small. With a sports and outdoor mad DD (6) with no uniform (so lots of sports gear and possibly jeans etc too daily - always need changing cos gets covered in mud), DH who also wears tshirts under workshirts, and individual towels household, and teenage au pair, I do an average of about 5-8 loads per week.

PropositionJoe Thu 25-Oct-12 12:29:36

We have a five bed semi with high ceilings and a family of four. I wash daily but not more than that. I think our bill is £140 PCM for gas and electricity. I agree that you need a rack or two in your dining room and bigger machine loads. I also think you need to get used to the idea that the laundry basket will always have stuff in it, that's what it's for! Try to limit yourself to one wash a day, see how you get on. Fewer vests and babygros for the baby, does your daughters bed really need doing every week, swimming towels don't need washing every time if you hang them out as soon as you get home.

M and S do yellow polo shirts.

Wallison Thu 25-Oct-12 12:31:58

Actually, and this is a bit of a tangent so sorry and I'll understand if people don't want to answer, but speaking of mud I have a question. I find that if I don't wash/soak muddy clothes immediately, they just don't get clean. Is that the same for everyone or do I just have a crap machine?

Kind of an academic question really as I can't afford to get a new one but I am wondering.

moogalicious Thu 25-Oct-12 12:34:51

£200p/m shock

We are a family of 5 and our combined bill is £90p/m. So -

- I don't wash swimwear after each lesson, just rinse and dry
- childrens bedclothes don't need changing every week. Every 2 weeks here
- ditto towels
- if school trousers/skirt have a small stain I just wipe it off
- dc's stay in their uniform after school. The tops are dirty anyway, so what's the point of changing them. They take their jumpers off to eat.
- I have a 7.5kg machine

I probably do a couple of dark washes, one light, one whites and one woolly each week.

CelineMcBean Thu 25-Oct-12 12:47:40

Gosh do at least give swimming stuff a thorough rinse or the chlorine will perish the fabric. Which is expensive and potentially embarrassing!

I'd put swimming stuff straight in machine, rinse it but stop before the spin and then add rest of a load. Like one does with nappies.

I also have a lidded bucket - actually a nappy pale - that any weed/sicked on/otherwise damp/filthy stuff goes in. Then I do the rinse and add rest of load with that depending on what's in the bucket and laundry bag. Just make sure the pale gets completely emptied and cleaned every couple of days.

alabasterangel Thu 25-Oct-12 13:06:44

In a previous life, my eh-h used to play cricket and I had the delightful task of trying to remove caked in mud from nylon cricket whites that could only be washed at 40.

Tried every bloody available thing, and in the end the only thing that got mud out was an overnight bucket soak in old-fashioned bio-tex (you can still get it in wilkos and tesco I believe). But yes, the sooner the soak happens the better. Days old mud is a sod to shift.....

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 25-Oct-12 13:08:06

Agree that your loads are far too small. Surely you can get cot bedding and single bedding in one load?

And yes you have to stop obsessing about the basket being empty. I know you don't want to let it build up, but it sounds like you are a bit OTT with it.

We are a family of four. DH wears a shirt to work every day, DS1 has uniform, 19 month old wears at least one full outfit every day, I rarely get more than one night out of pjs for the DCs or myself, DH goes two nights. I wear jeans 2-3 days before I wash them, clean top for me every day.
Bedding gets changed once a week, our bed is a kingsize and with all the pillowcases that makes a full load. DSs bedding is most of another load but I always put in some pjs etc with that to make it up to full size. Towels we change once a week, kitchen and downstairs loo ones get changed twice a week, I do two loads of towels each week.

On average I do 2 loads a day. Occasionally none, always at least one, sometimes 3-4 if I'm having a catch up or washing extra things like coats or blankets.

The amount you are spending on laundry stuff is bonkers too. I buy the huge bottles of Persil non-bio and colour liquid. Each does 54 washes, which is roughly a month at around 2 loads a day. Always buy it on offer at £6 a bottle instead of £12 which is the 'normal' price. So £6 a month, plus some of a bottle of fabric conditioner and I also put a colour catcher in 80% of my loads. I reckon I spend no more than £2-2.50 a week on laundry products.

Wallison Thu 25-Oct-12 13:12:00

Thanks alabaster. I shall just carry on soaking then and not blame my ancient machine. My son is obsessed with football and seems to spend most of his days whether at school or on the weekend sliding around and doing what he calls 'tackles' (I don't know much about football but I always thought that getting the ball was the aim, rather than trying to cover every inch of your clothing (and hair) with mud).

ScarePhyllis Thu 25-Oct-12 13:14:15

The amount of washing you are doing is utterly crazy. No wonder it is costing you a fortune.

OK, this is how I would do it:

- Bedding - sheets and pillowcases changed once a week. Duvet turned over after one week and cover washed every two weeks.
- Do you and DH need to have a bathsheet and a bathtowel each week? Could you use just one bathsheet, or two towels? It would just cut down on the weight a bit. I probably use about two towels a week.
- Change grobags only when dirty, or at the end of a week if unsoiled.
- Change handtowels once a week.
- Everyone takes a used towel swimming.
- Teatowels - this will be controversial but I change once a week. But I have a dishwasher so I don't actually use them very much.
- Handwash school cardis so you're not running a full load just to do them.
- DD wears wipable apron to eat breakfast and dinner, thus saving PJs and possibly cutting down on spillage on uniform in evenings. You wear apron to give baby breakfast.
- Buying extra uniform not a bad idea if it stops you doing a wash just to clean a few things each night.
- If stuff is spilled on DD's pinafore/cardigan/skirt try to get it out by just soaking the spot in a bit of water and a little bit of laundry detergent. It doesn't necessarily need to go on a full wash.
- I would make trousers last longer than 2 days, rotating days of wearing them to give them an airing (unless you have a very physical job). Especially the ones worn in the evening unless you're going to the gym in them or something.
- Do a 60 degree wash for towels, bedding and whites - I don't think they get clean properly unless you do this - and a 30 for everything else.
- Load machine fully - don't do a wash until you have a full load.
- Scrap the dryer and get a dehumidifier and/or heated airer - towels may be an exception though. Using airer etc will get a load dry overnight. It's insane to be tight about heating and to run the dryer for 2+ hours a day.


ClareMarriott Thu 25-Oct-12 14:13:44

Heavens, all this precision about washing clothes. !!! Unless something is seriously going to run just ram in enough for a full load, chuck in some powder and let it start !! I don't have a tumble drier so hang everything on free standing driers and I have'nt ironed anything for about 35 years !!! Think of all the other things you could be doing when you're pondering what to do with this or that piece of clothing !!!

Your loads are way too small IMO. I have 4 people here, me DH dd (8) and ds (6). I do about 3-4 loads a week. Bedding is done every 2-3 weeks, towels once a week (dried on heated towel rail every day) school clothes only get changed if dirty (and baby wipes take most lunch spills/paint off of jumpers), dcs do have clean pjs each night but me and DH don't wear any. Everything gets hung to dry on an airer in the living room (can take 36 hrs this time of year but turning things can speed it up). I don't iron anything except DHs work and dcs school shirts. Everything else is hung out flat straight from the machine.

AGeeksWife Thu 25-Oct-12 14:49:00

I do 1 load a day (2 on Sundays)- Monday, Wednesday, Friday is nappies, Tuesday is darks, Thursday is lights, Saturday is darks and Sundays is towels and bedding. That's for 2 adults, one small child and a toddler.

I do have quite a big drum but I wouldn't want to do anymore, I'd feel I was constantly washing!

nannyl Thu 25-Oct-12 16:36:25

another vote that your loads are way too small

i get our (kingsize) bed linen and cot linen and grobags and some muslins and other white smalls in 1 load.
(OR kingsize bed linen, and all the bath towels)

I do all our swimming stuff and swimming towels and a load of clothes as 1 load

i also do 30 cloth nappies, perhaps 5 wraps, 40 cloth wipes, and a changing mat cover as 1 load.

and i use 1/4 (MAX) of the amount of detergent you are supposed to use.

alabasterangel Thu 25-Oct-12 17:40:44

Oh dear..... I've come home, gathered up all the washing I could locate and normally that would be switched on without a thought. However, this time I squashed it down and blush there is still about 40% of the drum free (so I'm guessing about 30% more useable space.

I feel like a complete plank for not investigating this before. I have of course now not put the load on and will wait for further dirties before doing so.
I also tested the stuff from the dryer this morning, and it's still slightly damp. I'd have wacked that on for another 20 mins without thinking twice. Instead I've taken it out, and put up the airer in the dining room and moved a couple of chairs that were in the way in front of the radiator.

Am hoping this will all help. Basically I need to find/save/be better off by about £150 a month minimum (not just with laundry I might add!). I made a big, financially painful decision to return to work p/t this June, based on stress levels and wanting to spend more time with the kids. Unfortunately my employer hugely messed up, and so did I (not realising) and now I have an overpayment on my wages to pay back along with a tax underpayment from the last 2 years for my company car. Basically I'm going to be £100 a month worse off than my usual p/t wage for about 18 months, and it's struggle enough without any more loss.

I'm seriously hoping to at least make the fuel bills more like even £140 than £190 and then thats already £50 saved.......

TobyLerone Thu 25-Oct-12 17:43:05

Well done! MN wisdom strikes again grin

SoggySummer Thu 25-Oct-12 19:04:53

With the towels - they take ages in tumbler. They still come up soft and fluffy if you part dry them first on the airer or the line.

I have a bit of a rotation system going. As stuff come out the washer I remove yesterdays from the radiators or clothes horse and stuff thats not dry I finish off in the tumbler. Generally I try to hold off as long as I can putting stuff in the drier. Even without the heat on the longer its on the airer the drier it will be and the less tumbler time it will need.

sweetkitty Thu 25-Oct-12 19:11:42

There's 6 of us here I do a load a day in a 9 kg machine.

I hang the load on an airer overnight and tumble in the morning, cuts drying time in half.

Beds changed fortnightly, PJs clean on 3 times a week after baths, new towels every bath/shower. School uniform I can get 2 days out of unless they spill something down it.

I think you do an excessive amount of laundry our combined fuel bill is £109 a month, I'm a SAHM do in the house a lot and I'm always freezing and don't scrimp with the heating.

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