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Save money by doing laundry the 'right way'

Posted September 24, 2014 5:00 p.m. EDT
Updated September 24, 2014 5:41 p.m. EDT

Consumer Reports tests laundry detergents

Believe it or not, there is a “right way” to do your laundry, especially if you are hoping to save money.

The average family does 400 loads per year, and the constant use of water, detergent and energy adds up.

Follow this checklist to avoid money-wasting habits:

  • Pay attention to how much detergent you need. Overuse of detergent can add time to rinse cycles. Trace the fill line on detergent tops to make sure it can be seen.
  • Use cold water. As much as 90 percent of the energy spent on a load is used heating the water. In most cases, you won’t notice a difference in how clean clothes get.
  • Wash full loads only. It lessens wear and tear on the washer. When washing a smaller load, adjust the load size. Always use the highest spin setting that fabrics allow.
  • When using a newer dryer, allow the moisture sensor decide when the clothes are dry. Avoid using “timed” and “auto-dry” settings.
  • Fabric softener sheets can gum up the sensors, making the dryer run longer. Wipe them out monthly with rubbing alcohol. Read your owner's manual to find your sensors.
  • Sorting clothes helps them wash more evenly. For example, washing towels together or T-shirts together.
  • Clean out the lint filter. Do it before or after each load. A clean filter means it will take less time to dry clothes.