Perhaps, like me, you spend far too much of your life doing laundry. Far too much. I have asked everyone I know if they have any tips or tricks to cut down the number of loads or number of hours involved in laundry and the consensus seems to be, you just have to put on the big girl (or boy) panties and do the damn wash or soon all your big girl panties will be dirty. Gross.
But my mother (ah, my mother, a Domestic Goddess of the highest order, I tell you) did let me in on a teeny time and mess saving trick. It’s not a miracle or anything – I don’t want to get your hopes up – but it does shave a second or two off each load. If I’m doing the math right on the number of loads of laundry I do, a few seconds per load adds up to something like 12 weeks per year in saved time. You know, roughly.
Here’s the trick. Get your enormous tub of bulk enviro-friendly laundry detergent (because if you do few enough loads to not buy your laundry soap in bulk than this post probably isn’t for you anyway).
Now get a squeeze bottle. Like those plastic ketchup and mustard bottles from diners, but not red and yellow. You can find them at any restaurant supply store, or here. Fill the squeeze bottle with the bulk soap, as so:
Recap and voilà! Easy to use, fast, dripless way to get your laundry soap in your machine.
Perhaps you are thinking: but those giant bulk laundry containers come with a convenient measuring cup, why would I need this?
Well, in my experience, those cups are evil. They get tremendously coated with slowly dehydrating soap. They do not “conveniently store over the dispenser” as promised – instead they fall off, usually bouncing their sticky soap residue all over a pile of clean clothes you haven’t quite gotten around to putting away. Finally, every time you fill one a little extra soap from the container’s dispenser drips on your counter. Leave that soap drip on your counter long enough it’ll take the color right out of Formica. And that, friends, is why my counter has that custom Jackson Pollock look to it.
No, trust me, the squeeze bottle is far better.
It’s not a solution, but it’s a start.
Anyone have any other good laundry simplification tips? I’ll take any help I can get.3
If you are saving up your laundry to do over the weekend, don’t. I do a load a night as needed. I wash, dry and put away. It really takes no time at all and my weekends are free to play in the garden.
I wash most of my items on the quick wash setting, which is 29 minutes versus 47 on my machine. That way I can get a load washed and in the dryer while I’m making dinner or doing my usual chores. Unless my clothes are d-i-r-t-y it does the trick. Cold/cold for clothes, warm/cold for towels. Really filthy items and things like cleaning rags get the hot/warm setting and a longer cycle.
I try to do laundry every day that I can make a full load. Once in a while I don’t have enough, and some days I could do 2-3 loads. That doesn’t mean I actually do 2-3, but sometimes there’s enough that I could. The one load is all I require myself to do. I put it in the washer in the morning, put it on the drying racks when it’s done washing. Next morning, I take it off the racks to bring upstairs and put it away, then repeat the whole process. In the summer I use outdoor clotheslines, so I do a load from washer to closet in one day instead of leaving it overnight to dry. Unless I’m sick or away from home too many days in a row, a load a day keeps us fairly well caught up. My husband helps with laundry, so that saves me time as well.
I use just one setting on the washer, always on cold (we don’t even have hot water hooked up to the thing), and just one setting on the dryer, if I use it at all. I stick stuff in and turn the knob, and don’t have to think about cycles or temperatures.
Also, we try to wear most clothing items at least twice before washing them (not counting underwear and socks or my husbands grimy construction-worker clothes).
Dogs or Dollars says
We make our own laundry soap, which yes is super oober cheap crazy, but it also stored in a convenient 5 gallon bucket, with lid right next to the washing machine. We use an old 1 cup scoop, which sits on top of the soap. Its 1.5 seconds to scoop and dispense to washing machine. Originally we started making soap to save money, but I freaking love it! We make a ton, so almost never run out, it easy to dispense, works really well, doesnt irritate sensitive husband skin, essentially no waste involved. Its the best 30 minutes spent every 8 to 10 weeks!
Tammie Haley says
I agree with you! We do almost the same thing.
Please do share a lil more about your oober cheap laundry soap, we have sensitive skin over here too.
Can you share your homemade detergent recipe? :oD
Dogs or Dollars says
Eeek! Sorry forgot to check back! More about our soap making:
It varies greatly based on the bar soap you use. My favorite is to use a Laundry Bar Soap, like Fels Naptha. Although they can be harder to find.
Laura G. says
our washer is not the fancy pants kind with a soap tray/dispenser deal so I just pour in the liquid while it fills with water. I, of course, have a shelf above the washer/dryer and I position the big ol container of laundry soap just so, so that I open up the washer, turn on the water and I can dispense the soap right out of the bulk container and into the washer. if any drips, it does it while the washer is still filling so it all goes in. as for reducing the amount of washing I actually have to do, I enforce the “if it doesn’t look or smell dirty, put it back in the closet/dresser to wear again” rule.
queen of string says
Laura, you are a laundry goddes and today I will erecting a shelf over my top loading washer, just for my soap dispenser. ( Which happens to be an old bulk dispenser like the one shown, filled with homemade laundry soap.) 🙂
For a second I thought it was silly. Then I wrote” get squeeze bottle “on my shopping list. It would save a couple of seconds, but more importantly it will save soap. Those cups get all gunky and then you have to wash off the gunk, which is the very soap you paid for!
Just Nick says
Absolutely agree with the save soap point! In fact, I us about 10-20% of the amount of soap that I’m “supposed” to, even with a high efficiency machine. Soap residue really bothers me and I find the clothes end up just as clean…cleaner, even, if you think of the icky itchy sticky soapy grunge that is often left behind.
I use the sgueeze bottle as a stain stick too. one less thing to keep stocked.
Don’t wash the cups separately – put them in the washing machine next time you do a load.
That’s what I have always done. I like the idea of the squeeze bottle to fight the “drips all over the countertop” thing from the bulk container, but now I’ll try to use the squeeze bottle to fill the cup and toss the cup in the washer. Best of both worlds?
Tammie Haley says
A group of us make our own laundry soap together in a big batch. I keep mine in old glass jugs. We think it is much cheaper than buying laundry soap and we have fun making it.
Two words for you… soap nuts.
have been thinking about soap nuts for a while and they are finally available here in australia. do you think they wash well? I have been really struggling with just chilling over the washing. Being on a fully fledged farm- we have poo of all descriptions to deal with every day- on boots in cars and inevitably on clothes and in the house…..(I know! how did I get here?) I do a LOT of cleaning, and have learned to be a little more laid back about untidy/dusty vs dirty vs actual life threatening germs, but when I changed our sewerage system across to a true environmental champion system- incredibly cool worm composting system with the water being ‘areated’ clean and pumped into garden beds, before passing through sand beds for final dispersal across the yard; and for the first time have achieved actual green grass we can sit on (if we ever get the time) I did not really fully comprehend what that would mean in terms of cleaning products. We barely use any solvents any way, but sometimes I just have to get in with the big guns to give that bathroom a once over, or soak clothes that will need ceremonial burning if I cant get that smell out of them……You can’t hold down a job in town or expect the kids to go to school looking like they have slept by the side of the road EVERY day……..
Read about soap nuts- look great- but do they actually CLEAN?
Can anyone share thier recipe for washing soap that works? the best I have tried is simply grated and soaked sunlight soap ( a pure old soap not sure if you have it there- but its getting very hard to find here anymore.)
Kitchen is not a problem, but I am actually thinking about replumbing the bathroom and laundry to a separate grey water system so I can attack the cleaning more ferociously when I have to and have the water bypass the hardworking earthworms and be treated in a different way before contributing in a separate non food part of the gardens or as flushing for the toilets maybe.
Brianna @ RMV says
I just throw the cup that comes with the detergent in the wash each time after I pour the soap in the dispenser. Then it comes out clean and never gunky and if you happen to forget and dry it I’ve never had any issues.
Also I never, ever use above the #1 line so a small bottle of detergent lasts as long as the bulk bottles. When I mean never I even mean when washing cloth diapers. I had a washing machine repair guy give me that tip and it is amazing how your clothes still come clean and how it saves the inside of the washing machine in the long run.
In fact when I buy my sons clothes on consignment and bring them home to wash it always blows my mind how much soap is already in the clothes.
My daughter actually thought of this, amazing. Still can’t believe I didn’t think of it in all the years of raising kids. So simple and never a gunky cap again. 🙂
Make the kids do their own laundry after age 7 or so. The first thing that’ll happen is they’ll start throwing less stuff in the hamper! Also change into play clothes immediately upon getting home – for adults, too. Then wash that stuff only once a season or so…
Ok, your cleanliness norms might differ from mine… 🙂
Kristy Lynn @ Gastronomical Sovereignty says
make your significant other do all the laundry! it’s worked for me – i’ve cut my laundry doing time down to about zero!
brenda from ar says
Think laundry when purchasing fiber. Those big luxurious thirsty towels are pretty, but a smaller thin towel will still get the job done – ask a backpacker. I also hang my used towel over the shower rod to dry and re-use it. I’ve cut up some old towels and made little mitt-like wash cloths – less volume, don’t roll, and easier to keep hold of. In cool weather jeans can be worn several times between washing. In cool weather, wear a t-shirt under a big bulky warm top, wash the t-shirt, and hang up the big top. In summer, go with shorts made of quick dry fabric – less wash volume and of course, dries fast.
brenda from ar
Great comments! And Maiden Farmer, you sound like you are leaps and bounds beyond most of us with your water system!
Getting a handle on our laundry around here has as much to do with saving energy (electricity to run the appliances, to get the well water to our machine, to heat water, etc etc) as saving time. The solution: do fewer loads less often. This may mean adjusting your cleanliness expectations, but really, as one friend said a couple of years back, “I use my towel AFTER I get out of the shower, CLEAN! How dirty can the towel be?!”
So I change out of my work clothes when I get home; the shirts, socks and panties go in the bin, but I have enough of those to go two weeks, and, of course, they don’t take up much space. Pants, sweaters, etc get dirty much more slowly in my office job, so they rarely need to bulk up the loads. Play clothes–gardening clothes get worn to be dirty in, and they are just going to get dirty again tomorrow, so those get worn for those few hours a day for a week some times!
Towels get washed either either once a week, or rotated once a week and washed in a big load every 2 weeks (one tip; make sure they totally dry out each day–ours go by the woodstove after we use them) . Sheets get washed every few weeks (again, we’re usually CLEAN in bed–evening quick showers are an option, so unless there’s a reason…); duvet covers need even less. The basic theory boils down to having lots of the small things that get dirty often–underwear, dishcloths, socks, wash cloths, hand towels–and keep the big bulky things cleaner so they need to be washed less often.
I mean, how dirty ARE we, people, when we shower every day? In the old days people didn’t do nearly as much laundry AND they only bathed a few times a week at most. When water is precious, it’s amazing how our standards change! 🙂 (Ok, that ended up being a bit of a rant. Who knew I was so passionate about laundry?! LOL)
Yes, it takes a lot of effort and planning to live INTENTIONALLY. the change to a new sewer was a fluke though- could never have afforded it if we hadn’t been wiped out by a series of flash floods last year 🙁 so luckily I had been researching the biocomposting system for years (as you do) and so I knew exacty what I wanted. In Australia all rural properties and most suburban plots too have a requirement to have a rain water storage tank as part of the house system so in town you have the option of using roof water or the municipal supply- but here, on my country, we harvest all our water so when that runs out- it’s gone. you learn to be very frugal with the number of loads of washing, how often you wash up ( I do so hate standing at the sink washing up….) and how long your shower is. And yes we use exactly your philosophy with the clothes- worn once to the office- recycle it again later in the week with a different (still unironed :P) blouse.
We also generate all our own electricity so I have to balance how much I want to get that load of laundry done right now- with will we feel like watching a DVD tonight- or am I heating aby chicks overnight in the brooder-or do I need to use the satellite and computer later on in the early hours (I vote for that one). And also why I never choose the iron. Solar power is a gift freely given, but like any resource, you have to deciede how you are going to use it. Now that we have had a few years of living here- I think I really appreciate just how important all the resources and appliances we use every day- and have learned to balance need with simple want…And even though I am not the crispest looking worker in my office-I have a capacity to cope that few others in my ‘city life’ can really comprehend, but often comment on. Keep up all the small things that add up- the planet needs us all!
A few times a week for bathing only? That’s being generous. The concept of taking a full scale bath is a very, very late 19th century invention. Before that, people just sponge bathed (sometimes with soap, usually, well…not.). Women washed their hair occasionally at best, and clothing was usually washed once a week if the housewife was rather particular. Things like mattresses, sheeting, etc were just thrown out after a year or so – they were just not worth washing to many pioneers and our other ancestors.
Useless bit of trivia for everyone – the reason June is such a popular month to get married is due to habits set during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. You could very easily bathe a bride or a groom in June without worrying about them getting hypothermia from cold water – people often bathed around Easter, and maybe in June, if everyone else was lucky. Soo…that being said, I think we’re all doing just fine. 😉
I have a very small laundry room, with a simple wire shelf over the washer. I put my humongo bulk washing soap on a towel on the wire shelf. I still use the cup to put soap in the machine, but I slide the soap dispenser forward, so the nozzle is off the shelf, fill the cup, scoop any drips off the dispenser nozzle with the edge of the cup, put it in the machine, slide the dispenser back so any further drips will be caught on the towel, and put the cup upright next to the dispenser, also on the towel. If the towel gets gunky from soap residue, I just toss it in the wash and put another towel under it. I haven’t had to wash that towel for over a month, so it saves me a lot of time and headache. Hope this helps! 🙂
I throw the “empty” detergent cup in the wash after I empty what willingly come out into the detergent dispenser of my front loader. Clean cup every time and always easy to locate after switching the wet clothes to the dryer for the next load.
Erin B says
I use one of those hand soap pumps. Two squirts of the concentrated stuff is all it takes in my washer.
I wash and dry our socks in mesh bags. Advanced: buy all matching socks. Then you never need to match them, just dump them in the drawer and pull out any two. You can also just toss socks that aren’t easily mendable without losing the whole pair.
I also do a wash a day – put it in at night and switch first thing in the morning, then ideally get everyone to wear something that just came out of the dryer, leaving just a few things to put away.
Hey Toni, thanks for mentioning the function of showers! My parents were farm kids who survived The Depression and The War . They had 10 kids so you can imagine the laundry! One of their daily battle cries was” a wet towel does NOT a dirty towel make!”. Just a few years ago I had to school my teenage niece and nephew regarding their atrocious manners and hygiene: I’m talking Klingon level here. Of course, these people grew up with a disengaged Mom, no Home Ec class, optional gym class ( and therefor no gym teacher) and teachers and lunch ladies who are barred from correcting them lest their ” self-esteem” be affected. One of the first things I noticed was how bad a towel smelled after only 1 or 2 uses. I actually had to instruct them on how to shower ! And wash their hair…clearly, “lather, rinse, repeat ” is woefully inadequate counsel…
Im working on a book who’s working title is Raised In A Barn: Yeah, You
There are lots of recipes for homemade laundry detergent–just Google it and find one that uses ingredients that you can easily obtain. I have found that it is really not too fussy. The key ingredients are washing soda and soap. I use leftover slivers and sometimes supplement with fells naptha or Dr. Bronners liquid. A quarter cup is plenty. I just keep filling up the same detergent bottle that my last ever commercial detergent came in and eyeball it so there is no goopy cap to deal with. After a while, things can get a bit gray. Hanging things out to dry in the sun takes care of this in the warm months, but in the winter when it all goes on racks inside, I fill the fabric softener dispenser with white vinegar. It does the trick, and any smell is gone once the clothes are dry.
One caveat–this is not good detergent for a gray water system as the washing soda is loaded with sodium which will eventually build up in soil and kill everything.