This is fantastic! Just when Mr. Money Mustache is starting to get a bit overloaded with answering email questions and comments from readers, volunteer work at the local school, building a stone wall around one of the gardens, starting a new carpentry project in the neighborhood, and trying to write new articles here and there, a generous fan comes along and submits a guest article for me to display.
Today’s article is from an established author from the excellent WikiHow website, with pen name Dvortygirl. She has initiated over 200 articles on that site on subjects ranging from crafty Home Economics to High Tech. She stumbled across MMM from a feature on LifeHacker.
Do YOU like writing about Mustachian Subjects like Money, Efficiency, Investing, or your Own story of Frugality or Badassity? Do you want to share it with a large audience of interesting interested people? If so, feel free to email me with your idea. It is always fun to share with your friends. So here we go. Thanks again Dvortygirl!
Notes from the Laundry Room
Laundry isn’t very interesting, which means that the person doing it has plenty of time to think. For those of us who like to think about saving money, we can find plenty of opportunities to do so that involve clothes and laundry.
Here are some of my favorite ways to economize.
1. Leave your dryer lonely. Did you know there’s no such thing as an Energy Star Dryer? The Energy Star folks say, “ENERGY STAR does not label clothes dryers because most dryers use similar amounts of energy, which means there is little difference in the energy use between models.” Translation: all dryers use a lot of energy. As long as the air is warm and dry enough to make it practical, air dry your clothes on a line or rack. If it’s too cold or humid, if you want to smooth out some wrinkles (many clothes don’t need it), or if you can’t bear the thought of stiff, scratchy towels, give them 5-10 minutes in your dryer while they’re still a bit damp.
2. Find and use a bar of laundry soap. I don’t advocate a return to laborious hand washing, but for things you were going to hand wash anyway, and for treating stains, a $1 bar of laundry soap is priceless, and it can last a year or more. As an added bonus, take a piece of it with you the next time you travel (it’s solid, so no TSA hassle) and wash the same few changes of clothes repeatedly, rather than paying extra and braving the luggage monsters to check a bag.
3. Use used clothes. Yeah, this gets personal, but check your local thrift stores, garage sales and rummage sales, and if you have kids, encourage hand-me-downs. People get rid of all kinds of clothes for all kinds of reasons, including outgrowing them and just not liking the style anymore. And because they want to get rid of the stuff, it costs next to nothing. Wash them when you get them home. Environmental bonuses: you’re not requiring the creation or fabrication of new resources, and you’re diverting some of the enormous stream of used clothing from flooding local markets in third world countries.
4. Read clothing labels before you buy. No, not the labels that say the designer’s name. Read the care labels. Steer clear of things that need super-special treatment like hand washing or (especially) dry cleaning. Or, if you only paid a dollar at a garage sale anyway, try washing a dry clean item by hand or (cautiously) with your regular clothing. Some will run or shrink, but some will fare just fine in the normal wash.
5. Learn some basic mending, at least how to sew a button and how to mend a tear that’s on a seam. If you are your children are shorter than the general population, it’s worth knowing how to hem pants and shirts, too. Often, a minor repair can extend the usable life of a garment significantly.
6. Don’t follow fashion, at least not too closely. The classics can look like a million bucks even as you build your million bucks in the bank. Basics are often easier to care for, too. If you want to dress it up, try the DIY approach and try hacking your fashions yourself. Threadbanger is a great place to go for advice and inspiration.
7. Use fabric napkins, towels, and cleaning cloths instead of paper. It makes for a little bit of extra laundry, but you’re air drying it, and you’re using less disposable paper. Give each family member a fabric napkin they can identify as their own (use different patterns or embellish them). They can use the napkins for more than one meal. For the cleaning cloths, get a pile of cotton terry cloths from your favorite big-box store or janitorial supply place. You can use them in place of many rolls of paper towels and wash them all at once. They can be folded to expose many different clean sides, and they don’t shred or disintegrate on contact with water. I even stick a damp one on my Swiffer mop for spot mopping, rather than buy expensive refills.
The next time you’re doing laundry, use those extra mental cycles to cogitate on how you might economize on laundry, and please use the comments to let us know what you think up.