The Evils of Laundry

by Kelly · 5 comments

in Living Frugally

I hate doing laundry. Well, that’s not exactly true. I love sitting on my freshly vacuumed floor, folding a pile of clean laundry, warm and fluffy fresh from the dryer, into neat piles which are then put away promptly. Idyllic, huh?

Here’s what happens on any given day instead. I have a pile of dirty laundry in the hamper upstairs, a pile of dirty laundry next to the hamper upstairs, a pile of dirty laundry next to the washing machine downstairs, a pile of dirty laundry in the washing machine waiting to be run, a basket of clean, wet laundry next to the washing machine downstairs waiting to be hung on the drying rack outside, two loads hanging outside drying, and two loads sitting in the baby’s crib, waiting to be folded. A little less than idyllic… and this is when I’m on top of things!

What does this have to do with personal finance and my budget, you might ask? In fact, laundry, or at least my laundry, is quite tightly linked with and relevant to my monetary situation.

8 place mats, 11 napkins and 7 cleaning rags. That’s what I folded and put away this morning. I haven’t bought paper towels, paper napkins, or any sort of disposable cleaning supplies in years. In fact, I rarely buy cleaning products, just one concentrated cleaning solution. I wet a cloth, pour a bit of cleaning solution on it, and wipe whatever needs to be wiped up. And with three kids, there’s a lot of wiping to be done! But not buying paper products saves a ton of money- even though it does add to my laundry load.

You might have noticed that several of the steps in my laundry process involve the hanging of said laundry- I don’t have a dryer. Partly because of space constraints (we had to choose between a dryer or a dishwasher*), partly because of environmental reasons, and partly for economic reasons- those babies are expensive! Hanging my laundry saves the expense of buying and operating a dryer. Not to mention that dryers are rare in France, I think because the electricity is so expensive.

There is a downside however. Hanging the laundry, and then bringing it in again takes a lot of time, time that could be spent on more constructive pursuits, like say, oh, blogging. Time, as we all know, is money. And money is something I’m perpetually short of. That’s not to say that if I weren’t hanging out or bringing in or folding laundry I would be engaged in a moneymaking activity, just that I’ve had to really think about the costs of what I’m doing.

In the end, doing laundry is just another part of my routine, like doing the dishes or vacuuming. If I do it wisely, it can save me money. If I do it promptly, it can be organized. It could even be zen-like, if I did it mindfully (I don’t, and it won’t). But I don’t have to like it.

*If I had to choose between my husband and my dishwasher I would have to think about it for a little bit.


1 Naomi January 25, 2008

Your husband is not a good dishwasher? 😛

2 K January 25, 2008

Not as good as the machine!! The machine actually does them when I tell it to…

3 Blue February 1, 2008

<a href="<br />With your Mt. Washmore (as FlyLady calls it), you sound like you need FlyLady more than I would!

4 Meg from FruWiki July 2, 2009

Hanging laundry actually saves me time — as well as money and wear-and-tear on my clothes. Most of my clothes get hung in the closet anyhow, so I hang them to dry on their hangers and save a few steps. I also hang mine indoors on a bar near the washing machine. It's much less humid inside since we do use the AC daily during most of the year just to keep it in the low 80s.

I don't know how the hangers would work outside. If it's too windy it might be a problem unless you can secure them — maybe twist two laundry lines around each other so you can put the hanger hooks through them. Also, I put most things on friction hangers, so that helps things not get stretched out at the collar because they don't slip down. They were a bit pricey, but I collected them at a discount store over time and they've been worth it — especially since they're also stackable, so I can organize my wardrobe easily and make much better use of the space.
.-= Meg from FruWiki´s last blog ..Special:Log/delete =-.

5 FrugalMaman December 23, 2009

i actually envy your ability to hang clothes outside during the fall and winter months. I particularly enjoy hanging clothes on the line and as I do it mindfully, I do find it zen-like. I live in Southern Ontario, Canada and as soon as the mercury dips down low, clothes will no longer dry outside but instead just freeze. I found it very hard this year to transition back to using the dryer again. It just felt wrong and wasteful. Plus I actually have to be MORE on top the laundry when I use the dryer since if I don’t pull the clothes out when they’re warm, they get all wrinkled and I have to turn on the dryer again. Add to that the conundrum of fabric softener. I use dryer sheets as little as possible and save them for the times when I don’t manage to get to the dryer while the clothes are still damp (not an easy thing to do with a toddler and a preschooler in the house!) and the winter dryness causes a great big static-y lump. I hang some laundry inside the house during the winter (socks, underwear, fleece), but I have yet to create an organized system of lines or bars in the basement to hold everything.

Kudos on using few chemicals and no paper products for cleaning. We’ve worked our way down to 1 spray-bottle off CLR (used sparingly every 6-8 weeks on our bathroom) and the environmentally-friendly dishwasher detergent. Otherwise, we use soapnuts (talk about frugal – these are super cheap and compostable), vinegar, baking soda, borax. Paper towels are used sparingly and I’m working on eliminating them. Our choices were made not only for cost reasons, but moreso for health and environmental reasons.

While I do enjoy the routine of laundry, somehow I despise washing dishes, so I can sympathize with you there!

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