Don't get hung out to dry

16:00, Mar 01 2014
Laundry on the line
ON THE LINE: You might be surprised how much you can save by drying your washing on a clothes line.

New Zealand's blazing sun is responsible for a fair number of peeling noses, melanomas and melted icecreams.

But it's not all bad. For one thing, it takes only a few minutes to dry out big loads of washing.

Today we're doing our best Aunt Daisy impression and tackling another classic household expense - the laundry.

Chances are, you're spending 10 times more than you should be on your laundry bill.

And no, saving all that money doesn't involve going down to the local creek to hand-wash the household's socks and undies.

The best investment you can make is a bit of string and a few pegs. Line-drying might require a few minutes of effort, but it's worth it.


Consumer New Zealand estimates that each time you set the dryer off, you're chewing up $1 of electricity.

Given that families tend to do roughly 300 loads of washing a year, that's $300 saved straight off the bat.

It's true that summer's coming to an end, but our household of seven gets by just fine without a dryer all year round.

Even in the gloomiest depths of winter, when it's bucketing down outside, you can get clothes dry inside.

It has to be somewhere where moisture won't be a problem - if you don't have a garage, try putting a clothes rack in the bathtub.

The next most important factor is the temperature of your wash.

A warm wash is roughly 10 times more expensive than cold - about 30-40 cents, compared to a measly 3-4c.

Using warm water is not only expensive, it's also completely unnecessary for all but the greasiest stains.

So mechanics' overalls are fair game, but your slightly sweaty gym clobber doesn't justify turning up the heat.

Our 300-wash family saves another $90 a year by sticking to cold water.

The third area of savings is the laundry powder itself. You can get away with using less for lightly soiled clothes - it's the motion of the machine which actually removes the stains.

But the big savings come from buying in bulk. The little 500g packs tend to cost about $8 a kilogram, most of which buys you a nice smell and some colourful packaging.

Compare that to a big 10kg sack for $15, or 4kg of more concentrated stuff for $17.

At maybe 18c a scoop, it's roughly half the price of regular stuff.

Over the course of a year, buying in bulk cuts your powder purchases from $105 to $55, saving another $50.

All up, your total expense for the year is about $65 - and that's not the end of it. A bonus tip for the laundry lords and ladies: expensive fabric softener ($3-$10 per litre) can be replaced with a dash of our old friend, white vinegar ($1.70 per litre).

And the most over-looked saving is to create less dirty laundry in the first place.

The old back-to-front/inside-out trick for undies or doubling down on smelly socks is just plain nasty. But tossing your jeans in the wash after wearing them to the shops is wasteful, as is single use towels - you're never more clean than when you step out of the shower.

With all these tips, even the biggest, dirtiest family should be able to keep the cost of cleanliness well under $100 a year.

If you pay anything more, it's you that's being hung out to dry.

Sunday News