The wear and tear that washing machines put on your clothes can put a dent in your budget. Luckily, there are a few simple laundry tricks that can help you make your clothes and linens last.
It's no secret that tumble drying can damage your garments, so the less time your clothes spend in there the better. Try speeding up the process with a few tennis balls. Placing these in with your load can cut your drying time by as much as 50 percent.
Simply wrap each ball in a sock to prevent any lint from escaping before you throw them in. As the dryer spins, the balls help separate the clothes, which in turn allows more warm air to circulate to the center of the load. The more balls you add, the faster the drying time. And best of all, these can be used over and over again.
If you have old towels that always seem to smell and don't absorb as well as they used to, chances are the cause of this is detergent and fabric softener build-up, which can accumulate in the fibers over time. To get them fresh and fluffy again, all you need is a little vinegar and baking soda.
Simply place the offending towels into the washer and add 1 cup of distilled white vinegar. Then start your cycle on the warmest water setting possible. Once you're done, repeat the process, except this time add 1/2 cup of baking soda. When that's through, just put the items into the dryer, and you're done. The vinegar and baking soda combo is really effective at stripping old residue from the fibers, making your old towels just like new. Bonus: This also works great for brightening and revitalizing dingy white sheets.
So remember, you can keep your laundry clean without deteriorating it in the process. With a little know-how, your clothing and your budget can last a lot longer than you think.
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TV. Downgrade to a cheaper package or eliminate cable/satellite altogether and use services like Hulu and Netflix (NFLX).
Electronics. Put your electronics on a "smart" power strip to lower electricity costs. Turn off electronics and unplug phone chargers when they're not in use.
Lights. Replace your traditional bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs to cut energy costs dramatically.
Furniture. Shop second-hand, go to garage sales and comparison-shop online to get the best prices on some great, unusual pieces.
Heating and cooling. Get a programmable thermostat to help regulate your home's temperature based on when you're there and when you're away.
Appliances. Energy Star appliances may cost more to buy, but they're well worth it when it comes to the long-term savings.
Water. Don't waste money on bottled water. Filter your own tap water with a faucet-mounted or pitcher-style filter and take it with you in a reusable water bottle.
Dishes. Only run the dishwasher when it's full, and let the dishes air-dry.
Cleaning. Use reusable sponges and dish cloths rather than paper towels. Make your own cleaning solutions from inexpensive household ingredients like ammonia, vinegar and baking soda.
Shower. Use a low-flow shower head and limit your shower time. (Sorry, long, hot showers are a no-no.)
Sink. Turn off the water when you're brushing teeth or shaving.
Toilet. Invest in a dual-flush toilet, which has separate buttons allowing you to flush with a small amount of water or a large amount, depending on the job at hand.
Lights. Put lights on a dimmer to use less energy late at night and early in the morning, when bright light is not necessary.
Heating. Bundle up in cold months with multiple covers and quilts, and turn the heat down when you're sleeping.
Closet. Clean out your closet and sell any unwanted or rarely used clothes and accessories.
Use it more. Instead of eating out, cook more dinners at home, and have friends over for a potlucks instead of going out to pricey restaurants.
Phone. Get rid of your landline if you rarely use it. There's no point in having one if you're on your cell all the time anyway.
Internet. Get internet service from your phone or TV provider and bundle your services for savings.
Work out. Create a home gym and cancel your pricey gym membership.
Store food in bulk. Get a standalone freezer and create a pantry area with shelving units to store products purchased in bulk or on sale.
Laundry. Use cold water, only run full loads, air-dry items, and regularly clean lint traps to keep your machines running efficiently.
Hot water tank. Insulate your hot water tank and set it at a lower temperature.
Furnace. Change the furnace filter regularly and have your air ducts professionally cleaned every three to five years.
Extra space. Rent out unused space, whether it's a storage space, a bedroom to a student, or creating an entire apartment.
Insulation. Keep heat from escaping and lower your energy bills by insulating your attic.
Odds and ends. Storing a ton of stuff up there? Hold a garage sale and sell what you're not using.