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How to save money on your laundry

These expert hacks can prolong the life of your clothes and help the planet. By Sam Wylie-Harris.

Green energy efficient washing machine with laundry basket
From airing to spot cleaning, these laundry hacks are kind to your clothes, the environment and your wallet (Alamy/PA)

Something we may be guilty of without even realising… over-washing our clothes.

Which comes as somewhat of a surprise – after all, who doesn’t love the smell of fresh laundry?

So here’s a thing, as a nation we’re ruining more than £440m worth of clothing due to over-washing, new research has suggested.

Moreover, the study by AEG has revealed more than two-thirds of Brits (69%) wash their clothes even when they haven’t worn them.

Indeed, according to the electrical company, not only does it cost more to run a washing machine multiple times a week, but over-washing can also cause issues when it comes to the lifespan of your clothes.

Think colour fading, shrinkage and misshaping when we put items in the machine too frequently. Furthermore, it’s not just our clothes we need to consider.

Overusing our machines comes at a cost to our energy bills, not to mention our environmental footprint.

To help households understand how they can change their habits, scientist Dr Martha Newson has teamed up with AEG to share tips on how to cut down on those wasted washes – saving you time, energy and money…

Air it out

Jeans on clothes line
Think twice before washing your favourite pair of jeans (Alamy/PA)

“If you can tell that an item has been worn, but there’s no strong, overpowering smell, try to refrain from just chucking it in the wash,” suggests Newson.

“We see fantastic results from airing clothes rather than washing, and if you’re short on outside space or the weather isn’t great, a banister or the back of a chair will do.”

Target areas

Got an item that smells under the armpits, but is clean everywhere else?

Homemade eco-friendly stain remover
Homemade eco-friendly stain remover is your secret weapon (Alamy/PA)

“For tough materials, like cotton, denim or nylon, you can clean the inside of the garment’s underarms with a bicarbonate of soda paste, which will absorb the sweat smells,” advises Newson.

“Just give the item a good shake once set, to get rid of any excess.”

Marks and stains

Food, mud, toothpaste marks… no problem, says Newson.

“For sturdy fabrics like cotton, denim and nylon, apply a bit of detergent directly on the mark and gently dab or rub it off.

“For delicate items like silk, cashmere and wool, gently dab marks with a bubbly solution of water and detergent.”

Steam wash

One way to refresh your items between washes is by using steam, suggests Newson. Some washing machines feature a ‘steam refresh’ programme, which she says can save you time, energy and money, as well as using less water per cycle.

“Steam refresh cycles are typically much shorter than a full wash (around 25 minutes), so perfect before a big day out,” notes Newson. “Plus, say goodbye to creases – it’s a win-win.”

Spot clean

“Spot cleaning is set to become your new best friend when you need to target that one pesky area, but don’t want to waste a wash,” says Newson.

Close up of stain on clothes
Spot cleaning saves your clothes from over-washing (Alamy/PA)

Here are her top tips to make spot cleaning most-effective…

“Spot clean on an absorbent surface, like a dish cloth or towel to prevent marks spreading to other areas of the fabric.”

Use a colour-free cloth to dab or rub the fabric, says Newson. “Microfibre cloths can lose colour, which will appear on your clothes, so steer clear of these.”

It’s best to dab, rather than rub, when spot cleaning, warns Newson. “Rubbing could push the dirt through the fabric. For tough stains that need some friction, rubbing will be unavoidable – if that’s the case, it may be time to get a spare [or old] toothbrush out.”

To spot clean wool and silk, she says to make a bubbly detergent and water solution first, then dab it on, only rubbing if essential.

“For stubborn marks such as turmeric or lipstick, unless you catch it immediately, you may consider applying a pre-wash stain remover before spot cleaning.

“Always use gloves if you have sensitive skin and are handling detergents,” she adds.


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