It’s said that death and taxes are the only certainties in life, but arguably there’s at least one more: laundry. Everyone needs clean clothing at some point, and there’s usually no getting around tackling at least a few loads of wash per week, even when you only have to do laundry for yourself.
The good news is that according to the American Cleaning Institute, laundry tops the list of favorite chores, with 24% of people naming it their favorite cleaning task. The bad news is that the cost of all that laundry adds up. When you consider the cost of energy, detergent, water, machines, and everything else that goes into washing your clothes, it actually accrues pretty quickly, and should be accounted for in your monthly budget.
Average Laundromat Prices and Cost
Doing your laundry at a laundromat does have a few advantages. You can wash and dry more than one load at a time, and when you need to wash large items like comforters and blankets, they have large capacity machines to get the job done. However, there are some downsides, most notably, the cost.
Several factors go into determining the cost to wash a load of clothing at the laundromat. When determining the average cost per load, you need to consider:
Based on these numbers, the average cost per load is $5.21. Considering that the average household does eight loads of laundry per week, this amounts to about $41.68 per week to use the laundromat.
Keep in mind that these numbers can vary significantly depending on where you live, the size of your household, and the type of machines the laundromat offers. In some urban areas, for instance, a wash can cost upwards of $4.
Laundry Cost Per Month
Based on an average of eight loads of laundry per week, multiplied by four weeks in a month, the average monthly cost to do laundry is $166.72, or $41.68 x 4.
Laundry Cost Per Year
To determine your annual cost of doing laundry at the laundromat, simply multiply the monthly cost by12. In our example, the average monthly cost of $166.72 x 12 = $2,000.64.
How Much Does It Cost to Do Laundry at Home?
Doing laundry at home eliminates costs for transportation and washing and drying individual loads, but it adds energy costs, not to mention the initial expense of purchasing a washer and dryer. If you are renting, you may be lucky and have machines included with your rent, but homeowners typically need to account for these purchases.
To calculate the average cost to do laundry at home, consider the following:
Based on these numbers, a single load of laundry at home costs an average of $1.37, or $10.90 per week for eight loads. However, it does not account for the purchase of a washer and dryer, which can cost about $1300 ($700 for a washer, $600 for a dryer). Given that most machines have at least a 10-year lifespan, though, the weekly cost of owning a washer and dryer works out to about $2.50. Even including that cost, doing laundry at home appears to be the more budget-friendly option.
Opting for energy efficient appliances can also reduce how much you spend on laundry. Choosing Energy Star rated options, for instance, can help you save about $35 per year on electricity and cuts water consumption by about 2,000 gallons in a year. In fact, according to Energy Star, if you are using laundry machines that are more than 10 years old, you are spending an average of $185 per year more than necessary.
Laundry Cost Per Month
Assuming that your weekly laundry cost is $10.90 ($1.37 x 8 loads), multiply that by 4 weeks to determine your monthly cost. On average, families spend $43.60 per month cleaning their clothes at home.
Laundry Cost per Year
To calculate your annual laundry costs for washing and drying at home, simply multiply the monthly cost by 12. In our example $43.60 x 12 =$523.20.
Reducing Laundry Costs
Laundry might be unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to be such a major expense. With some changes to how you approach it, you can cut the cost — sometimes by a significant amount.
- Wash less often: Not all of your clothing needs to be washed every single time you wear it. In fact, sometimes it’s better not to wash so often. As long as they aren’t stained and don’t have strong odors, you can typically wear denim items, pants, sweaters, and sweatshirts multiple times before they need washing.
- Use different cycles: Most newer washing machines and dryers are equipped with different cycle options that allow for shorter cycles and temperature options that use less water and electricity. For instance, a quick wash cycle will probably get lightly soiled loads just as clean as the longer regular cycle. Switching to cold water is also not only better for your clothing, but uses significantly less energy than washing in hot or warm water.
- Line dry: Drying your laundry on a line outdoors not only saves money on electricity and dryer sheets, it also leaves your clothes smelling fresh. Sunlight is also a natural stain remover and disinfectant.
- Explore detergent alternatives: In addition to using less detergent, which helps the bottle last longer, using different detergent can save money. Many laundry detergents are made with water as the primary ingredient, so experiment with different options to determine which works best for your needs. You might be surprised to find that low-cost options work just as well as more expensive name brands. Or, try making your own detergent; homemade laundry detergent can effectively clean your clothing for pennies per load. Wool dryer balls are another cost-effective alternative to replace single-use dryer sheets. They reduce static and wrinkles, and cost a fraction of the price of dryer sheets.
- Invest in more efficient appliances: If you are using a washing machine that’s 10 to 15 years old, there’s a good chance it’s not nearly as energy efficient as newer models. Investing in an upgraded, Energy Star-rated washer and dryer can save you money in the long run.
- Be diligent: Finally, when you’re doing laundry, stay on top of it, and don’t let your wet laundry hang out in the washer for hours (or days) on end. Nothing torpedoes efficiency more than needing to rewash your clothes.
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