How to Save Money at the Laundromat

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Washing clothes at a laundromat is occasionally necessary. Maybe you currently rent an apartment that doesn’t have space for a washer and dryer. Or perhaps your machine is currently not working and you are waiting for it to be repaired or you plan on buying a new one soon.

Whatever the case, you have laundry to do and you are wondering how to save money at the laundromat.

Laundromats can be expensive. The price varies depending on where you live, but it can be anywhere from $2.50 – $10.00 per load. And that’s just to wash your clothes. You still have to dry them.

That’s a lot of money!

Thankfully, there are some things you can do to save money at the laundromat. If you plan ahead, you won’t have to take out a bank loan just to clean your clothes.

Let’s take a look at several strategies you can use to lower your costs at the laundromat.

1. Wait Until You Have a Full Load

Washing a partial load of laundry costs just as much as washing a full load. If you only have a few items to wash, you may be able to save money at the laundromat by waiting until you have enough clothes to make a full load.

You may also run into a situation where you do a couple of loads at a laundromat and have a few clothes left over. Instead of doing a third load for those few items, consider taking them home and waiting until you have enough dirty clothes to make a full load.

Prioritizing your laundry is another strategy you can use to make sure you have enough for a full load at the laundromat. For example, let’s say you think you may need to wash three loads at the laundromat but you aren’t sure if you have enough for the third load. You could sort your laundry and wash the most important items in the first two loads and then hold off on the third load if you don’t have enough items to make a full load.

2. Use Less Detergent

Another strategy you may be able to use to save money at the laundromat is to use a little less detergent per load than what you normally use. Laundry detergent is highly concentrated. You may be able to get a few more loads per bottle or box of detergent by using a little less per load than what is recommended.

Another way you may be able to save on detergent is to measure your detergent before pouring it in. Many people just eyeball or guesstimate the amount of detergent they use when washing clothes. If you do this, you may end up using more detergent than necessary without realizing it.

3. Bring Your Own Detergent and Fabric Softener

If you are planning a trip to the laundromat, a simple strategy to save money is to bring your own detergent and fabric softener. Most laundromats sell small boxes of detergent and fabric softener, but they are usually much more expensive than what you can buy at the store.

Convenience comes at a high price.

The products sold at most laundromats are single-use. The per load cost of buying a large container of detergent, for example, is usually significantly lower than the single-use products sold at laundromats.

4. Switch to a Cheaper Detergent and Fabric Softener

Do you always buy name brand detergents and fabric softeners? If so, you may be able to save some money by buying generic or store brands instead. Name brands are often much more expensive than generics, which usually do the same job as the more expensive brands but for less money.

Another way to save money on detergent and fabric softener is to shop at a discount grocery store instead of one of the big chain stores. The products these stores carry are usually more affordable because they have less overhead to pay for like product displays, fancy buildings, and other things.

5. Don’t Use Fabric Softener or Dryer Sheets

If you are wondering how to save money at the laundromat, another strategy to consider is to simply skip using fabric softener or dryer sheets. Just use detergent.

Whether you need fabric softener or dryer sheets is debatable. Many people don’t use them to save money and their clothes turn out fine.

In all of the years that I have been doing laundry, I have never once used fabric softener. My clothes are very clean and the fabric doesn’t feel like it needs to be “softened” in any way.

6. Wear Clothes More than Once Before Washing

There are some times when you may be able to wear your clothes more than once before they need to be washed, like when you only wear something for a short period of time. If it’s a little cool outside, for example, and you throw on a sweatshirt to go to the store for an hour or so, that sweatshirt may still be clean enough to wear again without having to be washed.

Many people routinely wear certain clothing items twice before they wash them. Unless you have a job where you get dirty, for example, you may be able to wear your jeans twice before washing them. Jeans take up a lot of space in washers, and you may have to do more loads of laundry if you wear a clean pair of jeans every day.

7. Compare Laundromat Prices

When you need to wash a few loads of laundry at the laundromat, do you go to the one that’s closest to you, or have you taken the time to check out the prices of other laundromats in your area? If you haven’t done a little comparison shopping with laundromats, you may be paying more than necessary.

Not all laundromats cost the same. Just as different dry cleaners charge different prices for their services, different laundromats in your community may also have different prices. Prices may be listed on a laundromat’s website if they have one. If they don’t, you may have to visit them to find out how much they charge and to see if their facilities look good.

8. Consider Line Drying

Another strategy on how to save money at the laundromat is to skip using the dryer. Instead, you could take your clothes home with you and hang dry them. Before clothes dryers came along, this is the method that everyone used to dry their clothes.

It still works.

Many people put clotheslines in their backyards to dry their clothes. If this is not an option, you can also purchase a clothes drying rack from a store. You may be able to earn your money back on the purchase in the savings from skipping the dryers at the laundromats.

9. Hand Wash Small Loads at Home

Another way you may be able to save money on your laundry is to skip the laundromat for small loads and wash them by hand at home. Hand washing used to be the only way to wash clothes before the invention of the washing machine.

Just like line drying your clothes, it still works.

If you have a small load, you may be able to wash it by hand in a bucket. Another option is to wash small items at home like socks, bras, underwear, and t-shirts, and save larger items for the machines.

10. Take Advantage of Customer Loyalty Programs

Some laundromats offer customer loyalty programs where you can earn rewards points that can be redeemed for free washer and dryer use. Not all laundromats do this, of course, but if yours does, definitely take advantage of it for extra savings.

In addition to offering free use of washers and dryers, some laundromat customer loyalty programs may offer other rewards. Rewards programs will vary from one laundromat to another.

11. Stop the Dryer Early

Another strategy on how to save money at the laundromat to consider is to carefully monitor how long you use the dryer. Many laundromat dryers run for a certain amount of time per quarter.

You may be able to dry your clothes a certain amount at the laundromat and then take them home to hang dry them the rest of the way. The idea is to dry them enough so that they won’t be sopping wet when you take them home with you.

12. Don’t Wash Clean Clothes

It may sound like a no-brainer, but many kids are bad to throw clean clothes in the dirty clothes hamper. Maybe they try something on and decide not to wear it that day. Instead of hanging it back up, they just toss it into the clothes hamper.

Some kids (and some adults) don’t even toss their clothes in a dirty clothes hamper. They may toss both clean and dirty clothes in a pile on the floor somewhere. Which clothes are clean and which are dirty?

When this happens, you may not have any choice but to wash all of the clothes found on the floor to make sure the clothes that are truly dirty get washed.

Making sure everyone in your household puts clean clothes where they belong and only puts dirty clothes in the hamper may help to reduce the amount of laundry you have to do.

How to Save Money at the Laundromat – Final Thoughts

Doing laundry at the laundromat is sometimes necessary – it may not be something that can be avoided. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money while you are there. There are some very simple strategies you can use to lower your clothes washing and drying costs.

Individually, each of these tips can save you some money, but you may be able to combine tips to realize even greater savings. The more strategies you use, the less money you’ll have to spend.

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Cyrus Vanover

Cyrus Vanover, MBA, is a financial copywriter who has written for companies of all sizes. He is also the author of the personal finance book, "Earn A Debt-Free College Degree." His goal is to help families save money, make more money, and achieve financial independence. Based in the mountains of Virginia, he enjoys hiking the local trails, listening to 80s music, and reading books on military history in his spare time. Read more.

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