An old saying declares that nothing in life is certain except death and taxes. However, we could probably add laundry, dirty dishes and grimy floors to that list.
On the face of it, you might not think too much about the price of your cleaning habits. But the cost may be enough to nickel-and-dime your budget.
Check out this chart put together by a New Jersey mom who wanted to see how much she was paying to run her household lights and appliances. According to her calculations, vacuuming the house may cost a mere 28 cents a month in electricity, but an electric dryer could rack up $16.98 in monthly costs.
Here are three ways to substantially trim the financial burden of household chores.
1. Do the Dishes for Less
Washing dishes costs you in multiple ways. Unless you’re served by a private well, you likely have to pay for the water you use. You might have natural gas costs associated with heating that water. Finally, you need to buy electricity to run the dishwasher.
All told, it’s a bit hard to quantify exactly how much you spend to do the dishes each night, especially since utility rates and dishwasher efficiency can vary greatly.
But regardless, you can cut your costs dramatically by using these tactics:
- Be selective about pre-rinsing. Rinsing off food that might quickly dry and get caked on makes sense. Pre-washing all dishes when you have a newer-model dishwasher is simply a waste of water, about 10 gallons of water per washing, according to a study by the Florida Solar Energy Center at the University of Central Florida.
- Avoid the special settings. The Florida study also found that using the “sanitize,” “pots and pans” or “heavy-duty” settings can increase your energy costs by up to 40%. This is where smart pre-rinsing comes into play. By pre-rinsing cooking pots and baking pans, you may be able to avoid using these energy-sucking settings.
- Let dishes air dry. Turn off the heated dry option for additional savings.
The Florida Solar Energy Center says today’s dishwashers beat even the best hand washer when it comes to efficient water usage. However, you might be able to cut costs by pre-rinsing pans and using only the minimum amount of soap needed.
2. Hang Laundry in the Sun
The dryer eats up the majority of the money needed to clean clothes. So, skip it.
Set up a line in the backyard and hang clothes out to dry in the sun. If you’re worried about the neighbors seeing your unmentionables, invest in an umbrella dryer, which allows you to hang delicates on the inside and surround them with less scandalous articles of clothing, like jeans and T-shirts. (If you have an HOA, it may be smart to check to be sure clotheslines are permissible.)
If it isn’t, or in inclement weather, you can still save with an indoor drying rack.
Using cold water also helps you save. Some people swear it doesn’t get clothes as clean, but I’ve never noticed a difference. If anything, cold water is gentler on clothes and will help them last longer.
Wait until you have a full load to run the washing machine. Be careful about how much detergent you use. Flip the cap over and look for those faint lines near the bottom. That’s about all you need.
For powdered detergents, measure according to the instructions rather than filling the scoop.
3. Cut the Cost of Cleaning Supplies
If paper towels are your go-to picker-upper, it may be time to invest in some hand towels and washcloths.
Rather than disposable cleaning products, go with reusable ones. Try rags for dusting and an old-fashioned mop rather than a refillable Swiffer model. When it is time to buy a new vacuum, go for a bagless one to keep your long-term costs down.
Above all, consider trading your store-bought cleaning formulas for homemade ones featuring baking soda, borax or vinegar. If you don’t think the homemade versions work as well, check out our previous article with the results from our Earth Day smackdown pitting store-bought cleaners vs. homemade concoctions.
Once you’ve decided to try your hand at DIY cleaning products, you can find recipes all over the Internet.
This post originally appeared on Money Talks News.
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