How much does it cost to do one load of laundry? I calculated the cost of doing laundry before we got into cloth diapers, and one load of laundry came to just under $1. I found it empowering to know how much money each wash and dry cycle was taking out of our wallets, so I wanted to share my process. Or, go straight to our quick tips to save money on laundry.
Here’s how to calculate the cost to do laundry.
Step 1. Estimate how many loads of laundry you do each week.
Step 2. Look up your last purchase of laundry detergent. Divide the cost by the number of loads you get out of each container. (If you use half the recommended soap, double the number of loads you get.)
Step 3. Calculate your electricity and water costs, plugging in your answers in Step 1 and Step 2, using Mr. Electricity’s awesome laundry calculator. You may need to pull out a recent utility bill to see how much your utility charges your for gas or electricity.
One thing I love about Mr. Electricity’s laundry cost calculator is that you can change one factor – for example, the percentage of loads you run on HOT – and see how it effects your per load cost. His calculator takes into account every laundry-related cost I can think of!
My cost to do laundry is $.89 per load.
I was surprised that the dry cycle ($.51) costs more than the wash cycle ($.38)! Especially because about half our loads we wash with hot water (the cloth diaper loads). If we switched to all cold water washes, and used a clothesline to dry our clothes, the total cost of doing a load of laundry would drop to $.23 per load!!! Wow, what a savings.
Making these two changes would reduce our annual bill from $277 to $73 – a net savings of $204. YOWZA!
Of course, in the winter we would move the clothesline drying operation inside, and we would probably use the dryer for some heavy items, like jeans, that take a long time to hang dry. So the total yearly savings would be slightly less. But saving $204 a year is motivating – that’s almost an extra month’s contribution to our daughter’s 529 college savings plan.
Julie Hills says
Thanks for the link! I’ve been wondering about this… we were in an apartment with coin-op laundry and I wondered how much more we were paying. We paid $0.75 to wash and $1.00 to dry (45 mins, any setting). I would usually do two loads of wash and one load of drying and hang everything out to finish drying, so $2.50 per laundry day, about 6-7 times per month. I wanted to know if cloth diapering was saving me money over disposables (not accounting for the environmental costs of either option). Now that we’re buying a home and won’t have to put quarters in, the cost will be more “invisible” but now I’ll be able to find out how much we spend on laundry!
Bargain Babe says
@Julie Hills I guarantee you over the life of your washer and dryer, you will be saving money over using coin laundry, though sounds like you were able to minimize your costs by sun-drying some clothes and combining dryer loads. Seeing that the dry cycle is more than 50% of our laundry costs makes me motivated to get a clothes line set up somewhere. We already have a rack for polyester sport items, delicates, and other clothes that don’t need to be dried, but it would be great to be able to put EVERYTHING out in the sun to dry. I know sun drying makes clothes crispy, but I can always toss into the dryer with a clean pair of shoes and set it to low heat for 5 minutes to get that softness back.
Let me know how much a load of laundry costs when you get moved in!