One Laundry Essential I Happily Splurge On, and One Place Where I Save

published Mar 2, 2020
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Hi, my name is Ashley, and I’m a boutique laundry detergent junkie. I don’t go to brunch, I don’t drink White Claw, but I do buy bougie laundry detergent and I’m not ashamed to say so. To be clear: I don’t have anything against brunching—downing a pitcher of mimosas while eating artisan avocado toast is a wonderful way to kill $30 or $40 bucks, but you gotta make choices, and I choose fancy laundry detergent. 

Maybe this says more about me than I should admit, but at the age of 35, laundry has become a very big deal. I’ve written about doing laundry for years and tried just about every laundry care brand (and DIY solution) I could find. But about a year ago I came across my One True Detergent (The Laundress’s Signature Detergent, at $20 for a 32-ounce bottle) and from that point on, I was smitten.

To responsibly control this slightly extravagant habit, I’ve come up with a sort of “best practices” for laundry in our household: My husband, daughter, and I each have our own specific detergent, and I’ve learned how to sustainably cut corners in the laundry room. 

I Splurge on Fancy Laundry Detergent for Myself

My husband is a barber and comes home with lots of tiny hairs all over his clothing, so his laundry has always been done separately from ours. His work clothes are washed in the big glugger of whatever detergent was most affordable at Costco that day. We use “free and clear” detergents for our daughter’s clothing and any pet item that needs washing, and I use my splurgey holy grail detergent on my clothing. Since we don’t have a high-efficiency washing machine, each load requires approximately four capfuls of detergent, which means it costs me about $1.25 to do a load of my clothing compared to 11-ish cents per load for my husband’s laundry and 20 cents for my daughter’s. 

Do I feel guilty about this? No, but I do feel a greater responsibility to treat my laundry better. Since I am treating my clothing to such a nice detergent, I find that I take much better care of it than I did before. When my clothes come off at the end of the day, they aren’t immediately tossed into the laundry basket—instead, I take the time to figure out if they need to be washed or if they can be hung up and worn again. 

Since we all have our own detergents, I find that each one lasts for quite a long time. I can go months without having to replace our stockpile, which is a benefit in and of itself.

I Save by Using Dryer Balls Instead of Disposable Dryer Sheets

Once I started buying The Laundress detergent, I found that scented dryer sheets covered up that wonderful lily of the valley, jasmine, sandalwood scent that I was paying so much money for, so I quickly switched to wool dryer balls. The dryer balls offered the same features I was enjoying from my dryer sheets—fluffy laundry and reduced static cling—just without the added smell.

I quickly realized I was also saving a lot of money by not buying dryer sheets. Some quick math: Most dryer balls last up to 1,000 loads and cost around $10 per pack. Dryer sheets cost about 5 cents each and I would use two per load, so it was costing me about $100 to do 1,000 loads of laundry using dryer sheets. I’ve found dryer balls to be extremely effective, as well as the most sustainable choice when it comes to drying your laundry.

What ways have you found you’re able to save on laundry?