The cost of living crisis has had the biggest impact on our energy, electricity and water bills. The price of running a household has massively increased and completing everyday tasks like washing and drying your clothes has become even more expensive.
As Deals Writer and Shopping Expert for T3, I’ve been looking for ways to save money around the house, specifically on your energy, water and electricity bills (opens in new tab). One thing that really racks up your monthly bills is how much water you’re using or wasting, and washing machines and tumble dryers are a big component of this.
According to Whirlpool (opens in new tab), the average washing machine uses 20 gallons of water per load. It’s almost impossible to go a week without washing clothes, no matter the size of your household, but this kind of water usage can become extremely expensive and isn’t great for the environment either.
With this in mind, I’ve found 5 washing machine and tumble dryer hacks that can help you save money on your water and energy bills. If you’re looking for a new appliance and aren’t sure which you should choose, check out our guides to the best washing machines (opens in new tab), the best tumble dryers (opens in new tab) and the best washer dryers (opens in new tab).
1. Wash your clothes with cold water
My first tip is to wash your clothes at a lower temperature. Washing your clothes with cold water can reduce your machine’s energy efficiency by half, as 75-90% of the energy and water used in a wash goes towards heating up the water. Do this by washing your clothes at 30° rather than 40-60° or selecting the eco setting on your washing machine, if it has one.
Many people think that washing at a colder temperature isn’t as effective as hot water but this is completely false. Not only does cold water thoroughly clean your clothes, but colder water is less likely to shrink your clothes or cause your colours to run and it reduces wrinkles. All clothes are suited to cold washes, but bedding, towels and gym clothes typically come out better when you use hot water as these items tend to harbour more bacteria.
2. Limit the amount of washes a week
Another way to save water and money on your bills is to cut down on the amount of washes you do a week. If a standard washing machine uses 20 gallons of water per load, doing more than 2 washes a week can use up a huge amount of water. Realistically, try sticking to 1-2 washes a week. When you do a load, wash your clothes on the shortest cycle so you use less water and save more energy. Shorter spin cycles are also reported to cause less damage to your clothes. This is a great way to keep your clothing in top condition, as is not overloading your washing machine.
If you’re overfilling your washing machine, you’re really pushing your appliance to the limit and making it work harder, and therefore use more energy. You can tell if you’re overloading your machine if it’s a struggle to fit everything inside and if your machine is making too much noise. Of course, you want to make sure you’re not wasting water at the same time so try filling your washing machine about two-thirds of the drum.
3. Soak your clothes before washing
We’ve all been there where we’ve put a wash on and our clothes have come out with more stains than they went in with. This results in you having to do another wash and use more water and energy, which makes your monthly bill more expensive. If your clothes are particularly dirty or have a big stain, pre-soaking them before you put them in the washing machine reduces the need to put them in another load. Not only does this save money and reduce additional cycles, but you also avoid making your clothes fade, wrinkle or break.
4. Air dry
While washing machines are the big money drainer, tumble dryers and washer dryers can also be extremely expensive. In my experience as someone who has lived in furnished flats the majority of my life, I've always had a washer dryer that comes with my home. For me, the drying option of my washer dryer doesn’t actually dry my clothes but instead just makes them ‘wet warm’. This is the case with many washer dryers and is a huge waste of money, energy and time.
To cut back on your dryer usage, avoid using a dryer where possible. Sheets and towels need to be dried, as they can get extremely wrinkly and towels can get a rough texture which isn’t pleasant to the skin. Prioritise drying your sheets and towels in the dryer but hanging your other clothing on a washing line, clothes horse or a radiator can reduce the money you spend.
5. Look after your appliances
My final tip is to do some maintenance on your washing machine and tumble dryer. It’s always important to keep your appliances in top condition to keep them working for longer. For your washing machine, make sure to clean it every 3 months. You can do this by using a descaler to reduce and prevent detergent build-up and limescale while can damage the inner mechanics of your machine. If you don’t have any descaler, you can use white vinegar or baking soda, followed by a hot cycle run to remove dirt and scum in the machine.
For your dryer, remember to clean out the lint filter after each cycle to avoid lint and hair getting tangled in your load. Another way to clean your dryer is to add a wool or rubber dryer ball to your cycle. This helps get more airflow into your clothes which makes them dry quicker, and dryer balls also absorb moisture to cut down drying time even further.