Laundry, it's a never ending chore. There are always dirty clothes to be washed, dried and put away. Here's some things I've done to try to lower the cost.
1. My latest project has been homemade laundry soap. Here's the site with the recipe I used. http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2008/04/09/making-your-own-laundry-detergent-a-detailed-visual-guide/ It also has a great cost comparison that I won't try to recreate. I made this a week ago and really like it. Here's the recipe:
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing soda (Not baking soda)
1/2 cup Borax
1 bar of soap, grated (I used Ivory)
Put 4 cups of water in a pot. Boil, then reduce to a simmer. Slowly add the grated bar of soap, stirring constantly until it is all dissolved.
Put 3 gallons of warm water into a five gallon bucket. Stir in Washing Soda and Borax. Add your soap soup. Stir until well mixed.
Cover and leave overnight. Stir and use!
This stuff is really lumpy and slimy, but I've read that the consistency will very from batch to batch. I use about one cup per load and have really liked the results. I used name brand Ivory because Dan has some allergies and I know he's not allergic to Ivory. I've bought generic soaps before that have given him a hard time. I've read about people using Irish Spring or even Caress.
I'm thinking that because I used a mild soap it might even be a good replacement for Dreft for babies. Of course, I ended up only using Dreft for a short time with Josiah because I realized that I was using regular detergent on his diapers. I figured if that didn't bother him in his diapers that it wouldn't bother him anywhere else, either!
2. Get a clothes line and use it! I really like using my clothes line for several reasons. It saves a lot of electricity, both from the dryer itself and the heat it adds to the house. Also, Josiah would rather be outside than inside. He plays and stays busy while I hang the clothes. He also likes "helping" by handing me clothes pins or picking them up when I drop them. I feel "virtuous" when I see the clothes drying on the line!
Here's how I do laundry when I dry it on the line. I try to do it all in one day. I usually start the night before with heavy darks because they take the longest to dry. First thing the next morning I do sheets and towels. I hang the sheets on the outside lines so that they hide our - ahem - unmentionables. We have several neighbors who see everything in our yard and we don't like having our underwear on display!
Then I do the rest of the whites, the rest of the darks and the reds. That usually takes care of all of our clothes for the week. We don't always have that many loads, it just depends.
If an article of clothing belongs on a hanger I put it on a plastic one to dry. I still dry socks in the dryer. I hate putting on crunchy socks!
If I start around 8:30 in the morning I usually have everything washed and on the line by lunchtime. Unless it's threatening to rain I don't bring things in until it's cooled down in the evening. I often fold things and put them in baskets according to what room they belong in as I take them off the line. It makes them less wrinkled than just stuffing them all in a laundry basket and folding later.
The most important part of hanging clothes on the line is shaking them briskly before and after hanging. This does two things: It makes them softer and helps dislodge any possible insect visitors that like to hang out on the line with the clothes! The texture of some things, like towels, is rougher than when they're dried in the dryer. Some people put them in the dryer for a few minutes to fluff, but I don't like that extra step. I'm too lazy for that.
I guess that's it. These are both simple things, but the savings add up.