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Surprising Ways to Save on Laundry Expenses

It seems that everyone these days is trying to save a few bucks. If you're like most Americans, you've probably tried to reconfigure your weekly menu with cheaper food items, to downgrade your cell phone plan or to renegotiate your home insurance premiums. Still, if you're looking for other ways to cut back, you're not alone - and you needn't despair. One commonly overlooked way to save money is to stop paying professional cleaners to wash your clothing and other linens. Here are 5 ways to save money on professional cleaning without getting overwhelmed. Good luck!

  1. Clean dress shirts yourself. If you or your spouse wears dress shirts regularly, sending them to the cleaners for a wash and press can save you lots of time each week. But at costs per shirt nearing one dollar or more, you'll likely find that the cost of sending an average of 5-7 shirts to the cleaners each week is extremely expensive. Fortunately, you can get that wrinkle-free look at home. Invest in a separate laundry hamper for dress shirts only (so that they don't get mixed in with the rest of your dirty laundry). Once a week, run a load with all of your dirty dress shirts. Immediately upon completion of the load, throw the shirts into the dryer for 15-20 minutes. Set the dryer to buzz when it's done so that you'll know to remove the shirts immediately. Hang them up for a wrinkle-free finish or fold them if you enjoy the 'fresh from the box' folded look. You'll be amazed at how easy it is to keep your shirts clean and wrinkle free independently. (When you need to replace a shirt, you may also want to consider investing in no-iron shirts which cost slightly more but will look even crisper when you wash them yourself.)

  2. Try do it yourself dry cleaning products. There are a handful of items on the market today that can 'dry clean' your clothing in the comfort of your own home. Look for some coupons which can be found on search engines or on the brands' website, and head over to your local store. Try it once and you'll never go back to the dry cleaner.

  3. Skip the dryer. Not only do the costs of running the dryer add up, but the heat of the dryer can set in stains that didn't quite come out in the dryer, a side effect which is often irreversible. Save money and protect your clothing by using a drying rack instead of throwing it in the dryer. When possible, leave it near an open window or let it dry overnight so that the clothing will air-dry quickly between loads.

  4. Pre-treat properly. There's no question that the most gruesome spills and stains should be pre-treated ASAP. But some stains can be treated within a day or two for equally successful results. A trick I've used in the past is to create a separate laundry hamper or basket for clothing that needs to be pre-treated so that you won't forget this critical step. If you don't want to invest in expensive pre-treatment products, create a 50/50 mix of baking soda and vinegar and use a toothbrush to massage it on the stain before tossing it in the wash.

  5. Iron more easily. Many people send their clothing to the cleaners because they don't want to iron it. But did you know that you can speed up the ironing process with a piece of tin foil? Insert a sheet of tin foil underneath the ironing board cover. The tin foil will retain heat which will speed up your ironing, making the entire process significantly less painful. It might also help to move your ironing board in front of the TV, since ironing always seems less painful when you're watching your favorite show. Skeptical? Try these tactics out for yourself and see how much easier it is to iron. You'll wonder why you ever spent money on professional ironing.
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