How To Save Money at the Laundromat: 18 Easy Ways

18 Ways to Save Money at the Laundromat

Love it or hate it, doing laundry is a necessary chore.

When you consider that the average American family does 300 loads of laundry per year, you start to realize just how expensive making sure you have clean laundry can be. That’s especially true if you’re going to a laundromat and using coin laundry machines. Between the cost per load for the washer and dryer plus what you spend on laundry products like detergent, stain remover, and fabric softener, putting some of that money back in your pocket would be nice.

Here are some tips to help you save money at the laundromat:

1. Wash Full Loads Only

Doing a small load of laundry costs the same as washing a full load. If you only have a few things that need washing, save money at the laundromat by waiting until you have enough dirty clothes in your laundry basket for a larger load.

You might underestimate the washing machine’s capacity and have a few items left over after doing a full load. Rather than doing a partial load with just a few things, take them home. Wait until you have enough to do another full load.

Just make sure you wash the clothes you wear the most. That way, you won’t have to wait to wash your favorites or something you need for work.

2. Bring Your Own Laundry Supplies

Ever lug your laundry down to the laundromat only to realize you forgot to bring detergent and fabric softener? I have and it’s a costly mistake.

Most laundromats have single-use boxes of detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets for sale. Buying laundry products at the laundromat is way more expensive per load than buying detergent anywhere else.

If you have multiple loads of laundry to do and you buy a few of these items, you’ll realize you could’ve picked up an entire bottle or box of detergent for what you spent.

Don’t forget to bring your own detergent and fabric softener.

3. Use Store Brand Detergent

Brand loyalty is wonderful for companies that convince you no other brand will do. It’s not so wonderful for consumers.

When you stick with one brand, you probably pay more than you should, you might be ignoring better products, and you miss out on better bargains.

Spending less money on detergent by not buying name brands will lower your cost per load at the laundromat.

Costco’s Kirkland brand laundry detergent was named the best value detergent by Consumer Reports and Good Housekeeping. According to their tests, it cleans as well or better than some well-known brands but costs about half as much.

Walmart, Target, and most supermarkets have their own house-brand detergent. Give cheaper laundry detergent a try and save a lot of money over time.

4. Buy Cheaper Laundry Detergent and Fabric Softener

If you just can’t bring yourself to buy a no-name brand laundry product, stop paying the full retail price for them.

Scour the sales flyers in your area and compare prices. At least one national brand is probably on sale somewhere. You can also use coupons and stockpile when you find the lowest available price.

5. Use Less Detergent

You can save money at the laundromat by using slightly less than the recommended amount of detergent. Liquid detergents and powdered soap are highly concentrated. You probably won’t notice a difference by using a bit less detergent per load.

Take it a step further and measure it out before you throw it in the washer. When you use the same amount every time, you know you’re not using more than you need, and you’ll know how many loads you get out of every purchase, and when you’ll run out.

6. Skip the Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets Altogether

Fabric softeners work, but do you really need them?

You don’t need to use a fabric softener for every load. Skip it for workout clothes, towels, and whites. Fabric softeners can mess up the moisture-wicking abilities of athletic wear, reduce the absorbency of towels, and stain white clothing.

If you use dryer sheets instead of liquid fabric softeners, you’re already saving money. Liquids are much more expensive per load.

Dryer balls are the cheapest option and the most environmentally friendly, however. You can pick up a set of six wool dryer balls for $10 to $15 and each dryer ball is good for around 1,000 loads.

You want your clothes to feel soft, smell good, and be wrinkle-free when you take them out of the dryer. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets help, but at an added cost.

7. Try DIY Stain Remover

Stain remover might be a big part of your laundry routine if you have kids or messy adults in your household. You can save money and know exactly what’s in it when you make your own stain remover.

Most homemade stain removers consist of ingredients you probably already have on hand. Some examples include:

  • Dish detergent – Dawn or a more eco-friendly alternative
  • Baking soda – removes odors and is safe for use on all fabrics
  • Hydrogen peroxide – works well on tough stains like wine
  • Lemon juice – natural bleaching for underarm or rust stains on whites

Here’s an easy recipe you can try: DIY Homemade Stain Remover

The next time you run out of stain remover, try making your own. You’ll save a few bucks and get your stained laundry clean.

8. Consider Homemade Laundry Detergent

Homemade detergents can get clothes clean at a much lower cost than store-bought detergents. Some people swear by their homemade laundry detergent recipe. Others say you should never use homemade detergent.

At around five cents a load, it’s very tempting. If you try a DIY detergent recipe, be aware:

  • It may not get clothes as clean as you’re used to
  • The homemade stuff might not work well in cold water or warm water
  • Soap residue can get left behind
  • Colors may fade or look dingy

If you’re worried about the price and chemical ingredients used in commercial laundry detergents, DIY detergent recipes are cheap, simple to make, and can be all-natural. You’ll have to decide whether homemade detergent works well enough for you and whether the cost savings are worth it.

9. Wear Clothes More than Once

There are times when you can wear your clothes more than once before washing them. If I throw on a fresh sweater or something to run a quick errand, it’s not going in the hamper when I get back. If my husband is wearing his old jeans and he’s doing yard work tomorrow, he’s not putting on a clean pair tomorrow morning.

I’m sure you can find plenty of instances where it’s OK to wear a piece of clothing more than once. It’s not just an excuse to avoid doing laundry. Wearing certain articles more than once is practical and saves you money.

10. Do Smaller Loads By Hand

Maybe you have a favorite t-shirt you just have to wear. Or you’re traveling, you’re out of clean socks, and you don’t have access to laundry services.

If you only have a few items to wash, wash them by hand in your sink or bathtub. It’s cheaper and more efficient than trekking to the laundromat and running a tiny load of washing.

You can plug your sink, agitate with your hands, and rinse with clean water. Squeeze out the excess water, but don’t twist or wring out too aggressively and ruin the fabric. Leave your clothes out in the sun or in front of a fan to dry faster.

11. Use a Clothesline for Drying

Kids socks drying on a clothesline.
Image Credit: Unsplash

Drying your clothes on a backyard clothesline might seem old-fashioned, but it still works. Line drying is cheaper than feeding coins into a laundromat dryer, but that’s not all. In addition, line drying conserves energy, reduces wear and tear on your clothing, and makes your clothes smell fresh without chemicals.

Some communities ban outdoor clotheslines in backyards and on apartment balconies. If that’s the case where you live, you can still use an indoor clothesline or drying rack. You’ll get your clothes dry and save money.

12. Check the Lint Trap

Even though it’s not your job, you should still check the dryer lint trap before you put your clothes and your money into the dryer. You don’t know how many people have used the clothes dryers before you, what they put in, or how long it’s been since all the lint was removed.

Heavy lint build-up prevents dryers from operating efficiently. Your clothes will take longer to dry and cost you more money. Too much lint in the trap can also lead to mold and fires.

13. Shake Out Your Clothes Before Drying

There’s nothing more frustrating than pulling soaking wet clothes out of the dryer. You’ve wasted your time and your money.

If you just grab your clothes out of the washer and then dump them straight into the dryer, they’re probably not drying efficiently. When your clothes are balled up, they dry much slower. T-shirts, socks, and bedding don’t dry much if at all when you throw them into the dryer all twisted up.

Shake out each item before it goes into the dryer. Your clothes will dry evenly and faster, saving you money.

14. Stop The Dryer Early

Some laundromats have coin-op dryers that give you a certain number of minutes per quarter. Others are all or nothing where you have to put in a certain amount of money to start the dry cycle. Either way, you don’t have to wait for the machine to stop before adding another load.

Sometimes your clothes will be dry before the cycle completes. Maybe you overestimated dry times and pumped too many quarters into the machine. If you stop the dryer a bit early, you can use the additional time to get another load started without feeding more money into the dryer.

You can also stop when your clothes are dry enough where they’re not dripping Take them home and finish on a clothesline or drying rack at home.

15. Shop Around for the Cheapest Laundromat

Going to the laundromat means never having to worry about running up your electricity bills, using all the hot water, or wear and tear on your expensive appliances. All laundromats aren’t created equal, however.

If you live in a big city or college town, you might have several laundromats in your area. You might be able to check prices online if they have websites, but here are other things to consider:

  • Services offered
  • Cleanliness
  • Quality of the laundry machines
  • Location
  • Business hours

Some of that information will be available online, but it’s worth visiting before you settle on one. You don’t want to find out there’s no place to park or the machines are old and broken when you need clean clothes ASAP. You might only save a quarter or two per load, but it adds up.

16. Join the Rewards Program

Not all laundromats have customer loyalty cards or rewards programs, but take advantage if yours does. You typically earn points for every dollar you spend.

You can usually redeem points for free soap, discounts on washing machine use, or free drying time. One loyalty program I’ve seen offers additional perks, like free soft drinks and candy bars. Joining the program will help you save a little money on laundry.

17. Make Fewer Trips

Making fewer trips to the laundromat saves you time and money on gas. That doesn’t mean you should wait until every scrap of clothing you own is dirty. But you could combine trips to the laundromat with other errands.

You could put your laundry in, hit the pharmacy, and be back in time to put your clothes in the dryer. I would much rather get everything out of the way all at once than do one or two things on three or four separate days.

Combining trips does require some planning. You can probably incorporate your laundry routine with your weekly errands without too much difficulty. You end up driving less while still getting everything done if you can arrange it.

18. Make Money While You Wait

Part of doing laundry is waiting for cycles to complete. That’s the boring part of washing clothes. You could use that idle time to make some extra cash.

You can make some extra money taking surveys, watching videos, or playing games on your phone through apps like SurveyJunkie, Swagbucks, or Mistplay.

Survey apps collect market research data from consumers. They typically pay $1 to $3 per survey so you won’t get rich taking surveys. It’s easy money and it beats doing nothing while you wait for your clothes to dry.

If your laundromat offers free Wi-Fi, there’s a host of side hustles you can work on during your downtime. Side gigs like freelance writing, translation, social media management, or web design can be done from anywhere.

Making money while you’re sitting at the laundromat doesn’t directly save you money on laundry. Earning money during your wait time does increase your income and makes managing your expenses a little easier, though.

Image Credits: Unsplash

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Sara Graham is a frugal living and household budgeting expert. Her writing has appeared on MSN Money, The Good Men Project, Fairygodboss, and several other online publications. She is the co-founder of, a personal finance and frugal living blog.