Wash for Less: 8 Ways to Reduce Your Laundry Bill and Save
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Wash for Less: 8 Ways to Reduce Your Laundry Bill and Save

Joel Koh
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A recent YouGov survey conducted after the 2020 General Election, found that the chief concern amongst Singaporean voters was the cost of living.

Singapore Cost of Living Top Concern
Source: YouGov

And understandably so, as many households in Singapore have been feeling suffocated by the pressures brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, rising utility bills and the cost of living in general.

Sure there have been U-save vouchers given to offset our utility bills, but, we still have to contend with the 30 per cent water price hike that was fully implemented in Q2 2018. While electricity tariffs have actually fallen this quarter; I am sure you won’t be opposed to saving more money.

And one great way to do so will be on your laundry bill.

Here are some easy to implement tips to reduce water usage, conserve energy and help you save potentially $70.10 a year on laundry.

Note: the calculations made for this article are ONLY an estimation based on the average household in Singapore; your mileage may vary. But if you follow these tips, the savings on your laundry bill might be significant.


TL;DR: Wash For Less: 8 Tips to Reduce Your Laundry Bill

MachineLaundry TipCost Savings in a Year (SGD)
Washing MachineWash Full Loads & Wash Less$21.20
Use Cold Water Instead of Hot Water$24.70
Use House Brand Detergent$5.50
Use The Right Amount of Detergent$12.40
Replace Fabric Softener With Vinegar $6.30
DryerUse Your Washing Machine’s High-Speed or Extended CycleN.A.
Get Dryer Balls
Clean the Lint Filter on the Dryer Regularly
Total Savings: $70.10

Washing Machine

Although water and electricity usage is different from machine to machine, you can optimise the way your machine is used to save them dollars!

1. Wash Full Loads

First, some quick math.

In 2018, it was estimated that the average person in Singapore uses 141 litres (ℓ) of water every single day. In a year, that’s about 51,465ℓ of water which equates to about 51.5 cubic metres (Cu M) of water per person in a year.

The average Singaporean household also has 3.16 people, which I will round down to 3, as no household would have 3.16 people.

Thus, an average Singaporean household uses about 154.5 Cu M of water each year

If you look at Public Utilities Board (PUB) Singapore’s water prices, the cost of water is $2.74 per Cu M if your household uses less than 40 Cu M of water a month,

If your household uses more than 40 Cu M of water a month the cost is $3.69 per Cu M.

As such, for an average household in Singapore, the water bill should amount to $423 a year.

Water Usage in Singapore
Source: PUB (Singapore)

According to PUB, laundry takes up 15 per cent of water usage at home.

The first step to take will be to wash your clothes less frequently by filling up your washing machine to its max recommended capacity.

This actually results in cleaner clothing, as generally, more clothing results in more agitation in the washing machine and a better clean.

If you don’t have enough for a full load, you can let your clothes pile until you do.

Also, some clothes like jeans also do not need to be washed.

Savings

By loading up your washing machine fully each time, I estimate that you can cut down the number of times you do laundry by about 1/3. This means you will save about $21.20 a year on your utility bill.

2. Use Cold Water Instead of Hot Water

Here’s a fun fact, according to Consumer Reports, an independent non-profit organisation that tests consumer products in the US, about 90 per cent of the electricity a washing machine uses goes towards heating the water.

In other words, if you wash with cold water, you can save up to 90 per cent on your washing machine’s electricity consumption as only about 10 per cent goes to electricity to power the washer motor.

Today, most liquid detergents are formulated to clean effectively with cold water as they can putting enzymes to work in removing dirt and stains at lower water temperatures, and are less effective at higher temperatures.

In addition, you should avoid powdered detergents for cold water washes, as they do not dissolve as well, and may leave a white residue on your clothes.

Washing with cold water is also gentler on your clothes, as washing with hot water may cause your clothes to shrink.

Savings

To calculate the savings from switching to cold water to wash your clothes, we will look at a few metrics.

Currently, most Singaporeans live in four-room flats with 31.8 per cent of all households residing in them.

From January to July, the national average electricity consumption for households living in four-room flats is 364.2 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month.

If you multiply that by 12, the average Singaporean household will consume 4370.4 kWh of electricity in a year.

As such, for an average household in Singapore, the water bill should amount for $916.40 a year based on the current electricity tariff rate of 20.97 cents/kWh (w GST).

NEA Average Household Eneergy Consumption Profile
Source: E2 Singapore (NEA)

And according to E2 Singapore, a department under the National Environment Agency (NEA), the washing machine accounts for about 3 per cent of electricity consumption.

If you switch to using cold water you could reduce this amount by about 2.7 per cent; which means that you will be saving about $24.70 a year for your household’s electricity bill.

Use Shorter Cycles

In addition, a study from the University of Leeds has found that washing clothes with shorter cycles and cold water will make your clothes last longer.

This is largely because the number of microfibers and the quantity of dye the clothes release during the washing process is reduced.

Shorter cycles will also generally mean less electricity consumption. This point is not as quantifiable as it varies for different washing machines.

As such you can try out the shorter cycle and see if your clothes are just as clean!

Personally, I have switched to washing my clothes with a 15 minutes cycle, down from a 45 minutes cycle, and I could hardly notice the difference.

3. Use House Brand Detergent

I would think that there is a preconceived notion that house brands products are of inferior quality.

But, I don’t think that is the case for everything as the production quality of alternative options has caught up, and many of the house-brands that are being sold by supermarkets themselves are actually just as good as the ones being sold by big brand names.

House M.D.
Source: House M.D. | Giphy

To save on detergent costs, you can give these house brands a try and see if you are satisfied with the results.

Often, what I find is that a lack of familiarity with the brand name, may not mean that the product is bad as the more established brand names have spent millions to convince us that their laundry detergent or fabric softener is best.

You be the judge.

One way to do it is to compare the ingredients list of these detergents and do your own test for your clothes.

Savings

According to a Nilsen survey conducted in 2016 about the home cleaning laundry preferences of Singaporeans, a majority (~35%) of those surveyed did their laundry two or more times per week while 25% of locals did it every day.

Assuming that the average Singaporean washes their clothes 2.5 times a week and uses one cup of liquid detergent (~60ml) per wash, would mean they use about 7.9 kg/ℓ of liquid detergent a year. This amounts to about two bottles of 4.4 kg/ℓ detergent each year.

If you switch to a house brand like FairPrice detergent which costs about $9.65 per bottle, compared to a more upmarket brand like Top detergent that costs $12.40; you will save about $5.50 a year.

4. Use Less Detergent

If you do not want to switch to a house brand, there is another alternative.

Try using less or half of the recommended amount.

The measuring cup that comes with your liquid detergent has a capacity of about 60ml, which is often double of the amount you need for a good clean wash.

And according to leading American home site The Spruce, you only need two tablespoons (~30ml) of liquid detergent if you have you have a high-efficiency washing machine —top load or front load.

This amount will work for most washes and you probably will not notice a difference in the cleanliness level of your laundry.

how-much-detergent-per-load
The Spruce

Savings

If you stick to non-house brands you will save $12.40 a year, as consumption of detergent is about halved.

5. Use Vinegar as Fabric Softener

To replace fabric softener, add a half-cup of distilled white vinegar to the wash during the rinse cycle. Your clothes will feel softer and look brighter without any harsh chemicals.

Distilled white vinegar acts as a natural fabric softener and leaves no residue on laundry.

Don’t worry about the smell, it will completely dissipate once the clothes are washed.

Savings

Assuming that the average Singaporean washes their clothes 2.5 times a week and uses one cup of fabric softener (~60ml) per wash, would mean they use about 7.9 kg/ℓ of liquid detergent a year. This amounts to about 1.8 bottles of 5ℓ fabric softener each year.

If you switch to vinegar, a 3.5ℓ bottle of Woh Hup white vinegar costs about $3.50 per bottle while a more upmarket brand like Sofsil costs $7 per bottle; this means that you will save about $6.30 a year by buying just one bottle of vinegar.

6. Dryer

Next, we move on to the dryer. Of course, the best way to save money is to not use the dryer at all and air-dry your clothes.

corgi hanging on clothes line
Source: Giphy

But, I understand that using the dryer is a way of life for many people doing laundry in Singapore.

Here are some additional non-quantifiable tips to optimise your dryer’s electricity consumption and protect your clothes.

Use Your Washing Machine’s High-Speed or Extended Cycle

Generally, washing machines consume more electric than dryers.

By using your washing machine’s high-speed or extended cycle, you are letting the more efficient washing machine do more of the drying work,

This reduces the drying time and electricity consumption from the dryer and reduces the wear on your clothes from the high heat of the dryer as well.

7. Get Dryer Balls

Another way to improve the efficiency of your dryer is to use dryer balls.

dryer balls singapore
Source: Dryer Balls Singapore

Adding wool or rubber dryer balls will help separate your clothes and improve airflow and reduce drying time.

In addition, the wool balls are said to be able to absorb some moisture, further reducing drying time.

8. Clean the Lint Filter on the Dryer

Last but not least, remember to clean your dryer’s lint filter as it will help your dryer run more efficiently.

Experts recommend that you should clean the lint filter on your dryer every time you wash your clothes.

Closing Thoughts

I know what you’re thinking…

All this and you only save just $70.10 a year? You can only buy about 20 plates of $3.50 chicken rice with the money.

hainanese chicken rice
Source: mila0506 | Flickr

But hear me out. These tips are generally quite easy to implement and do not require a big lifestyle change.

Also, calculations are based on estimations for the average family in Singapore, you might save more if you use the machine more often.

Not to mention, that implementing these tips will be better for your clothes as well.

Got Any Other Money-Saving Life Hacks?

Share them with our SeedlyCommunity and spread the knowledge and savings around!

About Joel Koh
History student turned writer at Seedly. Before you ask, not a teacher. My time as a history student has equipped me with the skills to evaluate the impact societal development has on financial and nonfinancial events.
You can contribute your thoughts like Joel Koh here.

Still have more questions after reading the article? Fret not, ask our community here!

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