5 ways to save money on laundry without ruining your cute clothes

Pssst, it's possible!

A pink bubbly background with pictures of laundry care labels on it.
(Image credit: Future / Getty / Beth Mahoney)

When I first headed to college, one of the things I was most worried about was doing my own laundry. It sounds silly when there are so many other things to think about, but trying to figure out laundry symbols and becoming solely responsible for making sure I had clean clothes and fresh bedding to sleep in was new to me. Until I moved into a dorm, that is. The struggle was real!

It wasn’t just the thought of actually doing my laundry, it was also the cost of it that freaked me out. Because, let’s be honest, doing your laundry while living in a dorm can be super expensive. You want to save your money for Starbucks and going out, not the gross washing machines in the basement laundry room. 

That said, there are lots of little ways that you can make doing laundry while saving money achievable — even when you're in college. All of these are tried and tested by yours truly, are srsly easy, and shouldn’t ruin your clothes either. Getting a new OOTD isn't cheap either! 

1. Start a laundry rotation

I used to swear by this in college. It reduced how often I needed to clean my clothes and saved me a ton of money. Wondering how it works? It’s simple: You separate your clothes into set A and set B, wearing one set for a week, before swapping them out for the other set and washing them. So, instead of needing to wash all your clothes every week, you can reduce the amount you’re washing, which means less laundry detergent is needed and less money is spent at the laundrette. 

2. Be smart with detergent

Be selective when it comes to choosing a detergent. Your mom or dad might have always bought a certain brand and scent, but if you want to cut costs you’re going to need to be a li'l more frugal. Buy detergent that’s on sale, shop around for the best price, or tag along with a friend who has a Costco membership and snag a deal on wholesale sizes. 

3. Swap out fabric softener for white vinegar

This is one vinegar laundry hack we love. Instead of adding fabric softener to every wash, consider swapping it out for a capful of white vinegar. Admittedly, white vinegar won’t give your laundry a nice scent, but what it will do is soften your clothes. It costs a fraction of the price of a super fancy fabric softener and goes so much further. 

4. Air dry clothes

Using a dryer can be super expensive, especially if you have a lot to dry (and have to pay for said dryer). So, whenever possible, aim to air dry your clothes using an airer. For compact dorm rooms, you can pick up slimline vertical clothes horses that won’t clutter your room — I had one of these and it was a total game-changer for cutting costs. FYI, if you do have to use a dryer for any reason, opt to invest in some dryer balls as they'll speed up the drying time and cut costs. There are also plenty of items that can't be dried, so pay attention to those clothing tags, too!

5. Use a laundry freshening spray

A handy hack for making clothes last longer is to use a laundry freshening spray, like these ones from Amazon. All you need to do is spritz your stuff, leave it to air dry, and you should find that any unpleasant odors quickly disappear. For ensuring that your clothes stay fresh between washes, these kinds of sprays work wonders. 

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.