Cost of living crisis: How to cut laundry costs by £162 this winter

Cost of living A person takes the laundry out of a washing machine in a London home. Picture date: Wednesday April 1, 2020.
Cost of living: Stop doing daily small washes if you want to save money. Photo: PA

With the cost of living squeezing UK households and energy bills set to add even more pressure to families’ budgets, finding where to cut costs is increasingly important.

From maintenance to washing temperature, here are some top tips from consumer group Which? to help save you up to £162 on laundry costs this winter.

1. Wash at a lower temperature

The average washing machine costs about £77 a year to run four washes a week.

Which? tested a range of washing machines to see how washing at lower temperatures affects cleaning and energy use. Switching from 40°C to 30°C saved on average 38% energy, or £29. Going down even further to 20°C saved 62% energy, or £48 per year.

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Lowering the temperature of your wash doesn't mean you need to compromise on cleaning power. Which?’s snapshot test revealed that unless you're washing really soiled clothes, modern machines will do a good job of getting them clean most of the time.

2. Keep your tumble dryer well maintained

Which? tested the performance of heat pump dryers over 20 loads of drying and found that some machines ended up using 50% more energy on the twentieth load than they did during the first load.

The main reason for the dryers becoming less efficient is because lower filters often get blocked up with dust and lint.

The average heat pump dryer costs around £68 per year to do three loads a week, so this additional energy used due to blocked filters could add around £34 to the annual cost.

To stop your dryer from becoming inefficient, be sure to clean and empty the filter regularly.

3. Stop doing daily small washes

The most energy-efficient way of washing clothes is to fill up the drum, rather than washing fewer items on a quick wash programme.

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Quick programs — or speed-up buttons — slightly reduce how much energy is used, but not as effectively as doing bigger normal washes less regularly.

Which? previously checked what effect speed-up functions have on cleaning and energy in May 2019 and found dramatic differences between the three machines tested.

One machine only reduced the energy used by around 20%, while another cut it in half — not enough to justify a daily wash.

Doing a bigger normal wash four times a week ended up using 17% less energy than the average of the three fast daily washes. This would add up to an annual saving of around £13 for the average washing machine. Plus, you’ll make additional savings by using less detergent.

4. Switch laundry detergent

Don’t assume that big brand washing powder, capsules or liquids will wash your clothes better.

Which? tested 36 different laundry detergents and found that the most expensive detergent tested cost 40p per wash, but one of the top-rated supermarket own brand washing powders costs as little as 8p per wash and cleans just as well.

Read more: How to make the most of freebies without paying the price

Switching to a cheaper detergent could save close to £67 per year if you are using your machine four times a week.

5. Look for great value

If you love a deal or are on a tight budget, look out for Which?’s Great Value badge on reviews. The badge is given to products that offer good value for money.

Watch: Martin Lewis warns cost of living crisis will hit people harder in spring than winter