It's the endless cycle in every busy home, and it's a serious money drain. Experts say it costs about 50 cents for every 45 minutes your laundry is tumbling in the dryer. Seven loads a week a week works out to $200 a year.
One option to cut your energy bill: you could spend $20 on those dryer balls you see on TV. Or for half the cost, make your own! All you need is 100% wool yarn and old pantyhose.
Start by wrapping the yarn around three of your fingers 10 to 20 times. Then, wrap the yarn across the loop you just made. Continue that pattern until the yarn starts to look like a small ball. Continue wrapping the yarn around until your ball is about the size of baseball or softball. Then, put the ball in an old nylon stocking or panty hose. Cinch the hosed ball with a piece of string or nylon and toss it into a normal wash cycle with your laundry. This allows the yarn ball to 'felt', so it won't come apart in the dryer.
In one home test, a medium load of towels took 43 minutes in our dryer. The same load of towels, along with five yarn balls took 35 minutes, cutting the drying time by close to 19 percent.
Now let's talk dirty dishes. Those dishwasher tabs are convenient, but not cheap. Also, some brand-name detergents get F ratings from environmental groups. So why not make your own?
There are many homemade dishwasher detergent recipes online, but many of them contain borax, which is banned for food use by FDA.gov.
Here's a borax-free recipe that's safe for the family.
It has just four ingredients: 1 and a half cups of washing soda, half a cup of baking soda, half a cup of sea salt, and one and a half cup of LemiShine, which is primarily citric acid. You can find it at Target.
One batch makes enough for 32-64 loads for about $5. Put one to two tablespoons in the main tray per load. And the results-- glasses came out streak-free, and the silverware came out spotless!
Finally, did you know that you can freeze dairy? It's true!
The U.S. Census estimates that the average U.S. household spends about $400 per year on dairy. So don't waste it. According the Dairy Council of California, you can freeze milk for up to two months. Many cheeses and even fresh eggs can be frozen and thawed for future use as well.
Just make sure that you pour a little milk out of the container to give it room to expand in the freezer, and thaw the milk in the refrigerator.