Don't wash away money in your laundry

SEATTLE -- If you're like most families, it seems like the laundry is always piled up. The cost of keeping everyone in clean clothes can really add up. But there are some easy steps to follow to save you real money.

Number one, don't overdo the detergent.

Consumer Reports says laundry soaps are now super concentrated, so if you put too much in, you're not just wasting soap but also water, since it can trigger an extra rinse cycle.

"It takes longer to do your laundry and it wastes water. Very often you can't even see the lines in the cap," said Pat Slaven with Consumer Reports.

So Slaven suggests you use masking tape or permanent marker to mark it yourself to use exactly the amount you need.

Money waster number 2? The Hot Cycle. Consumer Reports found up to 90 percent of the energy spent on a wash load is for heating the water.

Number 3; avoid small loads. Wait until you have a full load to start the machine.

Then when you transfer to the dryer, don't set it for timed drying. Instead choose the auto dry so your machine's sensor decides when the clothes are dry. And always be sure to use the highest spin cycle for the fabric washed.

"This reduces the amount of moisture in your clothes," Slavin said. "Then your dryer will have less work to do, and save you energy."

When you get to the dryer, be sure to look for dirty sensors. Fabric Softeners can gum these up, so you'll want to use rubbing alcohol once a month to clean them.

Finally, when you are gathering up clothing to create a full load, make sure you don't stuff everything in there at once. It is more energy efficient to wash and dry similar items together, like a local of just jeans or t-shirts, so everything will dry evenly. And of course never forget to clean out the lint trap, so that clothes dry faster; that too will save you.

The average family does 400 loads of laundry a year. Savings experts say these tips can save you about 70 cents per load, adding up to a whopping $280 a year.