How much is your laundry REALLY costing you?

February 15, 2011 at 6:42 pm 6 comments

To accurately answer that question, first answer :

A. How often do you wash your laundry?
B. Do you have any kids? (their laundry often requires more detergent)
C. How effective is your laundry detergent?

After reading this article, you may never have to shop the laundry aisle again.

According to Procter & Gamble Co., the average American family washes about 300 – 390 loads of laundry per year, or about 6-7.5 loads per week.

With this in mind, we were curious to compare the consumption costs between the two leading detergent brands, Tide & Seventh Generation and our SmartKlean Laundry Ball per year or every 300-390 loads.

Tide Detergent

Tide’s largest and longest-lasting jug of liquid detergent (image above) claims to allow up to 96 loads. This 150-ounce jug is priced at .21 cents per ounce. The price for this jug is $31.50.

Although Tide might claim their 150 oz. jug of detergent washes 96 loads, based on past experiences, we believe this jug (for the average consumer) really only lasts about half of those loads because we would find ourselves constantly shopping for detergent every 3-4 weeks with a family of 5. Most times we would need to apply double the dose for heavily soiled items (such as kids’ clothes) because the detergent simply wouldn’t work well enough with the recommended amount. In addition to this, based on a consumer research poll, we found that consumers spend an average of $15-25 once or twice a month on detergent.

This means that on average, people spend between $180 – $600 per year (or every 300-390 loads) on laundry detergent.

Washing laundry as often as the average American, this means that Tide’s largest jug ($31.50) is consumed anywhere from 4-12 times per year  (4 if you’re actually following the recommended amount and 12 if you’re like the average consumer visiting the grocery store every 2-4 weeks to re-up) totaling to an average yearly consumption of $120.00 – 378.00 or more.

Seventh Generation

Now let’s look at a greener option, Seventh Generation’s Liquid Laundry 2x Ultra Concentrate 150 oz. bottle which claims to allow up to 99 loads at an average price of about .13 cents /oz. or about $20.00. We will also estimate that in reality, for some families, it may only allow up to 30 loads.

This means that Seventh Generation’s largest and longest-lasting jug is consumed about 4-12 times per year (or more) which sums up to about $80.00 – $240.00 per year or more.

SmartKlean Laundry Ball

The SmartKlean laundry ball works at its maximum power for about 365 washes at a price of $45.00.

According to American’s average washer, this means that SmartKlean’s laundry ball will only need to be purchased about once every year.

Additional cost factors:

When comparing these two popular brand detergents to the SmartKlean laundry ball, one must also consider significant cost factors that the SmartKlean Laundry Ball does NOT incur such as the cost of water used to run a rinse cycle (since the ball produces no suds or residues it requires no rinse) and the electricity consumed to occasionally wash with hot water when using conventional detergents as SmartKlean cleans all fabrics thoroughly only using cold water. Let’s take a look at the comparison below.

1. Water & Electricity

How much water will I be saving with the SmartKlean Laundry Ball?

Each wash cycle requires about 20 – 40 gallons of water. Roughly half of the water is used for the wash cycle and half for the rinse cycle. If you use top-loaders, you should know that front-loading washers use 40-75% less water and 30-85% less energy.

Top-loading washers: Use about 20 gallons for rinse cycles.

Front-loading washers: Use about 8-15 gallons for rinse cycles.

This means that detergents require an average of 3,000-8,000 gallons of water per year.

Without suds or chemicals to rinse off, the SmartKlean Laundry Ball does NOT require a rinse cycle . That’s right, you can skip it entirely!

With top loaders, SmartKlean saves about 6,000 – 7,800 gallons of water per year. The average cost of water utilities in the U.S is about $5.50 per 1000 gallons. This means you can save from $33.00-$44.00+ per year only on rinse cycles!

With front-loaders, this saves anywhere from 2,400 – 5,850 gallons of water.

[Formula: x gallons of water used in ea. rinse cycle times x number of household laundry washes per year (based on an avg. of 300-390 loads per year)].

Think about it. This is an estimate for just one person or household.  Imagine how beneficial it would be for our planet, if rinse cycles were totally eliminated from the laundry process.

How much energy will I be saving with the SmartKlean Laundry Ball?

To heat water, a whopping 90% of the energy used by washing clothes often goes just to heat the water! Below is a chart provided by ‘Ask Mr. Electricity’ indicating the prices per load and year with varied temperature settings on a top loader.

chart source

As seen in the chart above, with a top loader, using cold water with the SmartKlean laundry ball can save up to 68 cents per load (68 cents for hot water load minus 4 cents for cold load) or $249 per year in comparison to washing only with hot water.

With front loaders, using cold water with the SmartKlean laundry ball can save up to 21-57 cents per load, or about $175-210 per year in comparison to washing only with hot water.

Of course, most people don’t only wash their laundry with hot water throughout the year, however, if most people run hot wash cycles, for instance, just 1/3 of the time they wash their laundry (one third of of 300-390 washes per year), you are still saving about $83.00 per year with top loaders and $58-70.00 per year (front loaders) with SmartKlean...on energy alone!

Reference information:

If you’ve gotten this far, have you realized that the savings you can make with water & electricity alone will pay for the laundry ball itself?

2. Wardrobe wear & tear caused by detergents

So your closet is becoming a spectrum of fading colors. A shirt that was once red is now this pale maroon. Black tights are now a dark gray. Many people have a significant investment in their wardrobe and once their clothes have faded or worn out, they lose their value and are often discarded. It is no question that Tide and other leading conventional detergent cause fading and deterioration in fabrics, some in shorter time than others. But to our surprise, according to one of the product reviews on Seventh Generation’s website, their eco-friendlier solution fades dark clothing even more than other detergents:

“Good stuff, but…

Posted by severine999 | Fri, May. 14, 2010

I regularly use Seventh Generation dish detergent and laundry detergent. Love them both…except the laundry detergent seems to fade my good dark work clothes faster than other detergents I’ve used in the past. I still use the laundry detergent on everything else; it does a great job cleaning and I love that it has no scent. However, I use a dark-clothes formula on those work clothes. Makes me sad, actually, as they always have a really strong perfume, which I can’t stand. Look into a dark clothes laundry detergent formula, Seventh Generation!”

Eco-friendly, but not so Wardrobe-friendly..

The SmartKlean laundry ball is chemical-free and its physical properties help maintain the life and color of fabrics.

So expensive wardrobe doesn’t need to fade and wear out to be kept clean? Nope!

3. Cost of time and gas required to purchase detergent

Think about the moment you realize you’re out of detergent. Bummer. Your next thought is you need to go to the store to buy more. Then shortly after that you think of the money you need to dish out for it. You get in your car and drive to the store to find yourself in the smelly detergent aisle making your decision to buy an expensive gallon of ultra concentrated detergent smelling of “clean breeze”. You wait about 5-10 minutes in line thinking about the load of clothes waiting for you and how fast you want to get it done. You finally get home with your heavy jug of Tide and continue your sorting duties. You break through the seal, and carefully measure the right amount into the cap, hoping it won’t spill and cause a sticky mess around you, to then pour these  toxic chemicals into the washer with your laundry. You repeat this several times over and over until you reach the last drop of detergent in that jug. You do it all over again in a few weeks.

As noted earlier, using SmartKlean requires only ONE purchase per year, and that’s if you’re actually washing 300-400 loads per year. Although it is difficult to calculate the cost of time and gas required to purchase detergent, it is clear that SmartKlean takes a fraction of that time. The cost of gas required to purchase detergents obviously depends on how far a person lives from the convenience store, so that calculation must be measured on your own if you’re up for the task 🙂 However, the quick purchase of a laundry ball after your 365th wash is much more convenient, sustainable and frugal than taking a trip to the detergent aisle once every few weeks. Not to mention the time saved with the ease of using the laundry ball.

4. Cost of additional products: fabric softeners, dryer sheets, bleach.

Static cling? Wrinkled clothes? Some of the chemicals used in both conventional and alternative detergents often call for additional products such as fabric softeners, dryer sheets or bleach. Even Seventh Generation has their line of extra products such as these. This is because one chemical has a certain effect on fabric and another is needed to disguise it if it turns out unsuitable for your garments. Or simply because the detergent doesn’t get the job done efficiently in different conditions of tap water (soft / hard).

Using no chemicals, SmartKlean maintains fabrics and fibers like new, it removes any static cling entirely, and by expanding fibers it keeps them soft naturally. And by the way,  if you’re looking for softness, you can add a cup of white vinegar to your washes. It is a much cheaper, safer and greener alternative to fabric softener – and just as effective. You don’t need to worry about the smell of vinegar as it completely goes away after the wash.

So why are we using toxic, expensive fabric softeners again? Is it for the scent? Oh wait, you mean pthalates?
Bleach is overrated, toxic and unnecessary. It is understandable why we would want to whiten our clothes, but there are much, much cheaper, healthier, and greener alternatives for bleach.  You can use lemon juice, borax, washing soda, baking soda,  and / or natural sunshine. You can even use sodium perborate which is actually an ingredient in detergents used to whiten and on its own it is cheap, easily accessible and safe to use for our health and environment. Get creative! Experiment. Save your money!

So you’re saying that SmartKlean eliminates bleach, fabric softener and dryer sheets from your grocery list?

Yes! Here’s some more saving facts:

If you shop conventional:

Clorox Bleach (96 fl oz) (16 loads) = $10.00 or $180 – $300 per year if you purchase 1 per month.
Bounce Dryer sheets (120 sheets / loads) = $15.27 or $30-$50 per year if you purchase 1 per month.
Fabric Softener (40 loads) = $10.00 or $75.00-$100 per year if you purchase 1 per month.

This means SmartKlean can save up to $450.00 per year on these additional laundry products.

And remember, these three are among the most toxic and hazardous products you can have in your home.

If you shop green:

Seven Generation Chlorine-Free Bleach (64 fl oz ) or (10 loads) = $21.69 or $650-$850 per year if you purchase 1 per month.
Seventh Generation Natural Dryer sheets (65 sheets /loads) = $12.29 or $55-$75 per year if you purchase 1 per month.
Seventh Generation Fabric Softener (40 loads) = $8.00 or $60.00 – $80.00 if you purchase 1 per month.

So if you’re using all these once a month, this means SmartKlean can save up to $1,005.00 per year on these additional green laundry products.

In total savings, counting detergents, utilities, and additional products only, you can save up to $1,600.00 or more
every 300-390 loads of laundry!

And this amount doesn’t include your wardrobe’s lifespan, gas costs incurred by frequent grocery store visits to re-up and possible implications these products may bring to your health or your family’s.

How does the SmartKlean Laundry Ball work?
Where can I buy the SmartKlean laundry ball?
SmartKlean FAQ
SmartKlean Laundry Ball Video

So why pay extra?

99.8% of Americans use commercial household detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets and other chemical cleaners. Luckily, with increasing awareness and opposition, people are finally starting to get the news: by using chemical-laden products, you are exposing yourself and your family to toxin-related health problems.

Did you know? Many people are unaware that their favorite detergents are not soap, they are petrochemicals derived from crude oil. So though you may be paying up to $4.00 for a gallon of gas, you are probably paying around $14-20 for a gallon of detergent! This is because as oil prices go up, the raw materials for detergent goes up with it, and the end user ends up paying for it. Learn the Truth About Laundry Detergents.


Aside from all the cash people spend on conventional laundry products, think of the price we, our children, our pets and our planet are paying for these products. Most of them pose health risks to people, children and pets living in your own home, especially to those who do the most laundry and breathe in the most fumes. The price is too high. Why do we use toxic and expensive laundry products? Convenience is no longer a good enough answer.

Entry filed under: Home and Health, Natural Cleaning, Smart Laundry Tips, SmartKlean News, Sustainability & Lifestyle. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

10 Vital Home Services We Take for Granted A Wake Up Story

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. JAYBABT  |  January 20, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    Wow Jaybaby likes this

  • 2. homemade wool dryer balls. | samantha la  |  June 12, 2015 at 3:29 am

    […] static naturally without chemicals. These can last for years vs commercial products. According to SmartKlean: Bounce Dryer sheets (120 sheets / loads) = $15.27 or $30-$50 per year if you purchase 1 per […]

  • 3. Roma  |  March 24, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Do you have a spam issue on this blog; I also
    am a blogger, and I was wanting to know your situation; we have created some nice methods and we are looking to swap methods with others, be sure to shoot me an email if interested.

  • 4. Intern  |  June 6, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    These are definitely some good tips. Of course, one can go beyond the basics and focus on other ways to reduce energy/water consumption like installing faucet aerators and running washers only when they are full, and perhaps even setting a jar in the toilet tank to displace some of the water. Toilets can operate on much less water than they use, and every little bit helps you save some “green”. Or if you really want to go all out, you can also invest in a low-flow energy-efficient water appliances. In fact, here’s a link to a few I found

  • […] (Stats from Smart Klean) […]

  • […] Read this article for more information on money, water and electricity savings with SmartKlean. […]


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