1. Less is more.
Use a little less detergent than the amount recommended on the box. Detergent manufacturers suggest more than the amount needed to effectively wash your clothes. In fact, fabrics can deteriorate over time if too much detergent is used.
2. Dry clothes outside.
When possible, hang wet clothes outside to dry. There's nothing like sheets, towels, and clothes that have dried in the sun.
Sashiko fabric I hand-embroidered
drying on the clothesline.
That being said, the clothes can be stiff sometimes. If this is an issue for anyone in your family, simply put the clothes or other items that the person will use in the dryer for 5-10 minutes on low heat to soften them.
Sophia holding one of her tops that we tried to dry
on the fence in November 2007 in frigid weather.
Needless to say, all the clothes froze in stiff shapes like this shirt did.
So much for drying clothes during the colder months.
3. Load size matters.
Packing clothes into the dryer prevents the wet load from tumbling so the hot air can do its job. Conversely, drying too few items means they'll cling to the dryer drum rather than tumble.
4. Similar items go together.
Put items of a similar weight together to maximize drying time. If there are heavy pieces (like towels) mixed with lighter items (like socks or a short-sleeve shirt), the lighter items will take much longer to dry. Just be sure not to pack too many heavy pieces in the dryer at once or it will take a long time to dry them.
5. Get Children to Help
Most children who are four years old and older are capable of putting away their own clothes as well as sorting and folding laundry. This teaches practical life skills as well as simple math skills (e.g., sorting colors, sorting similar items, matching socks).
Olivia learning how people use to wash clothes by hand.
(This was taken at Gammelgarden Museum in May 2012.)