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The real cost of washing your clothes

How long do you spend doing the washing? While we may think that laundry isn’t the most taxing chore around the house, there is a lot that goes into keeping our clothing fresh. 

We’ve done some research on the real cost of clean clothes to give you an insight into how your laundry could be taking advantage of you.

The cost of your washing machine

Aside from the initial cost of your machine, doing the laundry costs money in electricity every time. This is estimated at around 16p per hour of washing. So, if you wash two loads every week and your machine takes 2 hours per load, that’s 64p per week. That comes to an estimated £33.28 per year. 

However, there are households across the country that do 4-5 loads of washing a week, including bedding, towels and clothes. At 4 loads a week, that’s £67 every year on washing. 

£67 is fairly simple to add into your family budget and, coming out in such small amounts, isn’t too noticeable. The real cost of washing your clothes comes in the labour you put in every time you start up your machine.

The work of washing

Taking into account time spent sorting laundry, hanging it out to dry and folding it to be put away, that’s around half an hour per wash. A household doing 4 washes per week is putting in 2 hours of laundry sorting every week. 

In addition, the majority of Brits do about 1-2 hours of ironing per week. Adding these two figures together, that’s an extra 4 hours of labour that goes into the entire laundry process. For the year, that’s 208 hours!

If we only went on minimum wage for a person over 25, £8.72 an hour, this comes to £1,813.76 per year of unpaid work. Given that 50% of Brits say they hate ironing, making it the least liked household chore, and 27% say they dislike doing the laundry, we are putting ourselves through a great deal of unnecessary stress with no compensation.

Winter wardrobe 1 - Love2Laundry

The laundry gender pay gap

As well as the 200 hours labour we put into our laundry every year, YouGov data shows that women are up to six times more likely to do the laundry than men when living together. The research shows that 54% of women are the only ones who do the laundry in their house, compared to 7% of men who say the same. Where some couples are happy to share this 200+ hours of extra labour, 54% of women in relationships say they shoulder this entire burden.

Research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in the US shows that men typically spend around 17.5 hours a week on unpaid labour, compared to 28.4 hours a week carried out by women. This represents $175 (£136) for men and $284 (£220) for women in unpaid labour at the minimum wage. When we are considering the true economic cost of laundry, this takes a much greater toll on the value of women’s time and labour in comparison to men.

With chores like ironing being the most universally hated, leaving laundry all down to women is both costly in labour and satisfaction and these kinds of gender imbalances have further-reaching consequences in the world of work.

While not every part of doing the laundry is as disliked as the ironing, there are still over a quarter of Brits who don’t like doing the washing. With 6 million people in the UK employing someone to do housework, outsourcing or automating your laundry process could save you a great deal of time, labour and even money in the future.

The real cost of laundry

Whether you enjoy it or not, laundry and other household chores take up a load of our free time and that racks up to quite a cost over time. Innovations in technology and communications mean that if you want more time to spend doing the things you love, it’s easier than ever to outsource your chores with tools like Love2Laundry.

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