It's that time of year again. The kids are heading off to school and you have to pay a little more attention to the laundry. Your hampers will be overflowing with sports gear and school clothes in no time, but getting your kids' clothes clean doesn't have to be expensive.

1. Wash Less Often

You don't have to wash your clothes after every wear. Depending on the item, you can go days before it has to be tossed in the hamper. For example, you only need to wash your jeans every 4 to 5 wears. And certain tops can be worn up to three times before washing. Consult the Real Simple When-to-Wash-it Handbook for more information.

2. Wash Only Full Loads

You may use less water when washing a half a load versus a full load, but you are using the same amount of energy. Don't waste it. Always fill the washer before starting it up.

3. Wash in Cold Water

Up to 90% of the energy used to wash your clothes is just to heat up the water. So wash them with cold water and you'll be saving cold hard cash.

4. Use Shorter Wash Cycles

Unless your clothes are filthy, skip the heavy-duty cycle in favor of a shorter cycle. This will help you use less energy and save money in the end.

5. Use Less Detergent

Be careful how much detergent you are dumping into the washer. Most of us fill to a line on the cup that we can barely see and some of us skip the cup all together. You only need about a ¼ of a cup, so read the directions on the bottle of detergent and don't waste your cash by wasting detergent.

6. Skip the Dryer Sheets

I don't use dryer sheets. After my daughter was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, I tried to rid our home of anything that carried a chemical odor. (Even if your dryer sheets smell like lavender — they aren't actually made of lavender.) I didn't want her little lungs inhaling chemicals all day long. I haven't missed them one bit.

7. Skip the Dryer

Even in the colder months, you can hang your clothes to dry. You can use drying racks or your shower curtain rod. I've even been known to throw damp clothes over the top of a door. Any time you can skip using the dryer means you are using less energy and spending less money.

8. Remove Lint From the Dryer

If you do use the dryer, make sure you keep it clean. Don't forget to clean the lint trap and the dryer vent, too. It is a money hazard when lint builds up in these two spots because moist air can't escape and the dryer has to work harder.

9. Avoid the Dry Cleaner

If you can, avoid buying clothes that are dry clean only. But don't fret if you get home from the store and find that all of your daughter's must-have back-to-school clothes are dry clean only. Some of them can be hand washed in the sink and hung to dry, while the rest can be tossed in the dryer with a little Dry Cleaner's Secret. It only takes 20 minutes to clean up to five garments, so don't leave them in longer than you need to.

And there you have it. Clean clothes at a fraction of the cost — and more money to spend on you. Happy laundering!

More Laundry Tips:

This post was included in the Everything Home blog carnival.