When was the last time you read the instructions on your laundry soap, or spent an evening thumbing through your car’s owner’s manual? If you’re like most people, you’re making assumptions about how to use products – and that costs you big bucks and wastes natural resources. That’s why we were happy to find these money and planet saving tips on the environmental website Forecast Earth:

  • Adjust your oil change schedule. Conventional wisdom says that we should change a car’s oil every 3,000 miles, but your owner’s manual probably recommends a range between 3,000 and 10,000. Tom and Ray Magliozzi are the hosts of NPR's “Car Talk.” They say that unless a person tows vehicles or drives in extreme conditions, the average driver can save between $100 and $200 a year by changing their oil every 5,000 miles.
  • Read the label on your laundry detergent. According to Consumer Reports, most measuring cups that come with detergents are marked for small, medium and large loads, but people usually just fill the cup to the top. This means they’re using between two and four times more detergent than they should. Since the typical family does 400 loads a year, that adds up to more than $200 down the drain in soap alone! Plus, using too much detergent wears out clothing faster. So, the next time you do laundry, start with the smallest measure and add more detergent only if the directions say you should, depending on the load.
  • Lather, rinse, but don’t repeat. This one will save about $1 and five gallons of water each day! When reporters at CNN Money looked for the reasons behind the “lather, rinse, repeat” instructions, they found that the “repeat” was added in the 1950s. In those days, people used heavier products like Aqua Net hairspray and Brylcreem, so a second wash was necessary in order to work up a lather. Shampoos and other detergents don’t really need suds to work. Companies add chemicals that produce foam because it makes us feel like we’re getting squeaky clean.