Not all laundry detergents and fabric softeners work as well as others. In fact, sometimes the cheaper brands perform just as well, if not better. So skip the big brands and shop around. You could be surprised. Another option is to make your own. Laundry detergent and fabric softener can be made in bulk from common and easily obtainable household products like washing soda, borax and bars of soap; it'll be vastly cheaper than what you'll usually find at the store. It's also a good idea to monitor closely how much of detergent and softener you're using. Often, using a full cup's worth is overkill.
When it comes to good washing practices, make an effort to wash as many full loads as possible, using cold water when you can. Both will help save when it comes time to pay the utility bills. Along the same lines, if you're able to use a clothesline configuration instead of tumbling clothes in the dryer, do that as well. Dryers suck up a good amount of power and reduce the lifetime of your clothing. If you do need to use the dryer, make sure to keep the lint collector clear and don't ditch dryer sheets after a single use; they can usually stay effective through a couple of cycles. You can also cut them into smaller pieces, spreading out their product lifetime that way.