Do you have a laundry monster, a mountain of laundry that sucks away your entire weekend, eating up time and your desire to ever do laundry again? Mine used to urge me to throw away all the dirty clothes and start over. But, I figured out that with few changes in my routine, I could get out from under the monster and finish all our family laundry without tears. Okay, a little over dramatic, but you get the point.
The one major alteration that needed to be made was laundry day had to stop being one specific day. Like doing the dishes and making the bed, laundry needs to be a daily chore. Let’s see what changes you can do every day to maximize your laundry routine and save you tons of time.
Tip #1: Do some laundry every day.
Taking the time to throw a load of laundry in each day saves more time in the long run. Instead of doing all the loads in one day, take 15-20 minutes each day to wash at least one load. Go about my normal daily routines, then dry the load and shake out the items and start the sorting process.
Tip #2: Stock clean baskets and dirty baskets.
For so long, I was pulling clothes out of one basket, washing the dirty items inside and then dumping them back into the same basket. This was inefficient as well as ineffective. My kids’ clothes are really dirty. And after I was washing them, I was putting those clean clothes back into the basket that held all that dirt! Unless you are really diligent about cleaning out your laundry baskets, this is not a great plan. We have dirty baskets for whites, darks, and colors. This saves me some extra time sorting before I wash.
Tip #3: A clean basket for every person.
I used to dump all the clean clothes into a basket and then sort, leaving me under a pile of clothes. Now, as I pull each item out, I fold it and put it in a proper basket. We have five members in our family, so I sort each person’s clothes into their own basket. This is how I store our baskets until we are ready to put clothes away. I realize all these shelves in a laundry room, is a luxury. If you don’t have a place for these, you can lay items flat in the baskets and stack the baskets until you’re ready to put all the clothes away.
Tip #4: Simplify your sorting.
This starts before you even add the laundry detergent. In order to help myself and my family sort and put away their own clothes, I developed a system to make it easier. I have small children, ages six and under. To create a system where they can assist in laundry as a chore, I needed to simplify the process as much as possible.
I always purchase clothes as an outfit. (I try to pick neutral bottoms that can go with a variety of tops). Then I fold the coordinating pants/shorts/skirts inside of the top. This helps cut down on clothes storage space and time picking out clothes in the morning. All they have to do is pull out a pre-planned, matching outfit and put it on. Teenagers could be drastically different you have to find a system that will work for you and your family. This works really well for us, and when my husband has to dress the baby, it’s a no-brainer.
Also, if you have kids in similar sizes and same gender, buy undergarments and socks in sets they can separate. Instead of looking at every tag, for instance, I might buy only Minnie Mouse undergarments and socks for my six-year-old and My Little Pony for my 4-year-old. This makes tossing these items from dryer to basket fly by.
For my clothes and my husband’s clothes, I lay them in the basket ready for hangers or fold t-shirts right after I pull them out of the dryer. My husband gets socks that are all the same. I do not bother making pairs, they are all pairs. Life saver.
Tip #5: Enlist the kids to help.
This requires a little preparation as well. I have added designated each child bins to help separate items like socks, undergarments, school clothes and play clothes.
No one is just dumping clothes into a drawer because each item has a place. When it’s time to put the clothes away, everyone has a job. Since the youngest isn’t quite ready, I put away most of her items. My 4-year-old knows how to hang clothes and fold socks into each other. She does this and puts away her socks, pajamas. and undergarments. I still will help her put away outfits. My 6-year-old is expected to hang her dresses, fold and put away socks and undergarments. She also knows to put a stack of her folded outfits in the school clothes drawer and in the play clothes drawer. Delegating everyone to their own clothes basket means we can get everything put away in record time.
Laundry Routine Schedule
Day 1: Start the week off right by washing and drying a load. I start with darks because they seem to be my largest loads. Be sure your sorting system is set up to take you through the rest of the week.
Day 2: Wash and dry a load.
Day 3: Wash and dry a load. Easy, it’s the same as day two.
Day 4: Wash and dry a load. Don’t forget to sort!
Day 5: Official Folding/Hanging day. On this day I might have some sorting that wasn’t finished. I will do that, lay hanging items on the side of the basket and put the baskets in my children’s room.
Day 6: Adult clothes, towels, and linens. I take this day to hang all my shirts and put them away. Then I run loads of linens and put them away after each load. Today is also a day for ironing, stain treating for the up-coming week, or anything left over.
Day 7: Break day!
If you have more than one person helping with the washing and sorting, that is even better. With this free printable checklist, you could divide up the duties to make sure you or you helpers stay on task.
You can print it whatever size you choose. I have placed mine in a frame, but it would also work on a clipboard or inside a sheet protector. You can check off tasks and write in days with a dry erase marker and use it over and over.
All of this can seem like an overwhelming change to make all at once. And I know it has taken me some time, planning, and teaching to get everyone on board. I can say that my laundry monster is gone, and I hope he never comes back. Happy washing!