Laundry. The necessary evil of every living human soul (excepting nudists).
I’ve heard that some people actually like doing laundry. It’s like their moment of zen.
The clean scents, the fluffy warm towels, the neat crisp lines of a perfect fold, and the satisfaction of a job well done.
I can see the hypothetical merits of that.
When you have multiple people in the home, though, laundry can quickly become overwhelming- especially when you are a perfectionist (ahem!) and are trying to get that perfect fold on every. single. item.
For the purposes of these tips, I will assume that most families fall into one of two camps with laundry. Either one person is doing all the laundry or each person is responsible for their own laundry to some degree.
Whichever camp you fall into, here are some tips and tricks to make it run smoothly and save you time.
18 Sanity-Saving Laundry Tips (+Free Drawer Labels for Kids)
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Camp 1: Everyone is responsible for their own laundry.
I am looking forward to becoming a member of this camp. My children will have to be older, and it will take a certain amount of training, but I think this is the best system for saving time and teaching children responsibility.
- Pre-sort clothes by family member. Each family member has a basket/hamper in a convenient location for their clothes that they wash/dry/fold/put away.
- Have one communal hamper for dirty towels and washcloths. Buy only white ones so they can all be washed together and bleached if needed. You can rotate who is responsible for these.
- Teach your kids that some items can be worn multiple times, depending on how messy or smelly they get. Jeans, Towels, Sweatshirts, Pajamas, etc. Sometimes they only need airing out or spot cleaned.
- Teach your kids (and yourself) to stop throwing perfectly clean clothes on the floor because they changed outfits for the zillionth time that day. If they are consistently unhappy with what they have to wear, maybe it’s time to purge the ol closet. Sell unwanted items and use the money toward buying new classic pieces that will be worn over and over.
- To avoid Laundry room pile-up, assign a day to each person to have access to the laundry facilities. If they go to school/work you could have them put in their load right when they get home, dry it after homework is complete, and fold/put away after dinner. Try not to assign them a day when they will have regular practices, games, rehearsals, etc.
- Remember, it is your job to raise children to be adults. (Preferably competent adults who don’t need the internet to teach them how to turn on a washing machine).
Camp 2: You are responsible for all the laundry,
(also great tips for those who take laundry to a do it yourself Laundromat one day a week.)
This is my camp. My husband works 50+ hours a week and my children are all under the age of 5. My oldest is now beginning to help as I reward her with stickers for her sticker chart and train her how to do it.
- Pre-sort clothes by how you will wash them per load by using dual/multiple hampers. I have a hamper for whites only, a hamper for my husband’s extra dirty/stinky work clothes, one laundry bag for my more delicate items, and two hampers for lights/darks. I have these spread throughout our home at convenient locations.
- Find a system that works for you. Some moms swear by the one load a day method, while others do it all in one go. I like to wash and dry everything in one day, then fold and put away the next. I really like this method because I don’t have to think about laundry for 5 whole days each week. (5 days of bliss!) Also, when you downsize the amount of clothing you are washing, the hampers need to be combined to make a full load, so this method just makes sense.
- I wash the light and dark colors together. I’ve never had a problem with colors running onto each other. If you are worried about running and fading, use cold water, turn garments inside out, and/or use a color catcher. Just be sure to always wash new clothes separately, especially reds and jeans. Polyester and jersey knits tend to not run (as the threads themselves are dyed as opposed to the garments) so if most of your laundry consists of these fabrics, you are probably safe.
- Don’t fold laundry on the floor with little babes and toddlers around. I used to wait until my littles napped to fold laundry, but now I like to use that time for things that require more concentration- like reading, or writing to you lovely folks. I have a large folding table that I pull out into the living room for folding day. It keeps my kids from jumping into sorted, or heaven forbid, freshly folded clothing.
- Sort the clean laundry by person, put one person’s clothing on the table, sort by type, fold it, put it in a hamper by type, and then put it away. Repeat. DO NOT FOLD EVERYTHING FOR EVERYBODY AT ONCE. Your motivation to put it all away will seriously be hindered. Doing one person’s at a time is way less intimidating.
- OR…Stop folding. Seriously. A day after folding my kids’ laundry and it looks like I didn’t fold it anyway. So instead of getting upset, I just channel my inner Elsa and let it go.
- Simplify towel duty by having all the bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths be white. You can wash them all together and bleach if necessary.
- Stop buying the fun socks. If everyone only has white or black socks, then it cuts down on sorting and missing sock incidents. You can differentiate siblings’ socks by toe/heel colors or shades.
- Teach your young children how to fold towels and washcloths. It is the simplest thing to fold and it is great practice for them. My 4 year old does a decent job of it. They are still a little wonky, but it gets done and I don’t have to do it.
- Have your young children play “delivery.” My 4 year old loves to push the laundry basket full of clothing to each room she needs to drop things off at. When she enters the room she yells “Delivery!” and makes a game of it.
- Use drawer labels. My 4 year old delivers not only the towels, but all of her clothes and her brother’s clothes. I created these labels for their drawers so she can be independent. She knows where everything goes, she can easily dress herself. And now that we have had the labels for awhile, even my 2-year-old can fetch himself a dry shirt or socks when he needs them.
The text is editable (so you can use different languages, or for those of you living across the pond who wouldn’t dare use a label reading “pants” on the drawer for trousers. 🙂
The images are black and white so you can leave them plain or let your kids color them.
You can print these out on colorful cardstock and tape them on with some cute washi tape, but these labels are also compatible with these avery sticker labels to make it easier.
The clothing labels are available in the subscribers only library. To gain access to all the free printables, including the drawer labels, and receive a weekly inspirational newsletter, subscribe here:
Check out these other time-saving clothing tips: