Laundry: some people love it; some (most) people hate it, but we all have to do it! However, there are ways to make to never-ending task of laundry easier!
1. Find a system that works for you.
There are many different systems available to help you keep laundry under control. You may need to try out a few systems until you find one that works for your family. And as your family and daily/weekly schedules change, your system may need to change. My system has changed MANY times throughout my life as a mom.
One system is to focus on laundry one day each week and to just do all the laundry at once, then don’t think about laundry until next week. If you choose this system you will need a place to store the dirty laundry until wash day…a place that doesn’t “take over” another place. You will also need to be able to completely finish (including putting everything away), otherwise this system is not working for you.
This system may not work for you if you have your own septic system; generally it is recommended that you try to spread laundry out throughout the week so as not to overwhelm your septic system. We do not use this system because the dirty laundry would overwhelm our bedroom, our septic system would not be working at its best and because I would feel stressed trying to get it all done and put away in one day. But, this system did work well for me when I was single and married without kids.
Another system is to start a load of laundry every evening: throw all laundry from that day into the washer in the evening, run the load during the night, transfer to the dryer in the morning and put away during the day.
If you wash everything on cold (so colors don’t bleed) and don’t have any clothes that need special care, this system may work for you. I choose to separate light-weight clothing from heavier clothes (jeans) and towels/linens from everything else.
However, during busy times of life I have been known to throw many things in together just so washing happens in a timely manner! This may be a great system for someone who hates laundry or who works outside of the home or is in a very busy, stressful time in life.
The system that is working for me right now, is to do one (or two) complete loads of laundry each day. I have three laundry baskets (each holds about one load of laundry). One basket is for towels and linens; these get washed on a HOT. One for light-weight clothes of any color; these get washed on COLD. The last basket is for jeans and other heavy-weight clothing; these get washed on COLD. When a basket is full, I do that load of wash.
2. Choose Easy-Care Clothing
Another way to simplify laundry is to choose clothing that is easy to wash and wear…machine washable and no ironing! If your daily life allows (and especially for kids), choose clothing made from fabrics that wash easily in the washing machine and are easy to dry in the dryer or air dry. Avoid clothing that needs to be ironed after each wash. If you lead a casual life, many button down shirts (like chambray or flannel or poplin) can avoid ironing if hung to dry. They won’t be as crisp as if you ironed them, but they won’t look wrinkled either! I rarely iron clothes…only for special occasions like weddings, funerals or special events, if I have a few extra minutes I might do a fast iron on some things before church. I’d like to try a garment steamer sometime…I think this would be a quick and easy way to get rid of a few wrinkles quickly and easily…and without an ironing board!
Having easy care clothing also limits the specialty laundry supplies that you needed. I have one laundry detergent that we use for everything. This was the same when we had babies and used cloth diapers…use the same laundry detergent for everything! Have one pre-treat that you use for everything. I use blue Dawn dish soap…it is the best that I have found! I do keep rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide on hand and occasionally pull them out for a specific stain (ink, blood). But Dawn will take care of most everything…especially grease, even old grease stains! I also keep a bleach pen on hand. I rarely use it and only after I have tried Dawn.
I do not use dryer sheets, besides turning your dryer lint into a fire hazard, they are not needed and just one more thing to have to buy repeatedly. I have wool dryer balls that work great! If you like the scenting of dryer sheets, put a couple drops of essential oil on the dryer balls or on a dry rag and toss it in the dryer with your clothes. By choosing a detergent that is more natural (one without whiteners and brighteners and enzymes that leave a coating on your fabrics) and using dryer balls, you will not have a problem with static.
3. Limit the Amount of Laundry
You CAN limit the amount of laundry you have by limiting the number of clothes you own. This works especially well for kids (who change clothes multiple times a day) and you can never be sure what is really clean and what is dirty. Limiting clothes also limits the total amount of laundry that can accumulate before you either need to 1) wear dirty clothes or 2) go buy more underwear.
4. Make Putting Away Easy.
With easy care clothing, the washing and drying is pretty easy to accomplish; it is the putting away that takes the most time! Here are a few tips to make this part of the laundry chore easier:
- Make sure there is enough space in closets and drawers…if everything is clean, there should still be 10-20% “free space”. This way it is easy to see everything and easy to put away things without squishing things in. This will also keep things looking neater and avoids unwanted wrinkles later.
- If you like to fold (or roll) then fold (or roll) as much as you can. If you like to hang, then hang as much as you can…don’t fight yourself!
- Let go of perfection. Does your underwear really need to be folded? Is it just as easy to access if it is thrown into a drawer in a pile? (If you like beautifully folded underwear all lined up in a drawer AND you have the time to do it, great! If it doesn’t bother you, don’t bother!)
- Let your kids put away their own clothes. This also requires letting go of perfection. Even young children (my youngest started at age 3) can put their own clothes away if the system is simple enough.
We have chosen to forego dressers for our kids and just use the space under their beds as their “dresser”. Each child has four plastic crates/bins under his/her bed: tops, bottoms, underwear/socks and pajamas. Each child gets to decide how neat and tidy each bin is; they can fold, roll or just toss. This works well for everyday clothes.
I choose to hang their nice dresses and dress clothes for them. This saves me so much time! As I sort through the clean clothes I just toss their things into their laundry buckets, and they are responsible for putting their own things away.
Those are the four steps I take to keep laundry simple for me. What is your biggest struggle with laundry? What one thing can you do today to make laundry more simple for you?