Of all the chores I have to do each week, the most despised is laundry. Prior to coming up with a system to make laundry easier, I would pretty much just turn a blind eye to the mountains of clothing overtaking my home.
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It wasn’t so much putting it in the washer – that’s easy enough. Getting it in the dryer – ehh, yeah I could do that 90% of the time. Fold it? Now we’re stepping into uncharted territory and put it away? Ha! Okay, now that’s just crazy.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I went through the typical nesting stage and one of my goals before she was born was to have all of the laundry in the house done. I literally wanted every single article of clothing cleaned and put away, save for what was on our bodies (and even then I was tempted to wash those…)
Eighteen hours before my daughter made her quick entrance into the world, the laundry was done. Silly me thought it would stay that way – surely I could juggle a newborn, a 16-month old, and keep a clean house, right?
I’m sure this comes as a huge surprise to you, but I was wrong – the laundry once again quickly piled up among the dirty dishes and takeout containers. Fast forward fifteen months and the dishes are done, dinner is (usually) cooked at home, but the laundry was STILL the bane of my existence. I considered buying a Wine Rack so I could at least have a little fun while tackling the laundry, but I’m still nursing and wasn’t sure one glass of wine would be enough to take the edge off putting laundry away – yes, I hate it that much.
After a frustrating morning of not being able to find any t-shirts for my toddler, I knew enough was enough; I’m great at developing efficiency strategies and it was time to sit down and find a way to make doing laundry quicker and easier. Never again would my children be threatened by a potential avalanche from the clean-but-unfolded mountain of laundry!
Step 1 – After you take something off, make sure it is not turned inside out.
This takes all of two seconds if you do each time you undress versus the seemingly hour long task of doing it all as you fold the clothing once it’s been cleaned. And if someone can’t get in the habit of doing this, then fold it anyway and let him/her fix it prior to putting it on. The world won’t end, I promise.
Step 2 – Have ONE central location for laundry.
I thought it would be easier to have a bunch of hampers in each place we undress: the bathrooms, the bedrooms, the kids playroom (which is where their diapers are changed), etc. When it came to do laundry, though, there were so many places from which to gather it up and instead of one bag full of dirty clothing, I then had six or seven bags! Having your family bring their dirty clothes to one set of hampers isn’t a hard habit to form and it’s well worth it when it comes to getting laundry done quickly. You can also invest in a stair-organizer if you have a multi-level home and find it difficult to have only one set of hampers for the entire house.
Step 3 – Sort the clothes based on who they belong to.
We have this fantastic hamper that makes this task a snap – each person has his/her own bag and then there’s a smaller hamper that we toss towels and linens in. I even stapled laminated squares of colored paper so that my toddlers can start helping by knowing Henry’s clothes go in the green square, Mommy’s go in the yellow heart, etc. It’s never too early to get kids started on helping with chores and it also helps them better learn their shapes/colors.
Step 4 – Skip hand-washing when you can.
I never hand-wash my clothes. Ever. I try to avoid buying clothing that requires such work, but for my more delicate things I use either a Bra Baby or just a mesh laundry bag. The mesh laundry bag works especially great, I just clip it to the side of my hamper and toss my delicates in there as needed. It’s also a nice tool to use when it comes to socks – give each person his/her own bag to put socks in and you’ll no longer have to spend time sorting or matching up socks!
Step 4 – Get it on the schedule!
As you may have seen on my chore chart, I now only do laundry twice per week: one day for the parents, one day for the kids. By spacing it out like this, it doesn’t feel quite so overwhelming and it ensures I get it done in a timely manner. So find what works for you and schedule it, rather than force it, into your week.
Step 5 – Fold everything as it comes out of the dryer.
With everything already sorted by who it belongs to, if you fold it as it comes out of the dryer, you can easily take it right to where it belongs and put it all away. This is much easier than taking three hours to fold, sort, and put away ten loads of laundry at once. Hate folding? Hang it all instead! I seriously didn’t own a dresser for almost ten years because I just hung everything up. Yeah, I hate folding that much.
Step 6 – Multitask!
Guess what I did as I pulled clothes out of the dryer and folded them? Wrote this post using voice-to-text! My laundry days are also my running days, so my husband knows that when I get home, I sprint down to the basement to toss clothes in and then I’m out the door for a jog. When I get back, I toss the clothes in the dryer and then stretch/shower.
Laundry will probably never be fun for me, but since implementing this new program, it’s definitely not my nemesis anymore. And once my kids are older, they will definitely be helping more with the laundry (like my friend Gloria talks about over at Juggling Mother!)