How to Do The Laundry So it Doesn’t Rule Your Life by Julie DeNeen

Laundry the fast and easy way for those who don’t have time

As a mother of three in a 1200 square foot home, laundry is a monster that I continually must keep from taking over. If you are like me, I get easily frustrated by the vastly different instructions needed for a particular fabric or stain. I am all about the “good enough” housecleaning, and laundry is no exception. If it won’t be mentioned in my eulogy, it shouldn’t take over my day. Here are the things I’ve learned to keep the laundry from piling up on me.

Use the hamper effectively.
If you live in a larger home with extra space, use hampers to do the preliminary sorting work for you. Rather than having one giant hamper outside of the bedrooms, put several in a row and label them- whites, colors, sheets and towels. Some people prefer to have a hamper in each bedroom and bathroom, but I find that just makes more work for the person doing the majority of the laundry. Will it help your motivation to have to go through each room collecting baskets? I didn’t think so. Kids can easily walk the couple of steps it takes throw a shirt in the hallway hamper.

Teach family members the art of undressing.
It sounds silly, but if you do the work ahead of time, you’ll save yourself some trouble. Show kids how to undress without turning their clothes into a balled up mess. If you are type A and absolutely need clothes to be right side out, go ahead and teach that too. For me, I could care less. It gets washed no matter which way the Spongebob character is facing. Explain to your kids that socks need to be shaken out, and pockets emptied. If you can instill these habits early, you will not have to go through fixing each piece of clothing before it goes in the wash.

If you do these two small things, you will have saved yourself valuable time sorting clothes, and checking pockets for leftover candy bars and money.

Do laundry everyday

Trust me, I’ve tried to do the “laundry once a week” plan. It doesn’t work unless you like to spend hours and hours playing with clothes. So in order to combat that horrible feeling in your stomach when your hamper isn’t visible under the pile of smelly laundry, just do it every day. The goal is to wash, dry, fold, and put away at least one load a day.

Make it part of your routine
Whether it is morning or night doesn’t really matter, just pick a time of day to do it and stick to it. For me, I grab a hamper in the morning and bring it downstairs. I throw it in the wash before breakfast, and put it in the dryer at lunch. If you are a working parent, consider throwing a load in after work at night before dinner, and drying it while you’re watching Grey’s Anatomy.

Pick a spot for folding
If you have a laundry room that can afford a shelf that stays empty and available for folding, great. If not, consider using your bed, table, or even an empty shelf on a bookcase. Once that load is dry, fold it. Just do it. Even clearing off the dryer top can be a useful place to fold clothes. It avoids the hassle of rounding up a laundry basket. Just take it out of the dryer and begin.

If you are like me and feel like folding is the biggest waste of time ever, just have your kids pick out their things and stuff them in their drawers. After all, even when I do fold their clothes, the clothes end up unfolded and crinkled in a day or two. Is it really all that important to have micro-organized drawers, or is it enough to have ample clean clothes all in one spot? See what I mean? Sometimes it’s all about good enough.

Dealing with the darn socks!

This was the worst part of laundry for me. Folding only took minutes, but matching up socks was a form of torture. So I gave up. My system now is simple, easy, and genius. I have a bench in my downstairs near the shoe area. The seat opens up to reveal a bench. I put all of the socks in that bench. Just throw them all in together. I can hear June Cleaver gasping. When the kids come running down the stairs to go to school, their socks are right near the shoes. They grab two and go.

Now this does mean that once in awhile (or more), my kids have mismatching socks. But do I care? Nope. Again, not something that is going to be on a eulogy. You can minimize this by purchasing one brand of type of sock for each kid. My son has white and black Hanes socks, my girls have a different brand. This helps them to spot their socks quickly.

I find this helps get the kids off to school more quickly because they aren’t running back upstairs to grab the socks they forgot when coming down the stairs the first time.

Stains, stains, stains

No one ever warned me that doing laundry would require a degree in chemistry. I am constantly forgetting what magic formula works on grass verses tomato sauce. Some simple solutions to fighting stains.

Add a “stain” hamper
Again, this may require a little education, but I promise it’ll be worth it. Teach your kids the difference between dirty clothes and stained ones. Give them a list of the top five types of stains they are likely to have: tomato-based, grass, ink, grease, and chocolate. Inform them that if they get a stain, the clothing needs to go in the special “stain” hamper. That way, when you are doing laundry- you don’t need to rummage through each piece of clothing to look for stains. The work is done for you. The regular hampers just need a cup of detergent, and the stain hamper requires spot treatment on each article of clothing.

Post a chart
Print one of those handy-dandy stain removal charts off the Internet and tape it to the wall. Go to the store and purchase the common items used to treat stains and create a little stain removal bucket in your laundry room. This way, you’ll be prepared.

I can’t promise perfect…

My laundry methods are far from perfect. Things can still be wrinkled and drawers are not organized by pattern. There is a lot to be said though for keeping the main thing the main thing. Life is too busy and precious to be obsessed with laundry. I refuse to ever be the person who says no to a party or an event because I have to stay home and do laundry.

I hope these tips have been helpful. Happy laundering!

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