Don’t think you need a laundry routine? Tell me if this sounds familiar….
A Laundry “Routine”
You have a hamper. You also have people.
All the people throw all the things in the hamper. Or maybe just on the floor around the hamper. Now the hamper is full. Overflowing.
Then, one person (probably you), needs to lug this mountain to the laundry room. There, you sort through the mountain, piece by piece. Dark colors here, light colors there, towels over here, delicates there, whites back here.
A load goes into the wash, then into the dryer. Then another load into the wash, then the dryer. Then another. Then another.
If you’re lucky, you stay committed to the task and you keep going, if you’re unlucky you let a load sit for a bit too long and you need to run it all over again.
Did you keep up with your folding during this marathon? No? When the rest of the family is in bed, you sit down for a folding marathon and a few hours later there are [folded] clothes all over the room in piles. Now, you deliver the piles to each of other the other people’s rooms and either leave them on the bed or put them away where they go. Back and forth, back and forth, until all the piles are in the proper place.
I’m exhausted just writing about it.
A Better Laundry Routine
But there’s a better, simpler way. It doesn’t include mountains of laundry or relay races to and from bedrooms.
A Laundry Basket Per Person
To get started, you’ll need one laundry basket for every person in your house. Find a spot in their room for the basket — the closet is usually good. Loosely monitor the basket throughout the week—just glance, really. Every day (or less often for fewer people) choose one person’s basket that’s full or almost full. If you think you’d do better with a more strict laundry schedule, assign one day per person.
Here’s where it gets exciting… Dump all the clothing from the laundry basket into the washing machine. Yes, I said ALL. Even the whites. Even jeans. Set the load and walk away. An hour or so later, transfer it to the dryer and sit down with a good book (ha!)
Folding made Simple
Once the clothes are dry, fold them right away. If you’re unable to fold them promptly, turn the dryer back on for about 5 minutes and fold them after this (do this as many times as you need, but DO NOT GO TO SLEEP WITH THOSE CLOTHES IN THE DRYER because then you’ll get behind tomorrow).
As you pull items out of the dryer, toss socks and undies into the laundry basket.
Drape clothing that needs to be hung over the side of the laundry basket.
Next, fold each item as it comes out of the dryer and pile it with like items. Pajamas get put in a pile together, t-shirts get piled together, etc. When you’re finished folding, you will have a pile of t-shirts, a pile of sweatpants, a pile of jeans, a pile of leggings…
Why spend extra time piling the same kind of clothing together? Because it makes putting the laundry away quick and simple, as long as your dresser drawers are organized.
Return to Basket
Once the piles are set, place them in the basket, maintaining the piles. Either lay things that get hung up over the edge of the laundry basket or hang them up immediately if you have hangers and a spot to hang things in your laundry area.
Deliver to Bedrooms
Now, pick up the neatly sorted laundry and deliver it to wherever it belongs. If the owner of the clothing is over 6 years old, leave the basket for them to empty on their own, properly. This SHOULD be quick and simple because all the clothing is pre-sorted with like items together, so all they need to do is grab a mini-pile and deposit it in the proper location (exception: if you don’t have proper locations for these items, your child will have a hard time being successful). Kids should match and fold their socks (or not, who really cares what it looks like as long as they’re in the right spot) and underwear (again, or not.).
WARNING: Whining may accompany this task if this is the first (several) time(s) you’re asking them to do this—believe me, they CAN do it. Stick to your guns. The whining will eventually stop if they know you mean business, and your life will get a little simpler. If you cave because of the whining, you’ll be doing their laundry for the rest of their lives.
BONUS: If your child is 10 or older, they can do this entire process—start to finish—on their own — plus a ton of other legitimately helpful chores! You’ll need to teach them how to use the washer and how to set the proper settings and probably how to fold if this isn’t something they’ve helped with before, but they are capable!
Laundry Routine Questions…
What if my child is younger than 6?
What about white clothing?
The adults in our home have two shared laundry baskets– one for whites and one for colors. Those get washed separately.
I do not wash children’s whites separately because in my experience, 1) kids don’t have many whites. 2) Colors rarely bleed after they’ve been washed once. 3) If something white gets ruined, it was probably only a matter of time before it was going to be stained in some other way. 4) I don’t buy my kids white clothing (except for baseball pants… who decided THAT was a good idea?)
What about jeans?
Same load as everything else.
What about special detergent needs?
What if my child won’t put his/her clothes away?
Wellllllll, this is where parenting comes in. Chores are a regular part of my children’s lives, and they have been since they were little, so there’s not too much resistance anymore. If you’re just getting started, ease into it, but maintain your expectations and resist the whining.
How about uniforms?
After any event needing a uniform, have the person throw their uniform directly into the wash as soon as they take it off (WARNING: streaking may occur). Since you’re doing a load of laundry every day, the uniform will be cleaned the day after they wear it. It doesn’t get much quicker (or simpler) than that.
Your New Laundry Routine
I’ve been using this laundry routine for years, and I can’t imagine doing it any other way. See if this laundry routine works for you. Give it a week or two and let me know what you think!
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