You can find Elise posting regularly on Instagram @thejoyfulmotherproject.
Ugh. Is there any other chore that conjures up feelings of riding on the perpetual carousel – around, and around and around, always moving, never making any progress toward an end?
Well, I may as well accept it. So long as the people are here to stay, so are the piles of laundry. In writing this article, I do not want to imply in any way that I have the laundry thing down pat. It’s quite the contrary. I have four daughters and a husband, and the laundry multiplies daily and I never feel like I’m on top of it.
Photo courtesy Flikr
But over the last few years, I’ve picked up some little hacks that have changed the way I look at laundry. These tricks have made laundry seem a little less overwhelming. It’s my hope that one of more of these ideas might help make your laundry load a little easier to manage, also.
Do Something Every Day
I’ve tried “Laundry Day.” I’ve tried breaking it all into 3 days, having a Washing Day, a Folding Day, and a Putting-Away Day. I have a hard time sticking to any of them. What happens when children get sick, or there school events that must be attended? Laundry falls by the way side. That’s what.
Instead, I’ve adopted the system of doing a little bit every day. My rule is simply this: do something about the laundry today. That’s it. If all I do is wash one load, even if it’s still sitting in the dryer (sometimes still the washer – oops) the next day, I count it a success. If all I do is fold one load (even if there are 3 other loads waiting in the wash room), that’s okay.
The secret is this: doing laundry isn’t so bad once you start.
It never takes as long or is as painful as I fear it will be. Once I start, I’m likely to look around to see what other laundry-related task I can do for a few minutes. It really doesn’t take much time out of my day to just do a little, and it’s an incredibly rewarding feeling to wash or put away a couple loads. It’s simple inertia – once I start (even to do something small), I’m likely to continue. And often I do. But sometimes I don’t. And that’s okay.
Just do something with your laundry today.
Stop Sorting Laundry by Color
Oh, I know. Some of you gasp. Washing darks together with lights?! It’s a crime against laundry. I used to combine my girls’ dirty clothes, sort them into colors like a good little laundress, and then wash and finally sort them back into the proper child’s pile as I folded.
Nowadays, this is what I do: I take the designated child’s laundry basket to the laundry room, dump their clothes – lights, darks, and everything in between – into the washer, set the temperature to cold and hit start. They get clean, I promise, even in cold water. The whites stay white, the darks stay dark, and the colors stay colorful. Trust me.
Eliminating the step of sorting lights from darks (especially when you have multiple children) saves so much time.
*Disclaimer: I still do sort lights from darks for my husband’s and my laundry. Our clothes are all going back to the same bedroom, after all.
*Another disclaimer: If there is a new item of dark laundry that is likely to bleed (like a new pair of dark denim jeans) I won’t put it in with the other laundry until it’s been through the wash a couple times. I just throw them in with my husband’s and my dark laundry.
Combine “Folding” and “Putting Away” Into the Same Step
I just discovered this secret recently. For years, I gathered load after load in the family room in front of the TV for a laundry-folding session. I got to watch a television show that I liked, so I looked forward to it. But the problem was, after they were all folded into their neat, organized little piles, I would put them back into their laundry baskets to wait for another time later on to put them away. But too often, they sat in their baskets for days, and we ended up pulling clean laundry from baskets instead of our drawers and closets.
I’ve since learned to save a lot of time and energy by combining the “folding” and “putting away” steps. Instead of dumping loads of laundry in front of the television, I take the load straight from the dryer to the room that it belongs in. (And remember, I no longer have to sort different children’s clothes apart from the others.) I plop down in front of their dresser with a bunch of hangers handy, and I fold the clothes and put them away straight into their drawers. I put the clothes that need to go into the closet on their hangers right away, and hang them up when I’m finished.
Do I miss the TV? Nope. I listen to podcasts or music while I fold, and I swear that the folding time is cut in half. And the final step of putting them away feels like it disappeared.
One more bonus hack:
I very rarely iron. I iron my husband’s white dress shirts, and an occasional dress or skirt, but outside of those, I use two tools far more often than my iron. One, the dryer. Put the wrinkled clothes back in on high heat with a wet rag for a few minutes. And two, Downy Wrinkle Release spray. Truly, this stuff has changed my laundry’s and my life!
I hope you’ve picked up on an idea or two that might work for you to help streamline your laundry routine. The one thing I’ve learned is that the saying “different strokes for different folks” certainly applies to laundry. What works for one person doesn’t work for someone else. I know people who LOVE laundry day! I’m not saying that my way is better than theirs. If you love laundry day, or have another system that works for you, fabulous! You have to find what works for you.
As a parting note, I can’t help but see the irony in this article. As I am writing this, my dryer is out of commission. Around and around and around it goes, and the clothes never get dry. I miss my dryer. The laundry is piling up, and I’m looking forward to this coming week when we can get it fixed, and can catch up.
Well, if you can ever get “caught up” on laundry, that is.
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Caroline Simmons says
Hi Elise! Love this post- I’d always thought laundry was a daunting task (even before kids- didn’t realize then how much easier it was then!) and my mom would tell me the same thing- do something every day. These tips in your post are definitely going to be implemented, thanks so much! Now if only I can figure out how the dishes are piling up so quickly!
Rebekah Purnel says
Love the great idea! I’m a DIY lover and was in need of a laundry hack. I was searching for the best idea to make one. Yours made me crazy to make it right now! In a hurry to make one like yours. Thanks for sharing such great idea! 🙂