Life with a family is busyyyyyyy. Sometimes, it seems like a never-ending cycle of getting everybody to school and work, running errands, kid’s activities, cooking dinner and supervising homework, and bedtimes (just to get up the next day and do it all over again). And one thing that never, ever seems to stop is our washing machine. Seriously, between my husband and myself and our kids, I used to feel like there were days that I could hardly keep up with the mountain of laundry– shirts, pants, towels from the kitchen and the bathroom, bibs. socks (soooo many socks) and all sorts of odds and ends.
I say “used to feel,” because I finally feel like I have a solid laundry schedule in place, and some great laundry hacks to get ahead and STAY ahead of the problem.
The key to making your laundry a breeze is to separate it appropriately, keep up with it, and set a laundry schedule. Sounds easy enough, right?
With just a few easy peasy changes, I am in charge of my laundry instead of it being in charge of me.
Just Keep Washing, Washing, Washing
Laundry is a constant battle. It seems like my kids are always changing their clothes, or spilling on the shirts and needing a change.
Instead of piling all this laundry into a basket and waiting till it gets full, I now immediately throw those “loose items” in the washing machine. I don’t start the wash, but putting clothes directly INTO the washing machine eliminates one step, and it helps prevent dirty clothes from ending up all over the house.
For the overflow (because of course there’s overflow), I keep an extra laundry basket in my laundry room (we have loved this one.) If it doesn’t immediately go in the washer, it goes in here.
If you have older kids, getting everybody on the family on board with the idea that dirty clothes don’t stay where you tossed them but get taken immediately to the laundry room can save you a ton of time and energy.
With some extra baskets in strategic places, I no longer have to roam the house grabbing every last dirty towel and smelly sock.
Stick to a Laundry Schedule
I’m not talking about having one set day to do all your laundry, but rather having a daily laundry schedule. Ok, stay with me because I’m sure the thought of doing laundry every day can seem daunting.
As your washer fills up, you’re going to do a little bit of laundry each or every couple of days instead of doing everything at once on one single designated laundry day. That way, you’re not spending a ton of time washing, drying, folding, putting away AND leaving all the other chores neglected.
Pick a consistent time to turn the washer on, when you know you’re likely to be home. This might be right before you get have lunch, or maybe as part of the clean-up after dinner.
Divide up your laundry by day of the week. For example, on Wednesday you might do a midweek load of bibs, towels, and whatever was thrown into the washing machine or needs an immediate wash. You wash and dry on Wednesday, but don’t fold and put it away until Thursday.
Then, on Friday you could choose to wash all kid’s clothes and dry them. Saturday you might put the kids clothes away, then wash adult clothes.
Sunday you fold the clothes from yesterday, and wash sheets. Anything that doesn’t get washed that day goes into your extra laundry basket.
By choosing a day and doing a little bit at a time, you can totally take charge of your laundry process. Instead of one big pile, you’ve divided the laundry up into little amounts that can quickly be folded and put away.
Already Messed Up The Laundry Schedule?
If you find yourself forgetting about the laundry (since it’s spread out over several days), there are a couple of things that can help.
First, when leaving the laundry in the dryer overnight, use the fluff setting the next day to make sure that the laundry stays wrinkle-free. Then fold it immediately.
Second, timers are your friend. Use an alarm or timer on your phone to remind you when to switch over to the dryer, or pull clothes out to fold them or put them away.
Remember, you’re not tackling ALL the laundry at once, just a load every day or two, and some folding and putting away every few days to keep up with it.
The Best Laundry Tip: Divide and Conquer
Let me help you by telling you a big laundry tip up front: You don’t have to separate clothes by colors! Go back and read that again.
For years I had half done loads of whites just sitting around, dirty, because I was waiting for enough whites to accumulate. One day I finally decided to be a “laundry rebel” and threw in my lights with my darks, and what do you know… the whites were still white. It was a miracle.
Now, I’m not saying you should wash a pearly white top with a $3 hot pink child’s shirt, because chances are high that that shirt may bleed. But if you have clothes you’ve already repeatedly washed, you likely are ok to wash them all together. Just make sure it’s on a cool setting.
I DO separate my clothing, but instead of darks and whites I combine all the adult clothes, all the children’s clothes, and do another load of delicates or shirts that I think WILL bleed.
Then I do each load on a different day according to my laundry schedule.
Laundry Tips and Tricks
- Have plenty of laundry baskets. I like to have a laundry basket in everyone’s room, one in the bathroom, plus two extra laundry baskets for the folded clothes. *It’s kind of like garbage cans; if you have enough laundry baskets lying around, people are more likely to use them!
- Clean out the lint trap regularly: Not only will your dryer work better and cut down on your drying time, but you’ll help to prevent a dangerous accumulation of lint in the lines.
- Air dry shirts that might possibly shrink. If you are tight on space these over the door air drying racks work great.
- Don’t waste time on folding shirts that will get hung up, instead just lay them out flat in a pile. You can even put the hangars in them, then lay them flat. This makes it really easy to hang up later.
- Have extra laundry baskets specific for your FOLDED clothes. I love these laundry baskets for that purpose.
Don’t Forget To Clean Your Washing Machine
Don’t forget to CLEAN your washer and dryer! Fill the washer using the highest load size, hottest water setting, and longest wash. Add a quart of white vinegar and a cup of baking soda. Let it sit for about an hour and rinse wash after.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve had your dryer vent cleaned out, it might be a good idea to have a company come clean them. Often companies that perform chimney cleanings and inspections also clean dryer vents.
You’re Now A Laundry Pro
With just a little planning ahead and a little washing each day, you can get ahead and stay ahead of your laundry.
It might take awhile to find the specific days of the week that work for you and your family, but it will make a huge difference in the time and energy you spend washing, drying and folding. And who doesn’t want a little more time and energy at the end of the day?