Schedules are great, but if your schedule (laundry schedule included) isn’t working, it’s time for a change.
Laundry has always been my scheduling weakness. I love loading the washer and dryer (and my kids fight over who gets to help push the wet clothes into the dryer and “push the button” to turn it on), but I hate folding the clothes. Putting them away is even worse than folding, and we often end up with laundry baskets in the most random places throughout our house. Does this sound like your house?
Over the years, I’ve read every how-to manual out there in hopes of finding some secret method to make my laundry magically disappear. Aside from throwing away clothes, I haven’t been able to find a magical solution, but I have found the following tips to be the most helpful.
Create a Laundry Schedule
Most laundry schedules seem to boil down to three methods. I’ve tried them all, and there are good and bad things about all of them. Give them a try and see which ones you prefer.
1. Do (From Start to Finish) a Load a Day
The FlyLady recommends doing a load of laundry every single day. Am I the only person who has a slight panic attack over that thought?
I’ve tried this method, and while it may seem annoying to always be doing laundry (it seems like you’ll never be done), it’s actually made the laundry seem more manageable. Every morning, I place a load in the washing machine after I fix my son’s breakfast, and then I transfer it to the dryer before lunchtime. I can then fold and put it away during the kids’ naps. Once your daily laundry is done (and folded and put away), you’re DONE for the day.
The trick with this method is follow-through. It’s so easy to forget the laundry in the washing machine, only to remember that I still need to put (wet) sheets on the bed at 10 p.m. Having set times (like lunch) helps to remind me to switch the clothes, but I still struggle.
At the end of the day, it’s much easier to put away one or two loads than it is to put away twelve, so creating (and following) a schedule is your best bet with this method. I finally broke down and added laundry to my planner, both on my daily schedule and on my weekly cleaning schedule.
2. “One Shot is All You Got”
If you live in an apartment or don’t have access to a washer and dryer, doing all of your laundry in one day may be your best option. Also, if you work outside the home, sometimes the laundry gets backed up and you do need to spend your Saturday doing nothing but laundry.
I’ve been there, and while devoting an entire day to laundry may not be the way you want to spend your time, at least you can breathe a sigh of relief when it’s done (and you have an entire week before you need to do it again). Also, I loved being able to do four loads at the same time and read a book while my laundry was humming away behind me in the laundromat.
While the thought of folding four batches of laundry on the grungy tables at the laundromat was a little disturbing, I invested in short, rectangular baskets and just quickly folded the clothes into the basket as I pulled them out of the dryer. Using the shorter baskets made it a little easier to sort the laundry as I folded it, like putting all the farmer’s clothes on one side of the basket and mine on the other. Then, when I returned home, laundry in tow, it was easier to put it away.
I’ve tried everything from doing all laundry in one day to spreading it out and doing one or two batches every day. In the end, I’ve settled on a hybrid of the two methods. I do all sheets on Monday, usually two loads, and every other day I try to do at least one load. I don’t always accomplish that, though, so the weekend is normally my “catch up” time.
My family produces 10-12 loads of laundry a week, so the thought of trying to do that all in one day is daunting. We’re trying to wear clothes more than once, but with a farmer-husband and two kids who love to play in the dirt, reducing our laundry is a work in progress.
Doing laundry in a certain order (sheets on Monday, light colors on Tuesday, etc.) and planning ahead has helped keep my sanity. This way, I’m not washing a load of darks immediately after doing a batch of bleach clothes. I wrote out my cleaning schedule and put a laminated copy in my planner so that I have one less thing to think about every day!
Streamline the Process
In addition to creating a schedule, I’ve also been trying to streamline my laundry process as much as possible. There’s no sense in spending more time than necessary on something dreadful!
1. Invest in a Laundry Sorter
I’m on my second laundry sorter (the first was a really flimsy, mesh contraption that only lasted a couple years). I love my new, sturdy sorter! It’s exactly big enough to hold three loads (one bin for whites, another for darks, and another for towels).
I also keep separate baskets in each of the kids’ rooms (for the kids’ rooms, I prefer to use tall baskets, which fit better in their closets). Since my son typically wears dark colors and my daughter normally wears lights, individual baskets work well. On the off chance that my son is wearing a white shirt (he loves to play in the dirt, so this is a rarity) or my daughter is wearing something dark, I can easily throw it in the other child’s basket. Eventually, once they get older and start sorting their own clothes, we’ll get another laundry sorter and hide it in the bathroom.
2. Keep an Extra Hamper (or Two) in the Laundry Room
I keep two hampers in the laundry room – one for random items that collect throughout the week, like dishcloths and towels, and another for the farmer’s super dirty farm clothes so that he doesn’t track them through the house. I love hard plastic, covered hampers because I can stack them to save space in my small laundry room. Also, the hampers are washable, so I can easily wipe them clean.
3. Keep Track of Your Socks (and Delicates)
I used to have such a hard time keeping track of our socks, especially patterned socks. I finally stopped buying fun socks, like the days of the week socks that my son wore when he was a baby or my favorite colored Gold Toe socks because it was such a problem to keep track of them. Heaven forbid if one yellow sock wore out before the other one! Instead, I try to buy multiples of the same socks (like three pairs of gray, three pairs of black, etc.) so that they’re easier to mix and match.
I also use lingerie bags to keep my delicates safe in the wash, and I even occasionally use them to wash clothing, like my daughter’s tights or some of my blouses that should be hand washed. After reading this tip on Living Well, Spending Less, I started using lingerie bags to wash socks. It’s been such a saving grace for keeping our socks together.
How big is your laundry monster? What tricks do you use to simplify your laundry process and keep the monster at bay?