Easing Into a Laundry Routine: A Guest Post

Mine is a household that generates two tons of laundry virtually overnight. Thankfully, I like laundry. But, it can be difficult to stay on top of it no matter how much I enjoy it. That’s where having a routine can really bless you — and the rest of the family. Clean underwear is one of life’s bare necessities. Today, Lauren from Mama’s Laundry Talk has some great advice for getting into a laundry groove that works for you.


Photo source: Pottery Barn

I am asked lots of questions on stain removal and laundry room organization, but the laundry question that comes up the most is:

How do I get into an easy laundry routine?

Whether you are a mom that stays home during the day or one that works outside of the home, there are a few simple things that you can do to create a laundry routine that works for you.

1. Sort dirty laundry as you put it in the laundry hamper.
When you have just one hamper and all dirty clothes are thrown into it, you really have no idea when there is a full load to wash. It’s impossible to look at the hamper and determine when there is a full load of whites or towels. Spend a few dollars and buy either a) several laundry baskets or b) a laundry sorter. By automatically sorting your clothes as you place them in the hamper, you can easily see when you have a load that needs to be washed. You’ll save time and energy by combining these two laundry steps into one.

2. Have enough clothing for 6-7 days.
It’s a good idea to only have about 7 days worth of clothes – your drawers aren’t overloaded and you’re forced to wash them more often. With a fewer amount of clothes, laundry doesn’t have the opportunity to stay piled up somewhere for very long. It either has to be washed or it has to be put away. This idea is especially helpful with children’s clothing. My 7-day guide doesn’t include my children’s Sunday clothes or more special outfits.

3. Keep laundry sorted by person.
Assign a laundry basket and a day of the week to each child/family member. For example, Monday is Sam’s wash day. All of his clothes go in the washer at the same time. They are dried, folded and placed back in his basket for him to put away. Clean clothes aren’t strewn all over the house since all of Sam’s clothes are in the same load. This method helps reduce the stacks of clean clothes just lying around.

4. Write it in your schedule.
This is my best piece of advice. If you keep a to-do list or a calendar, write in how many loads you plan to do that day even if it’s only one load. If you use the method as described in #3, write in whose turn is it to have clothes washed. If it is written down on your calendar, you are much more likely to actually do it. When I write down my laundry to-do list, it makes me accountable for its completion.

What are your best tips for creating a laundry routine?

– Lauren Hill is the mama behind Mama’s Laundry Talk. Strangely enough, she loves all things laundry and enjoys helping others make their Laundry Lives easier. She is proud to be a wife, mama to 3 fantastic little people and a Child of God.

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Comments

  1. We’re a family of 4, 2 of us being teenage girls. That alone tells you a lot of laundry can be generated around here! I start laundry on Wednesday evening when I get home from work. The goal: be done by Friday night. That’s the only time I do it so the girls know that if they need something before laundry day, they’ll have to do it on their own and I don’t have to do laundry every single day. Works for me.

  2. I have a family of 5 and I try and do one load per day. Then the task isn’t quite as overwhelming and I get into a routine.

  3. It stays in the rooms until Tues and Fri (usually) at which point I pull it all out and sort it in the kitchen (Huge kitchen , small living room)and then begin running laundry. It takes all day with the teens helping me.

    My big secret is this: Fold it on the dining table. Then it doesn’t get left in my room. They HAVE to put their clothes away to eat dinner.

  4. We are a family of four, and I do a load a day, every day. I put it in first thing in the morning, move it over when I get a minute, and fold it after the little ones are in bed. Then it gets put up first thing in the morning when everyone is dressing anyway. So far, this has worked for us, but I am sure that will change when our newest family member makes his appearance in May!

  5. Its funny that everyone is different and they all have different things that work for them. I do laundry 2 days a week, Monday & Thursday. And I do everyones all together (I found we used too much water, soap, etc when everyone did their own). Everyone brings down their hamper and sorts it, then hampers go back upstairs. While schooling is going on, I am switching loads of laundry. In warm weather, it hangs on the clothesline, in the winter it hits the dryer. My 3 children still at home, have a day to help me, hang, sort, etc. On Fridays, the 3 of them take turns washing all the sheets: washing, drying, folding, putting away. They can all do laundry and know how to do it properly. Having this routine helps me stay out of the laundry room everyday.

  6. I have six children. The older teenagers do their own laundry completely. On Mondays, I wash mine, hub’s, and baby’s laundry; sometimes I fold as I go, sometimes I fold it when it’s all washed and dried. On Fridays, I wash the middle kids’ laundry. I sort it out of the dryer into their baskets, hanging shirts and folding dish towels as I go. They’re all in charge of folding their own and putting it away.

  7. I find my biggest hang up is having a load of laundry hanging out in the washer. If I can’t wake up in the morning, stumble downstairs and throw something in, the effectiveness of my laundry schedule just goes down the drain :)

    I have it on my daily schedule to start a load every morning before I get on this darn computer, but as it stands I’m on the computer and have about 6 loads of laundry waiting for me… maybe I just need a laundry day. Or not to totally loathe laundry quite so much.

    We are a family of 5 and I work 12 night shifts, so the nights i work and the following days are OUT as far as anything laundry is concerned!

  8. Thanks for the great tips. I’m going out to buy some more laundry hampers this week. I need all the help I can with establishing a laundry routine. Thanks again!!!

  9. I love each of your comments – such inspiration! And encouragement to keep on keepin’ on with my littles. I do the bulk of the laundry, but I can see with continued help they can start to take over parts of it little by little.

    Thanks for sharing your routines!

    -Lauren

  10. I keep up with it by delegating. My two teens have washed their own from start to finish for years. I am now training the first of my three little ones at nearly eight years old.

    Karen in TN

  11. Laundry is my worst nightmare! I’m not really sure why I have these feelings towards laundry other than being ADD myself. My husband usually helps with the laundry each week, by folind and putting away. On March 1, he will be leaving for 7-8 months training in the Florida National Guard, now I will be forced to do it all by myself.

    I’m not really sure where to start to insure the laundry doesn’t mount up to the ceiling. No, we have not utilized the 7 day method in the past….boys have far more outfits than that (sad I know).

    Any suggestions, are greatly appreciated. Oh, did I mention that I will be running our small business too.

    • @Glenda,

      March 1st? Okay you have a few days to get a plan in place. And that is what is going to save you. :)

      I’d start with getting rid of some clothes. I don’t know how old your boys are, but if you can delegate the bulk of that to them, I would. And by ‘get rid of’ I mean get them out of your house – Goodwill, give to another family, whatever – just out of your house.

      Next, I’d figure out what your sorting method is going to be. Baskets? A Laundry Sorter? Collapsible baskets? Then go buy them. It doesn’t have to be expensive…just get some type of sorting method in mind.

      Then determine *where* you are going to have all sorted dirty clothes go: master closet, laundry room floor, etc. Then go put your baskets/sorters in there. Make sure to tell your boys the new dirty laundry home.

      Finally, ask yourself these questions and go from there: http://www.mamaslaundrytalk.com/2010/02/16/how-to-start-a-laundry-routine/

      Feel free to ask questions as they come up! :)

      You can do this!

      -Lauren

  12. Great advice!! Well, except for the whole 7 days worth of clothes idea. Works great for my boys but um, me? Well… no… hehehe. But, the rest is totally doable! Thanks for the tips!

  13. I’ve found that simply not having too many clothes is my biggest time saver when it comes to laundry! I can’t get too behind because we’d all be running around naked =)

    That said, I generally do one load a day and a few extras on Saturdays for linens. Our laundry room has a terrible set up, so I find it’s better not to let laundry pile up too long. I start a load when I get up in the morning, switch it before we start school and fold while the kids are doing their silent reading.

  14. I started a laundry routine in January and it has been wonderful in helping me stay on top of everything. There are only 3 of us so we may not have as much laundry as others.
    Mondays-no laundry (if we go camping this is the day I wash all the camping stuff)
    Tuesdays-my sons clothes
    Wednesdays-darks and delicates
    Thursdays-whites
    Fridays-sheets and towels
    Sat.-none
    Sundays-Hubby’s work uniforms (sometimes we do these on Sat. if we have a busy sunday planned)

  15. I do 2 loads a day:-)

  16. Sherri Remington says:

    My kids put all their dirty clothes (and we do too) in the washer every morning. I wash everything together except for things with very specific instructions. I wash one load of clothes every day, fold them and place them in the children’s buckets with their name on it. I place the buckets at the foot of the stairs so they HAVE to see it when they make their way up. After school, everyone puts up their daily laundry and we repeat the routine the next day. I wash all the towels on Mondays and sheets on Tuesdays. Other than that, we never get behind on laundry and the kids can always wear that “favorite” shirt they want to wear so often!

  17. I had the kids wash their own clothes on assigned days,even when they had sports and jobs.Everyone of them told me they don’t have the mountains of laundry because they were taught that no matter how busy their lives was laundry was to be done. Glad it worked for them because the 4 girls have very large families and the boys both work two jobs.Right now hubby or I do a load a day, usually mixed items.

  18. We don’t sort our clothes – we just wash them all on cold. I usually pick two days during the week (usually Mondays and Thursdays) to do laundry and I do 2-4 loads each day. We do the kids’ stuff in one load (or two if we’re doing bedding – once a week) and our stuff in another. Towels get done once a week and our bedding about once a month.

  19. It doesn’t always work… but in theory my kids (13, 15) each have a day where they put on a load of whatever they have the most of (lights or darks), and fill the load to full with the same (lights or darks) from the sorter. Then, they put their remaining items into the sorter. The sorter has three labeled compartments–lights, darks, and the center for baseball items that require special handling. I wash mine and DH, plus whatever remains in the sorter. The 18 year old has done his own for years. Poorly I might add, grey colored whites, and wrinkled… but that’s his choice to make, and somehow he still manages to go out the door looking good.

  20. An organized laundry room can make the chore easier. Every person needs to create a laundry plan suitable for their family size, needs, lifestyle and size of laundry room. You need a plan to sort, wash, dry, fold, put away and iron. If you don’t cover one area, the system won’t run efficiently.

    I adapted a system my Mom began when her six kids were at home. I implemented it when my six were at home, with great success. It combines Mommy effort with children’s efforts.

    http://hometeachedmommamindy.blogspot.com/search/label/organizing%20a%20laundry%20room

    True confessions, though, I LOVE doing laundry. But, I think some of the ideas listed in the above blog and the awesome comments could help some of you non-laundry lovers learn to not dread the task quite so much!

  21. I do not like to do the laundry, but I have to admit having a routine helps me with my attitude about it. Here at our house we have 6 people which equals a lot of laundry. Add to it that many of my children participate in some sort of physical activity. That in turn,brings in more laundry. I do laundry 4 days a week. I do not, however, do everyone’s laundry. When my children turn 9 they know that they are responsible for their own laundry. This includes sheets and blankets. My children start helping with the laundry by age 2. My youngest, at 2, knows how to carry up his clothes to his dresser. As well as matching his socks. Here is what our schedule looks like:
    Monday = my daughter
    Tuesday = me
    Wednesday= my husband
    Thursday = towels, sheets, misc.
    Friday = my oldest son (does his own)
    Saturday = second son (does his own)

  22. This system has been working for me
    http://momsinneedofmercy.blogspot.com/2009/10/keeping-up-with-laundry.html
    As I have gotten better about disciplining myself to put laundry away right away, I can run more loads through back-to-back. I just have to discipline myself to put them away as I’m doing the next load.

  23. What really gets me is the putting it away. I hope that changes for the better as the kids get older and can help out, but for now laundry for 4 people is a lot to put away. I hate it. As soon as I’m done, I have to start all over again. Most unrewarding chore, in my opinion!

    • I also have a family of 4 and laundry gets put away before bed every night. I do one load of laundry probably every other day and we use a hanging rack for a lot of it so it goes into the clean clothes baskets whenever it’s dry. I have two baskets for clean clothes on top of my washer and dryer; one for downstairs things and one for upstairs. I bring my toddlers’ clothes with me as I walk them upstairs for bathtime and I take 5 minutes after bathtime to teach them how to sort into the drawer bins they are currently using. I bought the low bins for the purpose of teaching them to sort their own clothes so they will know where to get them to dress themselves eventually. My 2 1/2 year old already gets the hang of it and works at her pile while I teach my 1 1/2 year old. My husband usually puts away the downstairs stuff sometime after dinner but before bed. If he is doing baby bathtime and bedtime then I do the downstairs laundry that night. I don’t feel overwhelmed because it’s not a lot since it’s every night and I know that they are learning the steps in caring for their own clothes and helping out.

  24. The worst part of laundry for me is the folding and putting away. I can’t find the time during the week to put it all away. So I purchased a rubbermaid 4 tierd shelf system. Each of the family members has their own shelf and I fold the laundry and immediatly put it on the shelves (we each have our own basket on the shelves for socks and unmentionables). That way throughout the week everyone knows where their items are if they need them. By the end of the week the shelves are full and it’s time to put things away. Sunday afternoon I empty the shelves and put everything away then the shelves are empty and ready for the next week’s laundry. I also have over the door hanger systems on my laundry doors to hang things up throughout the week.

  25. My general routine is towels on Monday, sheets every other Wed., a load or two of clothes on Tues and Friday (and maybe one more day.)

    I know that things would be easier if we had less clothes but my kids (esp. my oldest daughter) can be SO hard on her clothes in terms of stains. I don’t want to end up having to buy more clothes when she ruins something b/c I got rid of excess ones. We get lots of hand me downs and it can seem like a part time job just sorting clothes around here that are coming and going. (I have 4 kids.) It saves us a lot of money but it overwhelms me at times. Any suggestions?

    • @Mandi,

      We are the blessed recipients of many hand-me-downs too. And while it is a HUGE blessing to us (our clothing budget is practically nothing), it is really time consuming.

      In the beginning of receiving hand me downs, I kept most everything. Now I am pretty ruthless-I give to Goodwill anything that has stains or is just random. Like a random pair of shorts that don’t match anything.

      But hand me downs are tricky. They’ll consume your drawers if you aren’t careful! And then that adds to the whole laundry routine… :)

      If you decide to give items away that you don’t want or need, just make sure the giver doesn’t want them back! This has happened to me before, and it was awkward to say the least….

      :)

      -Lauren

  26. I posted about how I conquered the laundry mountain (part 1 and part 2):

    http://thetiethatbindsus.com/?s=laundry

    We have to do two loads of laundry a day and so far we wash before breakfast, switch the load and start another at lunch, switch the last load after our schoolwork. Then we fold in the afternoon and put away before dinner.

  27. I cycle the wash each morning before work. Yesterday’s load in the washer goes in the dryer; yesterday’s load in the dryer goes in the basket; and a new load goes in the washer. I fold everything and take the basket up to the bedrooms level. The clothes are put away in drawers at night when we’re picking out clothes for the next day. There’s usually an extra load of sheets or winter coats on the weekend, but I’m only overwhelmed by the laundry if I miss a day or two of my routine. We have a sorting bin that my husband made in the laundry room – each hamper-load that goes down gets sorted right away.

  28. There’s 6 of us so laundry piles up fast. Especially when my 2 girls go thru their closet & drawers, changing clothes several times a day. Ugh!

    Our routine is fairly straight-forward. Mondays & Thursday. The kids have the job of sorting the dirty laundry from our two hampers. They take the hampers to the mud room & sort everything by shirts/dresses, shorts/pants/underwear/socks, towels, and whites. Actually, there is always a whites hamper in the mudroom for the kitchen towels, dining room napkins, and floor-drying towels. Sheets & blankets I do either on Fridays or on an as-needed basis. It’s way too much to add this into a regular laundry day.

    The kids also have the job of changing loads, folding, hanging, & putting most of the laundry away.

    It’s not that I hate laundry, but it’s like I always tell them, I already know how to do laundry and don’t need any further practice.

  29. Frances says:

    In my house, we wash most things kids clothes together. We have three children and each of them get their laundry sorted after it is washed and it is their responsibility to fold it, hang it up and put it away. They also fold all the towels in the house. We have to do more than one load of laundry a day to keep up, so I am interested in the ‘put everything in the same load’ approach. Also, shout color catchers are a lifesaver in this house when clothes have to be washed on warm due to being extra dirty! :)

  30. We just streamlined the laundry a bit by getting rid of hampers in my children’s rooms. I have 3 kids (10, 7, and 3). We are also blessed to have a 2nd floor laundry room. The children are responsible for sorting their dirty clothes in the laundry room every night. With one central pile (well, 3 actually -darks, lights and brights) I can easily see which load is needing my attention. My husband and I sort into a divided hamper in our room and I will add our clothes in when I am running laundry. I do not have “set” days, but in my schedule, I tend to do laundry on Tuesdays and Thursdays…and then a little bit here and there. When clothes come out of the dryer they get folded and sorted into piles by recepient. Socks go into a bin – the “sock graveyard” to get dealt with later on. Often times my 10 year old will ask to watch TV in my room (because her brothers are watching something she doesn’t like downstairs) and the “price” to do that is to deal with the “sock graveyard” – matching and sorting. My 10 year old is responsible for putting away her own clothes. My sticking point with my routine is getting the clothes back in the closets of my 3 and 7 year olds. There have been plenty of times that we pick clothes from the clean piles on the counter of the laundry room. Not ideal, but since it is upstairs, not the worst either. Sheets and towels get washed every other Tuesday when the house is cleaned. Other towels (swimming towels, kitchen towels, washcloths, etc.) get their own spot on the laundry room floor and I will throw those in when I get a substantial pile at night before going to bed.
    I don’t like washing clothes every day, so there are some weeks that the piles do get a bit high and I may end up washing 3 loads in a day, but usually I do 1-2 loads two times a week.

  31. Wach of us have our own way of making it work. These are wonderful ideas. We do about 2-3 loads a day ,if I can get to it, for our family of 8. My boys use their shirts as napkins so they don’t last long. It drives me crazy. So the laundry piles up. I also have one child who doesn’t like to fold his PJ’s & put them away for the next night. He just tosses them in the dirty pile. UGH!

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