How I Made Laundry Easy on Myself

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In the life of Mom, dirty clothes are inevitable. Believe it or not, laundry is one of my favorite jobs, particularly now that I’ve made it easy on myself! These tricks can help YOU transform your laundry situation as well.

Laundry is an unavoidable job, unless you’re Martha Stewart who has a decidedly gorgeous laundry room, but who probably doesn’t need to actually do her own laundry. The rest of us do do the laundry, and in some instances it can be a drudge.

After years of struggling to get a handle on the mountain of dirty clothes created by eight people, I finally came up with some systems that have made laundry not only easy, but actually kinda fun!

It’s pretty much my favorite household job. EVER.

This system has been in place now since 2013 when I got so fed up with how our laundry system was failing that I dashed off a lengthy email to my husband — in the middle of his work day! — to communicate my new SOP (standard operating procedure). What was once a hope and dream has actually become a standard operating procedure. Imagine that!

While we sometimes get lax in our system, it’s designed in a way that makes it easy to catch up. It’s worked for over five years now; I’m willing to bet it will work for you, too!

I know your life isn’t exactly like mine — and neither is your laundry room — but I hope these make-laundry-easy strategies will help you think through your own laundry situation and find ways to troubleshoot it so that it’s easy for you, too.

How I Made Laundry Easy on Myself

1. The laundry room is for one purpose only: cleaning.

I was tired of the laundry room becoming this giant holding tank for dirty clothes and linens. It was in a state of chaos 24/7, and I felt like I was always behind.

The change? Dirty laundry does not get stored in the laundry room. It gets stored in bedrooms and bathrooms until someone is ready to wash it.

It took repeating myself 5,432,765 times, but it stuck. Mostly. (I still remind people from time to time.)

Each of the kids’ rooms has a hamper as does each bathroom. If it belongs to you, it goes in your hamper, not the laundry room. Bring it to the laundry room only when you’re ready to wash it.

2. We don’t sort whites and darks.

My mother just about died when I announced this, but I don’t sort colors from whites. I haven’t sorted for years. And guess what? We have not had any white underwear or socks turn pink, so I’m not worrying about it!

Since we don’t sort colors, each bedroom’s tenants can do their week’s wash in one load instead of three. Not only does this save time and effort, but we save on water and soap as well.

How I Made Laundry Easy | Life as Mom

3. I don’t sort the kids’ clothes.

Instead of doing combined family loads — I used to do one load a day of everyone’s clothes mixed up — we do loads based on person or bedroom occupants. No longer do I have a huge mountain of dirty clothes to sort into whites, darks, and colors. Nor do I have a huge mountain of clean clothes to fold and sort for each person.

Each bedroom (with two occupants each) has one or two hampers. These clothes usually get washed together and then the pair in each bedroom deal with the folding and sorting.

Sorting within a bedroom is much easier than sorting for the whole household!

4. I don’t wash the kids’ laundry.

The kids do their own laundry. I’m not sure how young you can test this, but we started the process when the girls were 6 and 4. They needed a chair to reach into the washing machine, but they were able to do it. Amen, hallelujah.

I took a Sharpie and drew arrows on the machines to show them what buttons to push. It’s been a learning process, sure, but CAN I TELL YOU HOW FREEING IT IS?! Totally worth defacing my household appliances.

Teaching your children to do their own laundry is a game changer.

How I Made Laundry Easy | Life as Mom

5. I buy detergent pods or strips.

Once the kids started doing the laundry, I realized that we needed to step away from the liquid or powder detergent. There was just too much mess and too much detergent getting wasted!

Pro tip: those cups that come with detergent hold more than you need! The manufacturer is counting on you getting lazy and forgetting to measure properly. Don’t get bamboozled!

For awhile I used Dizolve strips, but planning ahead for shipping from Canada was a pain. I now buy All Clear Mighty Pacs from Amazon via Subscribe and Save. I never run out of laundry soap.

While the pre-measured laundry detergent may be a bit more expensive, it’s probably a wash (punny?). The kids were either spilling so much of the liquid or pouring too much. This way, there’s virtually no mess in the laundry room.

6. I made a washing schedule.

Instead of everyone jockeying for position in the laundry room, I created a schedule and wrote it across the front of the washing machine. Currently our schedule looks like this:

  • Monday: parents
  • Tuesday: FishBoys13 and 15
  • Wednesday: emergency
  • Thursday: FishBoys 17 and 20
  • Friday: sheets and towels
  • Saturday: FishChicks9 and 11
  • Sunday: emergency

Every person or pair of people has a day, as do the beds and bathrooms. I leave Wednesdays and Sundays open for whoever missed their day or if we have a back up for some reason. It does happen.

In the beginning this system took some reinforcement and getting used to, but it’s been totally worth it!

How I Made the Laundry Easy on Myself | Life as Mom

But what if you only have littles?!

I’ve been thinking about this question: what if you don’t have big kids who can do their own laundry? In other words, what would I have done 14 years ago when everyone was six and under?

  • I’d still keep dirty clothes in the bedroom hampers and not in the laundry area.
  • I still wouldn’t sort, unless it was a bunch of white onesies that needed bleach after too many blow-outs.
  • I’d keep each bedroom’s occupants’ laundry together instead of doing massive family piles that need to be folded and separated.
  • I’d still have littles help me. My toddlers loved to put wet clothes in the dryer or fold towels.
  • I’d ask my husband to help me more. (I did a lot of things on my own in the old days because I didn’t communicate that I needed help. Neither of us realized how much. Now we know better. FishPapa does a ton of things around the house because he loves us and wants me no to go crazy.)

Doing the wash for a household all by yourself is hard, so don’t knock yourself if your particular situation doesn’t seem “easy”. It’s not easy! It could be a full time job. Therefore it’s one that you can get help for!

Make it easy on yourself and find ways not to do it all on your own.

Do YOU have a tip for making laundry easier?

How I Made Laundry Easy | Life as Mom - Laundry is one of my favorite jobs, particularly now that I've made it easy on myself. These tricks can help you transform your laundry situation as well.

Originally published October 25, 2018. Updated April 3, 2018.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe you can get great meals on the table -- and still keep that pretty smile on your face.

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Comments

  1. Victoria says:

    It took me years to find a routine that works for me. Now I know I MUST wash 1 load of clothes and 1 load of towels daily. I don’t sort by color. We also have other loads that need to be washed (school uniforms, dance clithes, football uniforms) and hung to dry. I try and do at least 1 load of these items a day. It’s so nice to be able to say there is no more Mt. Washmore!

  2. Laura Webber says:

    I love this article, thank you! I have three boys, 7, 4 and 1, and they share a room and a single bifold closet! All of their clothing is kept in the same closet, making it a one stop drop for their laundry!

  3. Bethany says:

    My one argument for doing everyone’s laundry together in daily loads is that my kids (and me, too!) do better with a smaller pile of clothes to put away every day rather than a large pile once a week. Now- I only have three kids and since they are B7, G7 and B2 it’s pretty easy to sort what belongs to whom. I might think differently if sorting was a tougher job 🙂 (I guess my second argument would be that you can do with fewer clothes as everything is almost always clean!)

    As for the kids getting involved I couldn’t agree more! My 2.5 year old loves doing it. Since I have front load machines he can basically do the whole thing by himself. I actually left him to finish putting wet clothes in the dryer because another kid yelled for help. I came back to the dryer full and running 🙂 My big kids have been putting their own clothes away since roughly 5.5. Hanging shirts was rough at first but didn’t take too long to master!

  4. Laurie says:

    Yep, I started my little ones out at two years old folding the wash cloths. Then they graduated to the hand towels by three and big towels by four. Were they perfect? No. But since we stored them in a cupboard with a door, who cares. Their beds had a bottom sheet, duvet and pillow. They could make their bed at four. Not perfect, but made. All of my kids were totally self sufficient by high school. My daughter-in-law thanks me all of the time for teaching her hubs (my son) how to cook, clean, wash and iron. You do your kids a favor by teaching them household chores and responsibility.

    • I recently introduced my kids to top sheets after years of only using a bottom sheet because it was so much simpler. My 11yo got really tripped out. Oh I didn’t know that! Ha!

  5. Leslie says:

    One other tip I’d add is to teach your kids how to determine if their clothes are dirty and need washing, or if they can be worn one more time. I installed hooks in my kids’ closets to quickly hang up a pair of jeans or something that can be worn again. And I don’t let my teen daughter get away with tossing clean shirts (that she has only tried on but not worn) to end up in the hamper. Just reducing the amount that goes into the hamper is a huge savings of time and resources.

  6. katharie says:

    we have six kids — four still at home and just a few months ago I gave up doing everyone’s laundry. big kids do their own, little kids get some help. holy cow — it has changed my life. I still feel a little guilty at times when the june cleaver in my head chastised me for my lack of motherly doting, but she’s easily kicked to the curb and the feeling goes away quickly. I should have done it years ago.

  7. Rachel says:

    Thanks, this is thought provoking. I know we don’t have enough clothes to only be washing them once a week, but I’m pretty sure our laundry system could stand some major tweaking. I’m going to be mulling this over. Thanks for getting me started! 🙂

  8. Cheri A says:

    I waited way to long to teach my kids how to do laundry. They have now been doing laundry for the last two or three years, and it’s totally great. Interestingly enough, my son is much better at doing his laundry than my daughter is. I really thought it would be the other way around. I used to do laundry daily. Now I only have to do laundry myself a few times a week for the hubby and my clothes and then sheets and towels.

    Recently our front loader washing machine broke, and while I wasn’t happy about having to buy a new machine, I was SOOOOO happy to get rid of it. I’m so much happier with the top loader. 🙂

    • Interesting that you went back to a top loader. In the archives is a post as to why I didn’t get a front loader and I got all kinds of grief. LOL!

      So, why do you like top loader better? I have heard that the new ones are amazing for getting the water out.

      • Cheri A says:

        There’s several reasons I was happy to kick the front loader to curb. It’s high maintenance. The gasket in the front catches water and dog hair. Even though I was pretty good about wiping it out, leaving the door ajar, cleaning it with vinegar once every month or so, it was never completely cleaned out. And the dog hair would collect between the gasket so that I’d have to take Q-tips and try to get as much out. Ick.

        I like the top loader because I don’t have to do all the above for a stinking machine. It is quieter. It holds more laundry too. And it does really get the clothes clean.

        I know several other ladies here that have also replaced theirs with top loaders again. I’ll have to go look at the archives and read those posts some time to see why you got such grief!

        • It was five years ago when front loaders were all the rage. I think that the newer top loaders are much better than our old school one. We saw some that had hefty price tags but that held more and claimed to get the water out so you didn’t have to run the dryer so much. Since five years is usually our limit on a w/d combo, we anticipate having to replace in the next year. But considering how many loads we do, we figure it’s done the work of a ten year machine for someone else. 😉

  9. Paige C. says:

    This is almost exactly how I do laundry: by room. By far, the hardest part of laundry for me is the putting away this helps tremendously. No I need to get my kids on board with washing their own things.

  10. I gave up sorting whites and colors once my kids came along. My kids sort their dirty clothes to check for any stains that need to be pretreated. I run the machines. The kids fold and put away their own clothes. The only joint loads we do are denims. I do not like to change the sheets. Perhaps it is time to pass that chore onto the kids.

  11. Robbie says:

    I grew up in a house of 8 (6 kids, a working dad, and a full-time SAHM). My mother didn’t teach us how to do laundry. She said it was just easier for her to do it…I think she was crazy!! After I got married I had to call my husband at work to ask him how to wash clothes. I was SO embarrassed and vowed to teach my kids how to do laundry as soon as they could handle it. So, at age 7, each of my 3 children were taught how to operate the washing machine and dryer. At the time they were very excited about the skill…now, not so much. They know that folding/hanging and putting away are part of the laundry process, too. (They started folding towels & washcloths around 4, and began folding & putting away their own clothes in kindergarten.) We each have a laundry day and, for the most part, we stick to it. My 12 yo son is also in charge of kitchen and bathroom towels. He gets to watch TV as he folds, so it’s a win-win!! Teaching my kids how to do laundry is one of the best things I’ve ever done (and I think my future daughters-in-law will appreciate it, too!!).

  12. We have a 3-bin laundry sorter in our room. We labeled them darks (mostly hubby’s clothes), whites (includes towels, wash cloths, sheets, etc.), and delicates (mostly mine; delicate seems to help knit shirts stay nicer longer). It’s not pretty but the functionality has won me over! Then the kids have a hamper. I do better getting all the laundry done one day a week right now (often the folding spills over into the next day, but that’s b/c the dryer takes 2x as long as the washer and it backs up), but I love having them pre-sorted by color and mostly by person. I agree that having each load belong mostly to hubby, myself, or kids makes folding and putting away a lot simpler!

    This might be slightly OCD, but I have recently started filling up the laundry baskets (with folded clothes) by putting bottom drawer contents in first, then second-from-the-bottom, then third, then top drawer contents on top. I get dizzy easily, and the up/down motion of putting clothes into a dresser is something I avoid, but being able to go straight down the dresser has helped a lot!

  13. This summer with the impending birth of my 5th, I convinced my hubby to try a bin system for my boys’ room. Each of my sons has a bin for short sleeves, shorts, undies and socks, long sleeves/pants, and jammies. This has recently switched over to long sleeves, pants, undies and socks, short sleeves/sweaters, and jammies. My husband really wanted to have the kids put away their own clothes but it always ended in disaster and I just didn’t have time to do it all myself. I thought he was crazy for insisting they do it themselves and he thought it was crazy to put any money in a bin system when they had perfectly good dressers. It’s working great. I can hand my 5 year old a pile and tell him where it goes and it doesn’t end up on the floor. And for some reason, the bins are more likely to be put away than the drawers were to be closed. Now my girls’ dresser drawers are always hanging open so we hope to do bins for them, too. Now the putting away part (hardest for me) is easier.

  14. Great tips listed here. Never heard of laundry pods and strips. Having young ones, I know that they would struggle with the detergent. Mess would be everywhere. I will have to give that one a shot and see how it works out. I will report back after giving it a shot. Thanks for sharing this awesome resource!

  15. Bonnie says:

    I loved reading this article! It makes me feel a lot better about throwing my clothes all together, which my husband doesn’t like, but it really doesn’t make a difference. I have a 10 year old who does his own laundry. And then a 4, 2, and 1 year old who all help with swapping laundry to the dryer and moving laundry to our couch as our laundry room is nowhere near where the troublesome kids may play. Great read!

  16. Do you still use detergent pods with slightly bigger kids, smaller loads, and your fancy new washer? I hesitate to buy them because with liquid I can adjust how much detergent per load or type of clothing. I worry about having too much detergent if I have to wash a small load.

  17. Kathi Luplow says:

    I’m not good with laundry and am the type the leave a load in the washer for hours. The Declutter 365 site was a game changer for me when she suggested assigning a load per day per person in the household. I can do a load a day! Each kid is assigned a day and there’s no sorting. I wash and they are expected to put it away the same day. It doesn’t always happen, but the onus is on them and not me.

  18. Lauren says:

    I love the idea of my kids doing their laundry, but I feel like there is a lot that needs to be hung up to dry to keep them in good condition. There is a picture of a sweater in the pile of clothes in your post. Do you dry sweaters? How do you handle clothes that need to be treated more gently than washing and drying? Thanks!

    • I don’t really buy my kids clothes that aren’t wash and wear. We have a drying rack and a hanging rod in the laundry room. As they’ve gotten older, they start to care about their clothes in a different way. Well, some of them do.

      I do my own laundry, and my kids know not to touch my clothes or my head will spin around. Yes, there is a point of being too helpful, which I guess is a good problem to have!

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