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.
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.
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!
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!
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?
Originally published October 25, 2015. Updated April 3, 2018.