With four young kids, our laundry seems never ending. In addition to all of the laundry everyone generates, they also have school uniforms, dance clothes and soccer uniforms. It can get a little overwhelming. For a time, it was a chore I dreaded. It would occasionally leave me in tears, literally. I just had a hard time keeping up with it all. It was during one of these moments that my husband, Nick, and I had a conversation that forever changed how I do laundry.
As a quick aside, Nick and I each picked one chore that was ‘ours’ when we first got married that the other person really disliked. I chose laundry. At that time I actually enjoyed it! Nick vacuums and washes the floors.
Getting back to the current laundry situation. When I explained to him how overwhelmed I felt by the amount of time the laundry was taking, he made a few recommendations. I used his recommendations and experimented with some things on my own to come up with the following tips.
Laundry Hacks That Can Save You Time
1. Sort Laundry
I used to sort all of the household laundry by color. It supposedly makes clothes look better and colors last longer. With a family of six, it also takes a really long time! In an overwhelmed moment, I decided to throw all of the kids clothes into the washing machine together. Guess what happened? Nothing. Their clothes looked fine. So I kept doing it and began doing it with my clothes and Nick’s clothes too. Years later, I still see no discernible difference from when I used to sort by color. I only separate the whites when I bleach them (which is rare; like once a year).
That being said, I do wash very delicate clothing items separately. They are few and far between. I also wash sheets and towels separately.
So how do I sort the laundry then? Technically, everyone in the family sorts laundry. Each bedroom has its own laundry hamper. When it’s time to do laundry, I do it one hamper at a time. That way, all of the clothing in that load of laundry goes back to the same bedroom. This cuts down on so much time needed because it can all be folded and put away right there. There is no need for even sorting through the clothes when folding them. They all go to the same person! Our younger children share a room, as do Nick and myself. Since there is one male and one female in each of the rooms though, it’s pretty easy to figure out.
2. Use cold water for almost everything
Almost all of our laundry is washed in cold water. I have found this to help keep clothes looking new for longer. It is gentler on the fabric. Hot water fades clothes and sets in stains. Colors bleed in warmer water.
When I buy something bright red I will wash it separately for the first time depending on the fabric because some red clothes bleed initially even in cold water. After that initial wash, it is business as usual.
I do use hot water to wash sheets and towels. I feel hot water does a better job cleaning these items.
3. Dry using low heat
I dry everything we wash on low heat, unless it is something that is hung to dry. Have you ever accidentally dried something on a higher setting than you were supposed to use? Yeah, me too. My brand new sweater came out of the dryer and fit my six year old niece. Drying everything on low prevents accidental shrinking. Also, many clothing tags recommend drying on low heat.
4. Pre-treat stains
When an item of clothing is stained enough to need to be pre-treated, I try to launder it right away before the stain sets in. I put a stain treatment on it and then I like to put it in a mesh lingerie bag. I do this because I want to see if the stain came out before I put it in the dryer, since heat could set the stain. When I see that bag it reminds me to check on the stain. Without the bag I often forget about that item completely until I am folding the clean laundry. If the stain remains I will treat it again and throw it into the wash for another cycle.
More Helpful Hints
In addition to the laundry hacks above, I began looking at my piles of laundry with gratitude. It was a little challenging to think of laundry in that light at first. Now I am truly grateful for all of the laundry I do because it serves as a reminder that I have four amazing children and a wonderful husband. I also look forward to the day that my four beautiful children will be doing the laundry!
At this time, our 7 and 9 year olds are responsible for putting away their laundry. Their bureau drawers are even labelled to ensure they know where to put everything. This encourages responsibility on their part and also helps me out with the laundry!
I also put single socks in a lingerie bag. About once a month, I will take out the bag and match up all of the pairs that I can find while watching TV. Most socks are eventually reunited with their mate!
What are your tips for conquering the piles of laundry?