I say this constantly: I never realized that one additional human would cause SO MUCH MORE laundry. Doing laundry for five people is drastically different than doing laundry for four!
It typically takes me forever to get the laundry done. I’ve been working on ways to streamline it, and I think I have finally figure out the most efficient ways to get it done. You can use the five tips below regardless of whether you wash all the laundry on one day or spread it across a few.
My time spend in laundry laundry decreased dramatically when I started implementing the methods in this blog post. I feel like I have a whole day back just by making a few, simple changes. Hopefully they help you the way they help me!
TIP 1: Consider what is in front of you. Yes, it sounds like common sense — but I bet you’re not looking at the laundry and thinking, “can I finish this 100% — as in washed, dried, and put away?” It’s easy to look at a big pile of laundry and just want to do something with it. However, that stress and snap decision making doesn’t usually produce finished laundry: it produces a load left in the washer for two days by mistake, bushels of unfolded laundry all over the house, and more stress than you began with! Ask yourself these questions before you begin:
- Do I have what I need to start and fully finish this task (check soap bottles, fabric softener supply, number of bushels)?
- Am I able to finish what I start? If I wash five loads, can I put them all where they belong?
- What else do I have to do today — do I have time to do this in the midst of that?
I mean, I know it’s laundry and non a civil service exam, but you still need to put some thought into understanding whether or not you are 1) prepared to do it right, and 2) prepared to finish what you start. As someone who has been inherently disorganized her entire life, mapping out and thinking critically about what it takes to finish a task has been a game changer. If you don’t have the time or supplies to start and finish this task, don’t start it. Trust me!
TIP 2: As you sort the clothes, turn them right side out. I’ve tried washing clothes both ways (turning them before and after they’re washed). It’s easier at the time to throw them in the washer without paying attention to if they’re inside out, but when it comes time to fold them and hang them up, you will probably hate yourself a little bit. As you sort them, turn all of them right side out. Of course, you could always commission your spouse and children to do this before they throw them in the hamper or the clothes chute, but let’s be real — probably not happening.
As you pick up clothing and sort it, you’re already in the mindset of “everything has a place.” Plus, you’re motivated to at least do SOMETHING with the giant pile in front of you. This is the best time to turn the clothes right side out. If you wait until they’re dry and ready to be folded — you know, when you’re sick and tired of laundry even more than you were when you started — you’re more like to say “screw this” and leave them sitting in the bushel.
TIP 3: Ensure that socks make it into the hamper or chute PUT TOGETHER. I don’t know where my husband got this amazing freaking life hack. It had to be his mother (THANK YOU). We have an old home (1932), so we have chutes upstairs and downstairs. When we first moved in together, my husband would fold his socks together before throwing them in the clothes chute.
At first I thought, “who the F folds dirty socks?”
And then…it dawned on me. Putting them together means one doesn’t end up on the floor, stuck in the chute, under the bed, or wherever lonely socks go. I’ve now made “traveling pairs” a must in my house. If you can rally your troops and get them to put dirty socks together before tossing them into the dirty clothes, your lost sock average will decrease immensely.
TIP 4: Have a bushel for each human in your house. When the clothes are finally washed and dried, separate them by human. Forget everything you know about putting clothes for 82 different people in the same bushel and do this instead.
If you wait until ALL of the clothes are washed and dried before sorting them, toss them into respective-human bushels just as they are. If you work through a bushel at a time 100% (washed, dried, folded), fold them before putting them in respective bushels.
Before I started utilizing this method, I spent most of my time walking back and forth. I folded and organized the clothes in piles, but the piles were all mixed together. I had bushels that included my clothes, my husband’s clothes, the baby’s clothes…etc. I’d grab my pile of leggings and put it away. Then I’d grab my daughter’s school uniforms, walk into her room, and put them away. Then I’d come back and get my pile of shirts and put those away, followed by my husband’s boxers. Back. Forth. Back. Forth. It was a nice way to get steps in, but five bushels later, I knew I wasted a lot of time.
Put your clothes in their own bushel and put that away first. Repeat with every human in your home. OH, and if your kids are old enough, hand them their bushel and tell them to have fun putting their own clothes away :-).
TIP 5: Put clothes on hangers immediately. Grab all the lonely hangers you have and put them in a nice pile. Bring the pile to where you fold your laundry. Put the clothes that should be hung up on hangers when you take them out of the dryer.
I never used to do this. I used to pick out the clothes that needed to be hung up and lay them on the top of the bushel. Then, when I got upstairs, I’d sort them by person, look all over for hangers, and hang half of them up because I was too annoyed and sick of laundry to hang up the other half.
Hanging up clothes when you’re standing in front of a bushel folding the others is as game changer. As soon as the bushel goes upstairs to its respective room, I take the pile with hangers on top of the bushels and hang them up really quickly. This is another one of those very simple changes that has proven to give me back a lot of time!
I hope these tips help you the way they’ve helped me. As a mom of three, I am always looking for the most efficient way to do things — including laundry. Cheers!