Why Complicate a Simple Task?
Let’s just face it, laundry just keeps coming. It is not one of those chores that you can do and be done. So, I compiled a few of my favorite ideas for simplifying this task. While raising five kids, the strategy of getting it done faster helped me to develop a few speedy tricks.
Laundry seems to be a burden to so many. I think that it can be overwhelming because it is never done. Several moms have asked how our family does laundry. Perhaps the size of our family leads to the belief that we have a “system”. All I can relate is how laundry works into our schedule. Once a system is in place, prepare to be flexible. Sometimes company adds extra loads with towels and sheets. Certain weeks include washing pillows and comforters. Seasons of life add sports laundry. For me a pattern, weekly schedule, quick response to the dryer buzzer, and designated laundry person contribute to a completed task. Here are some thoughts from our system that might inspire ideas for yours.
Tuesday is our first stay-at-home day of the week. So early Tuesday morning after making coffee, I began the laundry for the week starting with the load of mixed colors. Dark clothes follow. Whites and delicates are last. Each time the dryer stops I try to respond immediately and fold all the items in the dryer. The clothes out of the dryer are folded sorted into categories when necessary. I use the top of the drying for sorting the piles and the top of the washer to fold. Piling the clothes in a mammoth stack to be folded at the end of the day potentially creates extra stress and discouragement. Folding clothes as the dryers stops also keeps them from wrinkling. Since I respond immediately to the dryer buzzer, the laundry can be completed in one day a week.
Along the wall in our laundry room each child has a clean clothes basket. The clothes coming out of the dryer are folded immediately and placed into the correct basket. If your washer and dryer are in a closet, you can line up the baskets nearby. We do have a laundry chute that comes down from the children’s bathroom. Early on the morning of laundry day one of the children is asked to change out the towels in the kids bathroom and throw the dirty ones down the laundry chute. I respond immediately to these partially wet towels. If they were to sit for a while they would develop a horrid smell along with mildew spots. Each child puts new sheets on their own bed and throws their sheets down the laundry chute. Purchasing two sets of sheets for each bed simplifies laundry and assists the process of making a bed quick when company is coming. A few years ago the sheets for each bed were stored in the room where they belonged. This seemed to simplify the changing for the sheets each week. The dirty sheets come off the bed with the new ones going on immediately. This pattern eliminates the possibility of coming to bed late at night only to discover that your bed is not made. Yikes!
Sorting, Folding and Putting Away Promptly
By sorting the clothes as soon as they finish drying, they never escape the laundry room. Respond as soon as the buzzer on the dryer goes off. If you time yourself as you fold a load, I would expect it will not take you more than ten minutes. Timing myself to do repetitive tasks encourages me that remember that they are not as time consuming as they might feel. This habit has kept a stack of clean items begging to be folded from ever appearing in any other part of my house. It seems to work best to quickly process a stack of laundry coming out of the dryer, than requiring the committed time for folding when several loads are done. Less wrinkling happens when articles are folded promptly from a warm dryer. Once laundry is complete for the week, each child is asked to promptly take their clean clothes up to their room to put them away. Asking them to put the clothes away right before dinner or a snack helps them to hurry. If this smells like bribery, I plead guilty. I call it motivation or the power of food.
Hanging and Soaking
Other essentials for success in my laundry room include the hanging bar for pieces needing a hanger immediately. Sweaters, delicates, sports clothes, men’s dress shirts and no-dryer items rest on this fold-out bar until they are transferred to the correct closet.
Whenever possible, soak troublesome items between loads. A utility sink is such a blessing. When I cleaned houses in college, I would just drool when I had a utility sink to work with instead of a bathtub or outside hose. When we built our current home, I managed to locate one inside and one outside. They are such a help. My inside sink often holds a bucket of Oxiclean dissolved into warm water. After soaking, many notoriously stubborn stains disappear easily.
Who is in Charge?
Each household must sort out who is in charge of the laundry. Dads often take over this job. In our home, the kids help me accomplish this activity. Each older teen takes a year to be in charge of the laundry so they will be confident in this task in college and later their own home. Like most other housework, systems must be developed for your family and the configuration of your home. Try ideas that fit your family. Always think of ways to bring the process to more efficiency. I love when a new idea saves me time or solves a problem.
Bright and Organized
Bright colored walls with friendly signs create a cheerful work space. A rug in front of my machines is a must as I slipped several times due to the moisture in the room. Whenever baskets and clever organizing items simplify the task, the process seems more enjoyable.
Thankful for My Dryer
A cross-stitched sign that I made as a new bride hangs in my laundry room. It reads “I am thankful for my dryer”. I am truly thankful. As a young girl living in the West Indies and even the Carolinas, I hung wet clothes out to dry. We dashed out to gather them up if a surprise rain storm appeared. While my appreciation for today’s dryer is acute, I do miss the smell of dry clothes that have been dried in the sun. Happy memories of childhood! Although the task of laundry cycles around regularly, a thought of gratitude for the tools available to you will always lift your mood.
Create a time in your weekly schedule to attack your laundry. Respond quickly to each buzzer. Share the responsibility with family members. Think of how easy things are when they work with a rhythm. Devise a flow that functions for you! Be thankful for tools that help you complete the work. Don’t complicate a simple task!
For a book full of ideas on ways to make your life easier with homemaking:
Hum of the Home: Routines and Rhythms of Homemaking
More Ideas on Home:
Nurturing My Nest: Intentional Homebuilding and Custom Built Education
Listen to a conversation with my handsome husband at Embrace Your Everyday podcast.