So many of us feel like we’re buried under piles of laundry. We have them in the bathroom, the bedroom, the laundry room, piled on the couch waiting to be folded… there’s laundry everywhere! There are many reasons laundry piles up like that: too many clothes, too little time, simple procrastination. You can solve your laundry problems with some simple time management and motivation.
First, try to dig out of the pile of dirty laundry. The easiest, and fastest way to do it is to take the whole pile to the laundromat. You can whip out all that laundry in just a few hours, and you can take some time for yourself to read a magazine or something. At this time of year, you can use that time to address greeting cards and write letters.
While you’re at the laundromat, make sure you fold everything. Bring hangers with you to hang the closet clothes. When you get home, momentum will make it easy to get the stuff put away in dressers and closets.
Now that the laundry is caught up, you can look at ways to cut it down. I couldn’t believe it when I saw a magazine article recommend to buy more socks and undies to cut down on laundry. The more clothes you have, the more it piles up! It’s tempting to keep putting off the laundry because you still have enough clean clothes to scrape by.
One way to cut down on laundry time is to cut down on clothes. One of my friends who recently pared down her family’s clothes found that she has gone from doing five loads of laundry a week to three! Start by giving away the clothes that don’t fit. They tend to sneak into the laundry room when they’re tried on and rejected. (If you want to keep some clothes because you plan to diet into them, put them in a box and mark a date on them. If they don’t fit on that date, give them away.) Then, give away the clothes that you and your kids just don’t like. You know, the clothes that tell you it’s laundry day because you’re forced to wear them. Get those out. If you’re like me, you probably still have a ton of clothes left. This is the point to be ruthless.
Put together 7 or 8 outfits for yourself and each of your kids. You may need to put together 7 work/ school/ church outfits and 4-5 play outfits. Allow some extra t-shirts, shorts, sweaters, and sweaters. (maybe 4 per person?) Then, give away the rest. (Or, if you have the room, box them up to rotate your wardrobe every few months.) The point is to keep your and your kids’ wardrobes small.
Whether or not you reduce your wardrobe, another way to take control of laundry is to come up with a system for doing it. Only you know what is acceptable for your lifestyle and family.
Try to keep at least two laundry baskets in a central location to collect dirty clothes. Train your family to put lights in one basket and darks in the other. This cuts down on your sorting time immensely.
Some people like to do all of their laundry once a week. They’ll devote an entire Saturday to this. I did this when I was single, and it worked really well, since it was only two loads, lights and darks. With a large family, or with a small baby, this might take the entire day. Of course, you can do other things at the same time, but you still have 6 or 7 loads of laundry to fold on one day.
Other people like to make it part of their morning routine to start a load of laundry in the washer. (Do this after everyone has showered.) If you don’t like to leave appliances running while you’re gone for the day, then set the washer up before you go to work so that all you have to do when you get home is start it. If you start your laundry first thing in the morning, then you can throw it in the dryer as soon as you get home (or, if you stay home during the day, throw it in the dryer at your leisure.)
Always fold the laundry the same day you wash and dry it. This prevents wrinkles and it prevents clean clothes pile-up on the living room couch. (I don’t even fold my laundry on the living room couch. I fold it on the dryer, so it doesn’t even leave the laundry room unfolded.)
Now that your dressers and closets are unclogged, putting clothes away will be easy. You can even get your children, over about the age of four, to put their own clothes away.
When you’re buying new clothes, make sure you really need them. Also, make life easier for yourself by buying distinctive socks and underwear for each person. Son number 1 could have tall tube socks with all gray bottoms, while son number two can have short tube socks with gray heels and toes. Your husband can wear plain white tube socks while you wear peds or anklets. Always buy the same type, though, so you don’t have to fuss with matching socks. Same with underwear. Make sure each person’s underwear is distinctive, especially if you have two kids that are the same size.
Keep a garbage bag by your washer and dryer so you can instantly throw away ruined and stained clothes. There’s no reason for those things to end up back in circulation, even as rags (I use cloth diapers as my rags.) Keep a donation box near the dryer so after you wash something that doesn’t fit any more, you can fold it and put it right into the donation box. When the box is full, take it to a donation place.
Make sure you store out of season clothes in a separate place from the current clothes. If not, your kids will be throwing clean out of season clothes into the clothes basket instead of neatly refolding them and putting them away.
You can win over your laundry. Just implement one or two of these tips at a time. If it’s too frightening to give away that many clothes, commit to giving away one or two items a week. Or commit to giving away one item when you bring a new one in. It can be done!