For most moms it's a dirty word. Literally. It's almost as if the dirty clothes have declared war on us. Little piles of it hide in corners awaiting their moment of attack while the mountain in the laundry room grows tall enough to take us down.
Yes, that's a bit of an exaggeration physically, but is it really? Have you ever found yourself feeling like the laundry was going to take you down? I know I have. It seems like every single time I try to do something about the laundry, more appears. How on earth can 5 people wear this many clothes?
I've considered establishing a 1 outfit per week policy or moving to a place where clothes are not required. But neither of those is really all that appealing. So it looks like the laundry thing is here to stay. Which can only mean one thing. We have to get a handle on it.
Tips for organizing laundry so it doesn’t consume you
1. Put incredible and intentional effort into the laundry space.
I was a homemaker for over 11 years before I actually put some intentional effort into this. Before that I figured the laundry space was just something to deal with. It never occurred to me that I should actually make the space work for me. I can not tell you how wonderful the change has been. Seriously. What I did was simple. I created a space for a laundry basket for each person in our family. Plus one for towels. On top of that space is a place to fold the laundry.
When clothes come out of the dryer, we simply put them up on the table and begin folding. Once folded, the laundry goes into the appropriate basket. When the basket gets full, it is taken by the owner and put away. Simple, right?
Another option would be to just sort the clean clothes into the baskets and let the owners do the folding. My boys are still little and I find that it’s just a little above their ability just yet to do the folding part and actually not have to wear clothes that look like raisins. So the girls and I stick with the first option. I think not folding them could certainly work for many families though.
I’ve created a video walking you through how we make it work.
2. Have a weekly laundry schedule.
The second thing I put into place is a weekly laundry schedule. The idea sounded ridiculous to me at first, but it has seriously made our laundry life wonderful. Each day of the week a certain type of laundry is done. Since there are 5 people in the family, each person has a laundry day. Then on Saturdays we wash towels and sheets.
The schedule is posted on the fridge and in the laundry room so everyone knows. Whoever is on the schedule has first dibs at the washing machine AND is expected to use it. For the boys and the family items, we take turns making sure it is done. This has really helped my girls to not let their laundry get out of control. It also helps keep them from having an emergency need for clothing.
3. Set an alarm
This seems a little extreme, but again, life changing. I put the laundry on a regular alarm on my phone. Your smart phone should be able to do this. On my iPhone I can add a new alarm and set it to say “do the laundry.” I can then set it to go off at the same time every single day. I use this as a reminder to make sure it’s getting done. If the laundry is still in the washer, I will set a 40 minute timer again so I can remind the laundry person to get it out.
Another option is to put the laundry on your recurring to-do list (if you have a digital one). Two options that I have used and enjoyed are Todo List and Nozbe. I don’t use either of these anymore because we use a business program that has everything I need in one place. BUT- I still recommend these two, particularly Nozbe. If you love to check off things on a list and you don’t want to forget occasional items like changing the filter or giving the dogs flea meds, you’ll love this easy daily checklist!
4. Toss out old school laundry ideas
So, this one might shock a few people, but I’ve never once in my adult life sorted the laundry by colors. (Go ahead and pick your jaw off the floor. I’ll wait.) Seriously, this method of doing the laundry is important if you use hot water washes. But with today’s technology we shouldn’t be doing that anymore anyway. Most clothes are perfectly clean on cold wash cycles.
My first rebellious laundry method was to sort by type. I would do jeans and towels together, but put more delicate sweaters and tops in their own load. In some ways I still do this. I toss my jeans in with the towels each weekend. But for the kids I don’t bother. Nothing they have is delicate. Plus, again, today’s technology is a very delicate wash to begin with. Most clothes are fine mingling together.
Possibly the best method I have found is to wash by person. This cuts the sorting down drastically both before and after washing. Each person in the family is assigned a laundry day as mentioned above and they simply do all of their laundry on that day. (For the most part, that is one load.) The beauty is, when that laundry comes out, we don’t need to sort it. We know exactly where it all belongs.
5. Teach your kids how to help
Personally I don’t think that kids should ever get a free ride. When we grow up, we will be on our own to do it all, so we ought to learn how to handle some of this before it’s too late. Trust me, YouTube is helpful in teaching, but the attitude of entitlement and laziness is simply something you must uproot in your life and the lives of your children.
So teach them to do the laundry. Start with folding simple things and move up from there. Most kids are fully capable of running their own laundry from start to finish by the time they are 10. Even my 8-year-old boy is very close to this stage, largely because he has been a part of the process for so long. One tip to make this work is to have a chart next to the washer that teaches and reminds little ones of the steps in the process.
You can get a free copy of this chart along with the Scripture printables below.
6. Take it to the mat
Despite our best intentions for schedules, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. I find this especially true after a trip. When we travel to speak at homeschool conventions we are usually gone the better part of a week. That means the laundry is piling up quick as we have missed a week of the schedule.
When this happens, I have been known to take everything down to the laundromat. It’s gonna cost me, but in just about an hour, all of the laundry can be finished at one time. Think of this method as your lifeline in case you get into laundry distress. As an added benefit, your kids will learn a lot about culture. (Haha)
FREE Laundry Printables
I hope you’ve gained a ton of value from this post, but I just can’t leave without throwing in some fun stuff to help support you. We’ve created 4 Scripture printables for your laundry room. You can print one or print them all. I’ve also included the “How to” chart for kids that you saw in the video!
We’ve combined all of our best resources for discipling your children (including this one) into one amazing download and it’s absolutely FREE to members of our community. Click the image below to download our 81+ page collection of printables today.
Your turn===> Have you tried any of these tips? What are your favorite ways to tackle the laundry beast?