Laundry happens. And then happens again. And again and again, for the rest of forever.
And maybe it is the ever-presence of it that makes it feel so monstrous to some. Laundry is the most common complaint I hear from frustrated homemakers. So I’m here today to tell you once and for all how to kill the laundry monster! Kill the beast! (Okay, I totally pictured the townspeople in Beauty and the Beast raising their torches as I typed that last sentence …)
I’ve shared so many laundry tips through the years and I’ve even shared my own laundry schedule, but today I want to put it all together for you. I’m going to start at the beginning and guide you step by step through how to make laundry easy.
Step 1: Group Laundry by Category
First, let’s establish that there are different kinds of laundry and group like laundry into categories: adult clothes, kid clothes, towels, bedding, and kitchen laundry. Grouping makes so much sense for so many reasons. You probably wash each type of laundry in a different way. For instance, I only hang dry my clothes, but I dry my kitchen towels on extra high heat and I mix colors for my kids clothes, etc.
Another reason to group laundry is to break a big job into small manageable chunks. When I hear the phrases “mountain of laundry” or “loads of laundry” it makes me want to cry for people. A mountain of anything would feel daunting, but especially dirty clothes. A load of towels that I can fold in 10 minutes while I talk to my kids or watch tv … that sounds much better!
Step 2: Figure Out A Laundry Schedule
Excepting the weeks of my broken foot, my laundry is never behind or stressful to me. My guess is that people with “mountains of laundry” actually think about their laundry way more than I do. My laundry doing is on autopilot. I wake up on Monday already knowing how I’m going to do the day’s laundry, there is nothing new to figure out. I’ll start the table cloth from Sunday dinner in the wash on a speed cycle, and then throw the kitchen rag laundry in the washer after I wipe the counters from breakfast. If I’m worried I’ll be too distracted with a project, I’ll set a timer on my phone to remind me to move something to the dryer. I also know that while I prep dinner Monday night, I will bring those towels to the kitchen table and fold while dinner bakes or ask my kids to fold them while I’m cooking. That tablecloth is a quick fold and put away as it comes out of the dryer.
If you don’t have a good laundry schedule yet, let’s figure out how to create one. Pick a day of the week for each type of laundry. Take into consideration how many loads belong to each category (like I have 2 kitchen loads), and what your schedule generally looks like each day. Set yourself up for success by picking a clothes laundry day for a day you’ll be home to put away loads right out of the dryer. I do bedding on a day when I know my husband will be home to help me put the sheets on my bed (King beds are so much easier to make with two people!). I do my kids laundry on a day when they don’t have many activities so they’ll be available to assist. If you feel like any category could work any day and you feel overwhelmed deciding, then use this sample schedule:
- Monday – Kitchen Laundry
- Tuesday – Bedding Laundry
- Wednesday – Towel Laundry
- Thursday – Adult Clothes Laundry
- Friday/Saturday – Kid Clothes Laundry
>>>> Read more about my laundry schedule here …
Step 3: Keep To The Schedule (even when you want to quit)
You may have begun this attempt at laundry already assuming you’ll fail, so when you have your first off day or look for any excuse to avoid laundry, you give up on the schedule. Beware, or the laundry monster will take up residence on your laundry mountain again. Quit thinking all or nothing. Give yourself a few weeks to work out the kinks of your schedule. Expect yourself to do it imperfectly, especially at first, but have faith that following the schedule imperfectly is still way better than the alternative. With time, you’ll be amazed at how you’ll start to rely on your schedule and the freedom it gives you to actually say you’re DONE with laundry after you finish the day’s category.
Step 4: Improve The System
I’ve found ways of handling the different types of laundry that makes the laundry system run smoothly. One important thing that is instrumental is that I end each day with all clean laundry put away. There are no stragglers in the dryer or a laundry basket or creating a monster mountain somewhere. I give myself the gift of a clean slate with laundry every day.
Here are some more ideas —
Kitchen Laundry – I wash table cloths after we use them, which is usually for Sunday dinner. I put it in the washing machine after dinner and then run the wash the next day since I try to make Sunday a day of rest and I don’t want to have to remember to put it in the dryer and fold it before it wrinkles. (“Try” being the operative word in try to have a day of rest. Anyone who has taken a 2 year old to church knows that Sundays aren’t all that restful.)
During the week I put dirty kitchen rags (dish cloths and dish towels) in a mop bucket under my sink. I hang the wet rags on the side of the bucket until they dry and then push them all the way in. I wash the bucket on the sanitize cycle once a week. I go through several rags a day because I grab a fresh one all the time. >>>> Read more about my kitchen laundry system …
Bedding Laundry –
My trick for my kids beds is an extra set of sheets in the linen closet. This way I’m only having to go to each bed once: take the dirty sheets off and put the clean sheets on all at one time. Then I take the big pile of sheets to the washer, put it in the dryer when I remember a few hours later, and then fold them and put them in the linen closet before I go to bed.
For washing my bed’s sheets, I strip the sheets and wash them and then put the clean pile on the bed. The sheets have to go back on the bed before I can sleep. Usually my husband and I put them on together when he comes home. I do have spare sheets for my bed, though I don’t get them out weekly. I still have them because I learned that was necessary when my big kids were little. Having a sick child puke on your bed without replacement sheets is a lesson I only needed to learn once.
Towel Laundry –
I keep a hamper in each bathroom that has a bath in it, so towels can be put there easily. I wash the towel laundry for the downstairs bathrooms and upstairs bathrooms separately, because it makes each load manageable and very easy to put away. If I combined them all I’d have to fold and sort and then take a million different places. If you don’t have stairs, you may consider separating loads by bathrooms. It really does simplify things!
Adult Clothes Laundry –
I’m kind of picky with the adult laundry. I want our clothes to last a long time looking good, and not just last a long time because we keep wearing clothes that are worn out (which I totally think my husband would be willing to do – he is a frugal man at heart). We separate our clothes into 6 different wash types as we undress in our closet. I use these fun laundry hanging bags (I show how to sew them in the post linked to the picture).
I do our adult laundry every Thursday, but I only wash the hanging bags that are full. 6 loads of laundry in one day might sound like a lot, but it isn’t hard. I do schedule this laundry on a day I’m usually mostly home so that I can stay on top of changing out the loads. (On Thursdays I definitely use a timer to remind myself to change the load over!) The thing about these loads is that they are all the same type of clothes, so putting them away is very very easy. I take the basket to the closet and hang them right up all in the same section. Even the socks for each load type are all the same type that go in the same drawer. So yes, it might be more loads than you’d think would be easy, but it is broken into such manageable chunks that the work is simple. The only part that drags on is my hanging laundry. I sometimes let it finish drying over night, so it is my one exception to the all clean laundry gets put away by the end of the day rule. >>>> Read more about the laundry bags and all my wash cycles here …
Kid Clothes Laundry –
I wrote about my kid’s laundry system during my first year of blogging and it continues to be one of the most popular posts on my blog. I get consistent feedback that this system alone is killing the laundry monster for so many of you! Instead of giving away the details here, I’m going to let you read the original description. I’ve done this for YEARS and can’t imagine a different way until my girls get picky about their clothes like I am and start doing their own wash completely on their own. Until then. >>>> Read more about The Easiest Way to Do Kid’s Laundry …
Step 5: Use laundry detergent that is safe for allergies and sensitive skin
You know I’m a Shaklee distributor and this laundry detergent helped me make that decision three years ago. I had been using the cleaners for a while as just a customer, but hadn’t tried anything else. Then I noticed my daughter’s skin felt very dry and rough and I remembered reading something somewhere about Shaklee laundry detergent. I thought why not give that a try? I did try it and I fell in love. My daughter’s skin improved quickly and as a bonus, our clothes were cleaner. They are made with safe ingredients that I trust even with newborn laundry. Let me introduce you to my laundry dream team!!
- Fresh Laundry – Gets my clothes super clean every time. Also works as a stain fighter. I’ll put the straight concentrate on stains before putting them in the wash.
- Nature Bright – Whitens and brightens. Add a little to loads like kids clothes and towels. Magic.
- Basic H2, degreaser dilution – Basic H2 is a cleaning concentrate. I use the degreaser dilution (1.5 tsp Basic H2 in 16 oz. water) mixed with Nature Bright to get out tough stains.
- Soft Fabric – I don’t use this every load, because I’ve just never been that into fabric softener, but I love it for my towels and some of the loads of clothes.
**Buy the entire cleaning kit HERE. When you order the cleaning kit, membership is free. Shaklee membership is just a savings benefit. There are no monthly minimums or strings attached. You get to be a member free for the rest of your life! The benefit of becoming a member is lots of savings for you and special member-only events! (The benefit to me is that when you become a member from one of my links, you stay MY member, and whenever you order now or in ten years, you get your discount and I get paid. Thank you!)**
So, that’s it. Follow these steps and
Kill the Laundry Monster once and for all!!!!!
Man, I always enjoy a good discussion of laundry. I may have a sickness.
From my home to yours,
I had to laugh about the extra set of sheets for your bed – when my daughter was less than one year old, she would puke about once a month, and she always seemed to be in our bed when it happened! I do not miss that! 🙂
Yes, it is like a magnet pulls them towards our beds before anything like that happens! I always say I’d rather my bed than theirs, because at least they have a place to go to sleep as soon as you get them comforted!
kaycee Farrell says
Mary! I’m not even quite finished with your laundry process article and I just want you to organize my whole life for me
kaycee Farrell says
And PS. I am SO clearly not utilizing all the available cycles on my fancy washer! 😉
Use them! I love all the different settings!!
Stick around and I’ll try! 🙂
Love your organizing ideas about the laundry.
I love these ideas, but I wish some of them were written with tips in mind for working adults with kids. It’s a great idea to cover one type of laundry each day, but it’s not realistic for us. Example: On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we’re all gone from 7:30am to 7:30pm, and when we get home there are dinner, homework, and showers for 4 people to get through before bed. Sports practice changes every week….. So do work schedules, sometimes. Most of the families I know face these issues, and many of these tips don’t allow for variation in schedule. Great ideas, just too rigid for our household.
Have you read all my posts about working around your schedule and adapting it into your life, etc. Many working moms (I work too and my husband travels most of the time) have successfully completed this. The ideas are just ideas – only as rigid as you make them. Definitely adapt as needed to fit your life. 🙂
L would love a system for those of us who are NOT blessed with a washer and dryer in OUR house. There has to be an easier way than 4 hours at the laundromat each week! I’m seriously considering reducing our clothes to 2 weeks worth PERIOD! One week to wear and one on the drawers in case it’s a very dirty week.
I definitely recommend reducing down your clothing amount! I recommend that for those with washer and dryers in our houses and those who don’t! I’m wondering why it is taking you 4 hours at the laundromat. My washer/dryer were broken last year when there were the six of us in my household and my grandma was still living with us. It was less than 2 hours at the laundromat for seven people, bedding and all, because we just put the different loads in their own machine, and did a wash (which was way faster than my home washer) and then a dry load. I’m wondering if you’d be able to do this with less clothes you’re washing. The trick is putting it all away right when you get home … and for that I would delegate! You would need to find a regular time in your schedule to go, similar to finding a time to go grocery shopping, and make it a routine. The advantage to the laundromat way is you get all the laundry done in one fell swoop and don’t have to think about it the rest of the week. 🙂
Mary Sutton says
Mary – I am writing to thank you. After YEARS of not being able to keep up with the laundry (and we only have a family of 4, plus 2 pets), I finally came across your system. Before I found your system, I was constantly frustrated by the laundry and always had unfolded laundry sitting around. I have been using your method for at least four months now, and I rarely get behind. It works! Thank you, thank you. The key for me is the sorting into types of laundry and then only doing certain types each day. I have a schedule and I stick to it. You have made my life much easier and less stressful. Thanks for sharing your technique.
You are so welcome! I am so glad you’ve killed that monster … it makes life SO MUCH EASIER!