This tip was one of the first things I’ve shared on my blog 5 years ago and it has helped countless people transform their laundry issues! Has it helped you? Will it help you?
This is the easiest way to do kid’s laundry whether you have 1 or a dozen kids.
I’ve had people come back and tell me that they were afraid to try because my way made them nervous. They’ve been doing laundry the same way their mother did and can’t imagine it any other way. If this is you, remind yourself that there have been a lot of advances in phones, computers, tvs … and the way to do laundry. There are more convenient ways than you’ve experienced – and they work better and make laundry easier!!! It’s okay to make laundry easier, because enough things in life are just hard.
The OLD Way = Time Waster
Sort before: Sort your piles into darks, mediums, lights, reds, delicates, etc. Combine laundry from different people and kids to make the loads “worth it.”
Sort after: Sort after the load is dry. One load of laundry may have things that need to be put away in every bedroom/ bathroom of your house.
Spend a lot of time sorting before and after.
If you have kids close in age or children with similar sizes or style of clothing, then you will spend a lot of time analyzing each piece while you sort and will still probably put a lot of clothes in the wrong place on accident.
More Reasons To Procrastinate
I look at all that extra time you take as annoying little obstacles. And when you’re living a life full of things-besides-laundry, these obstacles get in your way of just getting it done. You procrastinate starting your laundry because you don’t have time to sort everything. And then you procrastinate putting laundry away because you don’t have time to sort and fold everything.
Simple Is Better
Sometimes two ways of doing things can end in the exact same result, like clean laundry. The simple way is better, though, just because it is simple.
Simple solutions have fewer complications that get in our way. Simple solutions are easier to delegate when we need help. Simple solutions are easier to approach when you’re overwhelmed.
The Easiest Way To Do Kid’s Laundry
These steps are all very easy, but I’ve still written them out to make it very clear.
- Give each Kid their very own clothes hamper. The best hampers are laundry baskets. The same basket that takes the clothes TO the washing machine, brings the clean clothes back to the bedroom. (My kids keep their baskets in their closet. The baskets have changed from the picture below, but I still put their names on it.)
- Assign each kid a laundry day. (I’ve tried multiple kids on one day and different days for each kid – both work well depending on family schedules.)
- On laundry day, do a quick look through of the basket to decide if something needs a different wash type than “normal”. Turn things outside right if you want. Look for stains*. (My kids are in charge of this part themselves and bringing it to the laundry room.)
- Wash the entire load of clothes, all colors, by adding a Color Catcher** to the load and then dry. (No need to add these if the clothes are the same colors.)
- Wash the clothes that need a delicate cycle, if needed. (I wash most all of my kids clothes on normal and dry on low heat, so this is rarely needed. Sometimes just a fluffy Easter dress or Halloween costume makes it into the pile. I wash things with sequins or embroidery inside out to protect the pretty stuff.)
- Fold clothes into basket and put away – all in the same place. (Just 1 person’s clothes are so easy to put away!)
*Dealing With Stains
Sometimes there are stubborn stains, but most of the time I just use regular Liquid Laundry detergent on stains and it works 99% of the time!
My process: I separate stained clothes when I sort, and bring it with me to the washing machine. I just squirt a little detergent on each stain and throw it in the wash.
My favorite Liquid Laundry detergents from Shaklee (extra concentrated so a little goes a long way). They have an unscented and a lightly scented version – I like both. I’ve used these for almost 6 years now! I switched when regular detergent was giving my daughter a constant skin rash. I use everything in THIS laundry & cleaning kit.
**Using Color-Catching Sheets
Mixing the colors is the thing that most people tell me gives them anxiety at first. I think the most convincing argument for them is that my mom now uses them constantly. My mom is a laundry-master and she actually converted to MY WAY! What?!?!
I’ve tried every brand and honestly just go with the best deal, because I’ve had success with all of them. (Definitely read the box with any directions or manufacturer’s warning. Like, sometimes I add an extra sheet for brand new dark wash jeans or new bright red clothes … or I wash them alone.)
The last pack I bought were on Amazon because it is cheaper than the grocery store right now. I check for price changes occasionally and switch when it makes sense. These were the last ones I bought >>>
You don’t have to do it the same-old-way!
Seriously, the easiest way to do kids’ laundry can be simple. Does my way make you nervous?!
With all the steps so much easier, you can break them up into parts. Throw a quick load in before dinner, put it in the dryer after dinner and fold/put away before bedtime. None of the steps take that long!
Quick Summary of How I Wash MY clothes:
I separate my clothes by HOW they are washed. I usually wash my clothes on 2 settings: delicate and hand-wash. I mix colors in my loads and use a color catcher. I hang dry everything besides pajamas and garden/painting clothes.
Read more about how I do adult laundry and all about the different cycles >>> Make Laundry Easy: Laundry Sorting Groups, Wash Cycles, and Sew Your Own Laundry Bags
And more … I Write A Lot About Laundry
Seriously, a lot, so I’ve chosen a few of my favorites.
- How To Kill The Laundry Monster
- Beyond Killing the Laundry Monster – Tips for Maintaining Laundry
- (oldie but goodie) Handling Kitchen Laundry
- Creating a Cleaning & Laundry Schedule (How To Have A Perfectly Clean House … or something like that.)
Here’s to easy and non-overwhelming laundry in your future!
From my home to yours,
Jenny @ FamilyBees says
Great tips! I had a system that worked well before I had three kids, but having that 5th person in the house threw a kink in it! 🙂 I was doing one load every day, and had the loads assigned to the days of the week (so, I always did our whites on Mondays, the kids’ whites on Tuesdays, etc.). I did sort by whites, colors, and reds, but I never combined kids’ laundry with adults’. My 2 older boys share a room, so I did theirs together. Anyway… the one-load-a-day schedule quit working after the baby arrived. Well, to be honest, it quit working way before that because I rarely felt like actually doing a load every day, especially when I was pregnant. It did work well when I kept up with it, though. I’ve been trying to figure out a new way to do it. I’m definitely going to give my two older boys their own baskets. They’ve been sharing a darks basket and a whites basket, but they almost never put their laundry IN the baskets, and then they fight about whose fault it is that the laundry is all over their bedroom floor. They need their own baskets so they can each take responsibility. My oldest (12) has started doing his own laundry, but it’s hard when he has to dig through all of his brother’s clothes. This will help! I’m not sold on the color catchers, but I might be willing to try them again. Every time I’ve used one in the past, I had color transfer onto other clothes. I have never really had a problem with that when I didn’t use a color catcher, and it has only happened when I did, so I felt like they were actually causing it. I don’t know what to think about that. Anyway… thank you for all the tips! 🙂
I obviously haven’t had that problem, so I’m not really sure. Sorry!
i am going to try it. You always have great ideas! Just curious why you hang dry everything?
It just seems to keep my clothes feeling nicer. And I want to wear my clothes for a few years at least, so I don’t want gradual shrinkage.
What about laundry with a baby? I do laundry all the time. Any tips for how you made it easier when your children were babies?
I would do it (and have done it) the exact same way, I just washed a few times a week (or after a BIG mess) rather than once a week.
I did baby laundry separate. Kept a dishpan with water and detergent in the laundry sink to soak all the gross laundry as it accumulated. Dumped the pail in the washer on wash day (already had detergent in it) and ran the washer – worked well for me – no carrot, poop or other stains ever set
That’s one way to do it! Awesome.
Are you saying your kids combine all colors and whites into one load?
Rachel Smith says
I love color catcher sheets- but I believe that they have caused damage a few times when I accidentally dried them with the load they were in. There were bleach type marks on the colored fabrics (& I do not use or have bleach). I wonder if others have had this problem.
That hasn’t been my experience, but I’d google it and see if that is common or a coincidence?? Maybe the type of washer/dryer somehow plays a part?
We’ve done this for many years – one tip:
We have a “stain stick” on the bathroom counter. It’s like a glue stick that you rub on a stain to pretreat it (best invention ever!)
They do this before their clothes land in the basket!!!
Great idea! And finding something that consistently works for you always feels good.
My kids recently asked if they could do something similar. This is what we do. On their day they strip their beds and grab their towels ( everyone has their own color so I know who left theirs on the floor) and carry all their laundry down stairs to the laundry room. They sort their clothes: colors in the washer, whites into a big white hamper. They start their colors load. I rotate from there for the two in public school, but the two homeschooling rotate their own. When the clothes are dry, they take the clothes to their room and fold and put away their own. I wash whites (mostly socks, rags, and underwear) and adult clothes every two to three days depending on my schedule.
Sounds like you’ve got a good thing going!
Duh! Best idea ever, why haven’t I been doing this? I even use the sheets when I need to. I tried it for my first time and got all my laundry done in 1 day without it all over the bed where the kids could destroy it and make me refold over and over. Thanks for the validation that I can give up my old way and spend 14 cents a load to save hours of time.
Yes! Worth every penny!
I’ve had color catchers fail at least twice, even when adding two of them. I’ll stick to sorting.
That’s terrible to hear. When I wash new jeans, I usually wash them separate for a while. But the time savings over time has been so worth it!
I still like to sort. Slick clothing rubbing on knit fabric is not good. Towels and sheets together not good. My clothing lasts longer I believe due to sorting, sorry 😐
I’ve been doing this for YEARS. There have been a few mishaps of new jeans washed with white shirts that even a color catcher doesn’t survive … but it has been worth it. All of that time-savings for me is SO worth it.
I also don’t do towels and sheets together, so I’m not sure where that is coming from. This article is specifically about kids’ clothes. I sort my clothes by what wash-cycle I use and how they are dried, because I do want my clothes to last a long time. You can search on the blog for lots and lots of things I’ve written about laundry.
I find using oxiclean type cleaners eliminates the need for color catchers. I started this system last year and I love it. I just use their hampers to and from, they put everything away. Saves at least 2 hours of sorting / folding time each week.
Great tip! The time savings is SO WORTH IT!!!
Carole D says
I haven’t sorted laundry in years and my white still look white. That was too much work. We all have our own basket and when it full we do our laundry. So much easier.
Thanks for sharing!
Do you have any tips for air drying? I hang dry a lot of my clothes and as my girls get older, their clothes require it more often. Finding the space is a challenge!
Since I’ve written this post, I now air dry all three of my girls shirts and dresses. I’m still putting pants, pajamas, etc. into the dryer for them. It’s become more important to do their laundry on different days so that I have room to hang things up. My current laundry room has a hanging bar, but if I ever move to a house with a smaller laundry room again, I will invest in the space saving ways of hanging laundry in the laundry room, like one of these: http://amzn.to/2CJX0mE or http://amzn.to/2CKtuhH
I hope that helps! Girl laundry is definitely the most time-consuming, and in the next 2 years, I’ll have 3 teenage girls. Yikes!!
Thank you so much for the reply! My laundry room is very similar in size from the one you have in this particular post—it’s a 2018 goal to update it and get it more functional! Yes, I’ll have an official teen girl in a month and another in two years! Yikes! When did that happen??? I have been secretly doing laundry in the way you described for years—thanks for the validation!
Seriously, weren’t they just babies yesterday?! I don’t tend to get obsessive about milestones for my kids, but this whole teenage thing is honestly freaking me out. I keep asking my 12-year-olds to please not become aliens when they turn 13 and that I like them how they are! lol