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What’s Laundry Day???
When you have a large family, there is no such thing as a designated “Laundry Day.” Singular. One day a week.
If I were to save all of my family’s laundry for just one day each week, I would
1) not have enough hours in a single day for all of those cycles to run,
2) flood my septic system with an over-abundance of gray water, AND
3) still have to send kids places in dirty clothes because of practices, games, etc. that are more than once a week.
If you’ve got multiple kids too, then you know what I’m talking about.
So, how can you get it all done every week without laundry taking over your life? As a mom of five and wife to a 6’8″ husband whose clothes are BIG, I’m going to share my laundry strategy that has been working for me for years. And I don’t hate doing laundry even a little bit.
5 Tips To Make Doing Laundry Easier
Tip #1 Do a couple loads every day (at least most days)
There is no way around this one, logistically. If you can get into the habit of starting a load right when it can become part of your daily routine, then it doesn’t require as much thought or effort on your part.
Throw a load of laundry in when
- you get up in the morning
- you get home from work
- the baby goes down for a nap
- you finish dinner cleanup
- any other time in your daily routine
Spreading the laundry out throughout the week within your daily routine will keep it from becoming overwhelming.
Tip #2 Keep dirty clothes separated by family member
(Don’t mix Eli’s laundry with Audrey’s laundry)
Have you seen those gorgeous laundry rooms with the pretty baskets labeled “darks” and “lights” so everyone can put their dirties directly into the laundry?
Personally, I think all that sorting might kill me. No overflowing dirty clothes bins in the laundry room for me, thank you very much.
Instead, I have each person keep a basket or hamper in their own space for just their own dirty laundry. The nice thing about doing it this way is that it stays out of sight until it is time to do that person’s laundry.
It also saves time on the backend, eliminating the need to sort clean laundry by person before putting it away. All of the socks in a load belong to just one family member.
And it prevents any disputes about who should be putting the clean laundry away. If it’s Eli’s load, Eli puts it away, obvs. This leads me to Rule #3.
Tip #3 Do big kids’ laundry on the weekend (or whenever they have time in their schedule to play a large role in it)
Make sure to get the laundry process going for capable big kids when they are home and can help or even take the lead. This allows them to learn and practice an important life skill while you are available to help them if needed. And almost as important, the big kids doing their own laundry will help lighten your…ahem…load.
What Age Should Kids Start Doing Their Own Laundry?
Every family is different, but here’s what we try to encourage at our house, by age.
At 2-7 years old, kids can help sort dirty laundry, carry it to laundry room, and help put away clean clothes.
At 8-11 years old, kids can learn how to treat stains, add the right amount of detergent, and the different cycles on the washer and dryer. Depending on the kid, they might become pretty independent and reliable during this age range. Or, they might continue to need direct overseeing to make sure they don’t flood/burn down the house or turn all their clothes pink. It really depends on the child.
At 12-17 years old, kids are capable of doing the whole laundry process without help. You of course, will probably have to remind them to do it, but they should be able to handle the task. In our house, it becomes the kid’s responsibility, but they will of course ask me for help if they are too busy with school or sports or need something washed in time for an evening event.
At 18+, your child will officially be an adult and will likely move out from under your roof. I know this is hard to fathom when your kiddos are still little, and you might even be mad at me for bringing it up. But I wanted to add this age in here just as a reminder of why it’s important to teach our kids while we have them. I definitely don’t want my kids to be in a dorm room or their first apartment and feel unsure about how to do something as basic as a load of laundry. But don’t worry. We’ve got plenty of time to teach them while they are under our roof.
Tip #4 Purchase towels and bed linens in limited colors
At our house, all of our towels are white. We bought them in bulk from Costco. You may find this to be counter-intuitive since kids have a way of using a clean towel to wipe off their filth rather than using it to dry already clean body parts. Do your kids do this or is it just mine?
But, it turns out that white towels are pretty easy to maintain. OxiClean or hydrogen peroxide every once in a while does the trick to brighten them up.
Another advantage to white towels is that benzoyl peroxide will not ruin them. When you have tweens or teens using these products for acne, white towels are a great choice.
The takeaway here is that by having them all be the same color, whatever color you choose, it is easy to throw a load of them in all together whenever you notice it is needed instead of having to separate out a rainbow of colors.
Tip #5 Put clean laundry away as soon as it is done
This requires discipline on your part, but it is possibly the most important piece of advice here.
There was definitely a time early in my marriage when I thought it made sense to wait until all laundry for the day was done before putting it away. So I’d lay the clean stuff on my bed, or the dining room table, or in a basket to keep it from wrinkling until all my loads were done.
But more often than not, I’d get busy doing other things and never get around to putting it away. Sometimes, the task would become overwhelming because numerous loads of clothes had accumulated on my pile.
If you just put the load of laundry away right when it’s done, it only takes a couple minutes since it’s only one load of clothes. You also won’t have clean clothes cluttering up your space in your home, and you’ll be able to check one thing off your to-do list! So just do it!
If you naturally hate folding clothes like I used to, here are a couple things that helped turn me around.
The first move that helped me is to get a folding board. This is just a simple board that helps you fold items in a uniform size. They are used in a lot of retail stores-that’s how they get their stacks of t-shirts to look so perfect!
You can use a folding board on anything, really. I’ve used my board to fold pants, shirts, sweaters, and towels. My kids LOVE using it, which is maybe the best thing about it since it gets my helpers to do so more willingly.
The second thing that helped me get over my dislike of folding was reading the bestseller book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. There is a lot of crazy in that book, if I’m being honest, but it is very easy to take the super actionable points and put them to good use in your own home.
I learned so much about how to fold different items so they stack neatly, and how to fit them onto a shelf or into a drawer in a way that will keep them neat. This has really helped motivate me to fold clothes now, since I can do it in a way that actually looks like I know what I’m doing. Check it out, and I bet you’ll get some good tips from it, too.
*Bonus Tip* Be Flexible!
Your laundry routine will likely evolve as your family grows and progresses through various stages. Some of my family’s laundry phases have included cloth diapering, potty-training, muddy and painted toddler clothes, rocks and treasures in pockets, constant grass stains, benzoyl peroxide bleached teenage clothes, sweaty athletic uniforms, and the list goes on. In my family’s current season of life, we have a little of everything!
I hope these tips inspire you to shape up your family’s laundry routine & make things a bit easier for yourself!