10 tips for a no-stress laundry routine
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I have joked that as a mom my life revolves around food and clothes. But it seems so very true. I spend lots of time making food, shopping for food, washing clothes, folding clothes, making sure everyone has clothes that fit, cleaning out outgrown clothes and so on. It is a cycle that repeats time and again. So I’m all for figuring out ways to make these jobs easier. Through the years, we have nailed down a laundry routine that works well for our family of four.
When it comes to routines, the simpler the better. Just like our family has other routines in place to make life easier, laundry needs some sort of routine as well. While I can often just stick with how I’ve been doing things for years, my husband has a great mind for being efficient and coming up with better ways to do things. He gave me some suggestions for the laundry, and I gave them a try. Between his suggestions and my own, we now have a laundry routine in place that keeps the laundry from getting out of control.
1. Buy multiple laundry baskets.
One of the best ways we’ve streamlined laundry is by having multiple laundry baskets. I keep two of them side-by-side in the laundry room for my kids to use. They use one for their darks (clothes) and one for their whites (mainly towels and wash cloths). Their bedrooms are right beside the laundry room, so they can easily take their clothes in there after changing or bathing. (And we have worked through some phases where they left dirty clothes on their floors and had consequences as a result.)
Because my husband and I get dressed in our closet and ready in our own bathroom, which is away from the laundry room, I have two additional baskets for us. I keep one in our closet for darks and one in our bathroom closet for whites.
The goal is to have the baskets where they are needed and organized so the laundry is pre-sorted ahead of time. I love these 19-inch square Sterilite laundry baskets. They hold one load of laundry, so I can easily tell when it’s time to put in a load to wash. I keep five baskets total. That gives me an extra basket in play for transporting laundry to fold while still having the other baskets in place to collect dirty laundry.
2. Keep laundry supplies handy.
I love storing things where I need to use them. The laundry room is no exception. I have front loader machines, so I have storage drawers underneath them. When I had top loaders, I had a shelf above the washer and dryer for supplies. Of course you need laundry soap and fabric softener, if you use it.
I like Tide Pods 4-in-1 with Febreze. To make my life even easier, I have them set up as a subscription through Amazon, so I get two containers every four months. It’s the cycle that works for my family and I don’t even have to worry about running out of laundry detergent.
But, I keep more than detergent and fabric softener in the laundry room. I also have a pair of scissors for errant threads or tag clipping in the laundry room. I also store a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide beneath my washing machine. Peroxide is the BEST for removing blood stains. Spray (or pour) some onto blood spots. Let it set until the fizzing stops. Add a bit more to see if it starts fizzing again. If it doesn’t, then you’re good to go. If it does, then just repeat.
I also keep a bottle of Dawn Powerwash dish soap in my laundry room. While I’ve been using Dawn dish soap to remove laundry stains for a few years now, my mom suggested I try the Dawn Powerwash a few months ago. It is totally worth it! With regular Dawn, I would pour some on the stain and then add water and scrub. With the Dawn Powerwash, I spray it on the stain and usually it’s good to go. If it’s a set-in stain, then sometimes I use a denture toothbrush I picked up at Dollar Tree to scrub it a bit. But I almost never have to do that. Game changer! This works even on stains that you washed and dried because you missed them the first time around.
3. Hang up your clothes as you take them out of the dryer.
If I’m touching clothes to take them out of the dryer, then I might as well hang them up while my hands are on them. I have a pole in my laundry room where I keep hangers and then hang clothes to finish drying. Most of the time, I dry them about 75% of the way and then let them air dry the rest of the way. But either way, hanging them up as they come out of the dryer works best. You’re not moving them as much. They don’t usually wrinkle. And they are ready to go to your closet.
Do I ever leave clothes hanging in the laundry room for a couple of days? Yes. It happens, but it’s easy enough to move them to closets at least before you start your next load!
And in order to have the needed hangers in the laundry room, I have an area in my closet where we put empty hangers when we take clothes off of them. So when I am ready to wash, I grab the stack of empty hangers to go to the laundry room. My son doesn’t have most of his clothes hanging up, but my daughter has many hanging up now and she’s been working on getting her empty hangers into the laundry room as well.
4. Buy the same color of towels and wash cloths.
A few years ago, I made the switch to all white towels and wash cloths. I’m so glad I did. Now there is no sorting towels to wash. I don’t have to worry about white towels getting dingy or dark ones getting faded. Everything is white, so it all goes into the same load together with some bleach. Easy, peasy!
If you prefer dark towels and wash cloths, then go for it. I literally asked for white towels for Christmas a few years ago. But you could also make the switch gradually (unless you have the budget to go out and buy new towels all at once). I’ve also ordered them on Black Friday or other times there are good sales going on. You can use your old towels for household chores and cleaning or donate them to a local animal rescue center.
5. Get your family involved.
I know some families have each kiddo responsible for their own laundry, but I don’t like that system for us. First, I want to be in control of the laundry room to avoid piles forming because someone is busy. Second, my youngest is only 8 and not yet ready to be fully responsible for his clothes. Third, I spend hard-earned money on clothes, and I don’t want to see them get messed up by being washed improperly or not pre-treated when they need to be.
Instead, we use a family teamwork approach to laundry. I generally am the one who does the washing and drying (not always). But I usually host a “laundry party” once a week where we all hang out on my bed and fold clothes and/or towels then put them away. Now that my kids are both older, I no longer put away their clothes. They are responsible for transporting them to their room and expected to put them away in their drawers or hang in their closets.
Over the summer, my daughter was interested in doing laundry, so she wrote out directions for how to wash clothes and left it in the laundry room to refer to. A list of directions is a great idea for kids learning how to do laundry. We used a small canvas from the Dollar Tree to put our instructions on, so it’s sturdy enough not to get easily crinkled.
6. Wash as needed instead of on a schedule.
My grandma washed clothes every Monday and ironed every Tuesday. I have tried having certain days scheduled for laundry, but it just hasn’t worked as well for me. So our laundry routine is more when laundry needs washed, we wash it. If I see the baskets are full, then I know it’s time to do a load. My husband does that, too, and my daughter has a couple of times as well.
It just works easier for our family and puts less pressure on me to make sure I get laundry done on a certain schedule in the midst of everything else I juggle. Some weeks I do multiple loads in one day and other weeks, I spread the loads out over a few days. It just depends on the day, the amount of laundry and what else I have going on.
7. Keep a small basket for pretreats and/or delicates.
One of the problems I needed to address with our laundry routine was what to do with clothes that needed pre-treated or washed on delicate. Previously, I would put them on the floor beside the laundry basket. But that was bugging me. It looked messy and often resulted in those clothes getting thrown into the basket and washed with everything else.
A few months ago, I bought a small plastic basket. I put it on top of the washing machine and instructed my family to use it for items needing pre-treated or washed separately. It’s been great. I’ve used it for some dark dish towels. My daughter has put some of her lighter colored shirts in there. I’ve even pulled clothes out of the dryer, found a stain I had missed and toss them in the basket to hit them with Dawn Powerwash before I re-wash them.
8. Set a timer on your phone to remember your laundry.
My washer and dryer both have signals that can sound when they finish. However, I get distracted with work and mom stuff. If I set an alarm on my phone, though, I don’t forget to switch out laundry. The alarm helps me remember to hang up clothes from the dryer before they get wrinkled. I’m a big fan of using alarms to keep myself on task!
9. Have enough clothes to last 5 to 7 days.
I don’t like the feeling of scrambling around to get clothes washed and dried so one of us has what we need for the next day. Though I usually do laundry a couple of times a week, having enough clothes for each of us to get through five to seven days helps keep the laundry scramble from happening.
For example, I noticed a couple of months ago that my daughter seemed to always be running out of clean leggings, even though I hadn’t changed up my laundry routine. Then it hit me. Three days a week, she was wearing two pairs of leggings per day thanks to working out at the gym. I bought an additional three-pack of her favorite black leggings, and our problem was solved.
10. Fold clean laundry on your bed.
This sounds like an odd laundry routine tip, but it helps us. Let me explain. I used to fold laundry in my living room. Sometimes I watched a show while I folded (I still do that!). Then I put the laundry back in the basket, and it sat in my living room for a couple of days.
Now, I fold my laundry on my bed. I need my bed every night, so I have to put the laundry away in order to sleep. I do have my kids put away their own laundry and will tell them it’s on my bed. We also lie across my bed to pray and read together before bed, so the laundry has to be put away for that to happen.
Even if it isn’t your bed, folding your laundry somewhere that you need to keep cleaned off to use works as a motivator to make sure the clean laundry actually gets put away!