The most tedious laundry time is not the actual washing and drying; Loading a washing machine and pushing the “start” button is really pretty simple! No… the dreaded part is what follows: the sorting, folding, and putting away. Each family member has a pile of shirts, a pile of pants, a pile of pajamas, a pile of socks… you get the idea. You then go into a dozen different drawers to put all of those tiny piles away, knowing that after all the work is done, you will have just as much laundry again tomorrow. Laundry is a necessary job, but can be a thankless one with very little feeling of accomplishment!
Allow me to share a laundry method I began several years ago, that has largely eliminated the tedium of laundry, and greatly increased my overall efficiency. The gist of it can be summed up in two rules:
- Each person in our family gets their laundry done only once a week
- We only wash laundry for two people at a time.
Until wash day, we have one hamper for every two people. I use tall, narrow plastic ones (Rubbermaid or similar) because they hold a lot and are easy to fit in the bedrooms. Iron Man and I have our laundry day on Monday, the two older boys have Tuesday, the two older girls have Wednesday, and the littlest two have Thursday. We typically do two loads each day: a load each of lights and a load of darks. If there is an excessive amount on a day, we’ll do a third load of whites. Towels are tossed in with the light or white clothing of that day, and sheets are done on the sheet owner’s laundry day. Sometimes we have to do a load of towels and washcloths on a Friday or Saturday if we are running low.
Benefits to this system include:
- Efficiency: When the clothes come out of the dryer, we only have to sort clothes among two people, and then it all goes into one room to be put away. Each child helps with laundry on “their” laundry day. This has made laundry a breeze in my home. It’s actually easier to do laundry now, with eight family members than it used to be with just three or four, even though the actual volume of wash has increased significantly.
- Education: This system gives me the opportunity to devote individual time with each child in teaching them about doing laundry. I start involving the children in helping from the age of two or three, by having them fold washcloths. By the time they are four or five, they can assist with sorting the laundry by color for washing, as well as helping to fold and put clothes away. By age seven, they can do all these tasks almost entirely on their own. My four oldest children (ages 4-9) do their laundry almost entirely by themselves on their laundry day, working together with their laundry pal.
- Accomplishment: I also have a feeling of accomplishment that was missing before. Even though I will have just as much laundry the next day, it feels good to know that I am done with someone’s laundry for a whole week!
A large amount of time could be spent on matching up socks. Here are a few tips that have greatly simplified this process in our family:
- We limit the types of socks everyone owns. Each child owns only two sock types: all matching white, and all matching black.
- No person’s socks match anyone else’s socks. For example… one son might have white socks with a gray stripe at the toes, while the other son has a red stripe. Two piles of boys socks: Gray Stripe and Red Stripe. All the gray stripe socks match each other, and all the red stripe socks match. No tedious process of matching up socks