Home By Dawn The Laundry System that changed my life!

Much like dishes, laundry is one of those chores that is never actually done. Somewhere, six people from our house are dirtying an entire outfit.

How I literally cut the time it takes me to do laundry from start to finish in half (and why I got rid of ALL of our laundry baskets!)Staying on top of the laundry has always been tiring and defeating for me. So when I was pregnant with our fourth baby and anticipating even more laundry, I decided we needed to make some changes.

So here is the story of how I cut the time it takes me to do laundry (from start to finish) by at least 50%.

The best parts?

1) I no longer dread doing laundry. I’m not overstating when I say that it has been life-changing…seriously!

2) My husband even noticed the improvement! After a couple of months he said:

“I feel like all of our bedrooms are staying a lot cleaner(!)”

*Please note: This is just what worked for our family of six, with four kids age five and under. It won’t work the same for everyone, but hopefully you can find a few ideas to fit your family’s needs :)

 

–>Main steps (all explained below!):

1) Pare down

2) Stop folding! (this is where the majority of the time savings comes from)

3) House-wide “NO EXCUSES” rule
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A little humor before I get started, this is the motto that hangs in our laundry room:

GREAT article-- how to cut the time it takes you to do laundry in half!

 >> Due to popular demand, you can get this picture for FREE, just click here for this Laundry Art Print!

 

Ok, now down to business…

Here is how I literally cut the time it takes me to do laundry by 50% or more:

1. Pare down

I quickly realized that we had TOO MUCH laundry in our house…closets and dressers were all filled to the max, so when it all got dirty the pile of laundry was monstrous.

Plus it just felt like there were always clothes EVERYWHERE. On the floor in the bathroom. On the bedroom floors. In the living room waiting to be folded. In laundry baskets throughout the house. We just had too much and it was nearly impossible to manage.

How I literally cut the time it takes me to do laundry from start to finish in half!

CLOTHES:

When I would switch out the kid’s clothes from season to season, or pack away outgrown clothes, there were always items at the bottoms of their drawers that had never been worn. They simply had more clothes than they ever wore.

Similarly, our bedroom closet was STUFFED with clothes, only a small percentage of which we actually wore. It took a couple of months, and few trips through each room, getting rid of more each time, but slowly we began to get rid of clothes we just didn’t need anymore…AND IT FELT REALLY GOOD!!!

LINENS:

My husband and I now have only four bath towels that we use, and each child has one. We have one extra set of sheets for each bed in our house and two guest towels. Similarly, I cut down the number of wash cloths, dish cloths and towels.

–> TIP <—————————–

If you are hesitant about getting rid of clothes and linens, or just aren’t sure about how many you ACTUALLY  need, pack away extras in the garage or basement. Pull out extras if you need them, and after a few months, sell or donate what is still in storage…YOU DON’T NEED THEM :)
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LAUNDRY BASKETS:

We also got rid of ALL of our laundry baskets. Why? Because they always ended up in bedrooms half full of clean clothes, half piled with who knows what kind of unfolded laundry, and NEVER EMPTIED and put away. They just created chaos.

Fortunately, we have the benefit of having our laundry room on the same level as our bedrooms. If yours isn’t as conveniently located, you may want to keep around ONE basket. But I find that I can carry a load of laundry in my arms and quickly distribute it to it’s home without using a basket (more on this below!).

 

SOCKS:

Matching socks was another task that I just never got to. Inevitably, I’d be sorting through a basket of socks looking for a matching pair for each child as we were trying to get out the door.

So, I finally took the plunge and replaced all of my kid’s socks with matching ones. Our 18 month and 3 year old can wear the same size (the white crew socks) and our 5 year old got new socks with purple toes.

This makes matching socks a breeze!

I also purchased two packages of black crew socks that they all wear when we anticipate them getting dirty, like playing outside or going to my parent’s farm. All of their old socks were donated (except a couple pair of dress socks for the girls that I keep hidden away).

Total Cost to replace all of their socks: $38 –WELL WORTH IT!

How I literally cut the time it takes me to do laundry from start to finish in half (and why I got rid of ALL of our laundry baskets!)

 

2. STOP Folding

When evaluating what it was about the laundry process that annoyed me so much, by far the biggest pain was folding. It NEVER got done. 

There was always a pile of clean laundry on the couch that needed to be folded and a basket full in our room.

So I started to think about what ACTUALLY needed to be folded…and it turns out that at least half of it doesn’t need to be.


Laundry-Tips-Baskets

 

BASKETS, BOXES & CONTAINERS:

So I started adding baskets, boxes and containers into our bedrooms to hold laundry that didn’t need to be folded or hung up.

 

GIRL’S ROOM (ages 3 & 5):

I started with our daughter’s room because it always drove me nuts when they would pull ALL of the folded laundry out of their closet to find the one piece they were looking for.

Their closet is kind of weird shaped, really deep and not very wide (and no overhead light, excuse the poor photos). However, it is just wide enough to accommodate one of those wire shelf racks you always see when the dorm items appear at Target and Walmart. The shelf accommodates diaper boxes and banker’s boxes REALLY WELL.

Because I wasn’t sure if this system would work for sure, I just spray painted these boxes that we had around. However, it has been almost a year now, and they have held up really well. 

How I literally cut the time it takes me to do laundry from start to finish in half (and why I got rid of ALL of our laundry baskets!)

I also made labels for each box with a picture and glued them on so that everyone in our family would know what goes in each. The left side is for our oldest daughter and the right for our youngest.

Oh, and their dresses get hung in my son’s closet, he has plenty of extra room :)

What I REALLY like about this system:

>> The amount of time this has saved me NOT FOLDING is INCREDIBLE

>> My husband and the girls can easily put away their own laundry

>> It helps me tell when thy are starting to have too many clothes again.

>> If they pull out all of their clothes in search of an item, it can all be quickly put away.

>> Frequently asked: Surprisingly, no, their clothes don’t look wrinkled when they put them on (really!).

 

OUR SON’S BEDROOM:

Basically, I came up with solutions for each room. While he has a closet in his room, I liked the idea of having his clothes out for easy access.

So I decided to put baskets ($7 each from Target, although these White Baskets would also work well) on his changing table (it hasn’t been used for changing for quite awhile and this is where piles of unfolded laundry always ended up anyway).

 

How I literally cut the time it takes me to do laundry from start to finish in half (and why I got rid of ALL of our laundry baskets!)

 

A concern of mine was that his room would look messy with all of his clothes sitting out, but I don’t think that it does, and I love how easily I can grab clothes for him.

 

SOCKS, SOCKS, SOCKS:

Another pain of our previous laundry system, was what to do with unmatched socks. Like I mentioned above, I first simplified our family’s socks by replacing all of my kid’s socks with matching ones.

So I added two baskets  above our dryer in our laundry room, one for adult socks, and one for the kids’ socks. Because they only have three types of socks, it isn’t a big deal for them all to be mixed in one basket.

The socks don’t get matched right away, but I’ll generally grab the baskets every week or so and match while we’re watching TV.

How I literally cut the time it takes me to do laundry from start to finish in half (and why I got rid of ALL of our laundry baskets!)

 

What I like about this system:

>> I really like having all of the kids’ socks in one spot. I can quickly grab three pairs of socks when we’re getting ready to head out the door (again, our laundry room is centrally located, so this works for us :)

>> In the event that I don’t get the adult socks matched, my husband knows exactly where to look in the morning to find his socks.

>> No more sock baskets floating around the house waiting to be matched

 

MASTER BEDROOM:

Finally, our room.

–> Continue Reading about the Master Bedroom & No Excuses Rule –>

 

 




Author
Dawn
A graphic designer & marketer by trade, I left the traditional working world in 2012 to stay home with my four kids. I love being home, but am glad to still have opportunity to design professionally and for fun and to share my ideas here from time to time. A country girl at heart, I live with my husband and four kids (5, 3, 2 and infant) just outside of the Twin Cities and only a few miles from my parent’s farm.
44 replies to this post
  1. I agree with simplifying your clothing. I am glad this system works for you, but I couldn’t just toss my clothes in a box without folding. I got a folding board from Amazon that helps me fold my clothes and towels faster and they fit in drawers and cabinets better. I can see what I have now and there’s more room.

    • I totally get that Deena, I didn’t know how well it would work because of it looking and feeling messy. However, it’s mostly the kids’ clothes that don’t get folded, which are knit. If they have anything that requires ironing I hang it in their closet. For now it works for us, but down the road when the kids are old enough to help with folding my hope is to revise our system.

  2. I HATE doing laundry! I inevitably never get every step done before its time to start laundry again. As we speak there are 4 piles of clean laundry folded and sitting on top of my dryer. I loved it when you said “right now there are 6 people somewhere getting an entire outfit dirty.”

    I want to try this but there’s a step I’m a little uncertain on…so you take one load of laundry in your arms, like a load of everyone’s white clothes jumbled together, and you walk around to the different closets picking out the pieces from the pile in your arms that go in each basket? Sorry if this seems like a no-brainer apparently I need very detailed directions! Haha

    • Yes, you are exactly right :) If I’m in a hurry I put it on the owner’s bed and go to the next room…it literally only takes a minute per load, BUT all of our bedrooms are on the same floor, so that helps to make it practical :)

  3. Hi there. I really had a good giggle when I read this. I can’t believe that washing becomes such a huge chore in some households. I have family members who have laundry issues. Their bathrooms, bedrooms, bath tubs, lounges and dining areas are always loaded with either dirty laundry, or laundry that has been washed but just not folded and packed away. We are currently 4 adults in our home (hubby, myself and two daughters aged 23 & 26). We have 2 laundry baskets – one for hubby and myself, and one for the girls. The girls and I wash laundry at least once a week, but should the baskets fill up before the weekend, I will do a load or 3 during the week too. Laundry goes up on the line in the mornings and in the afternoons it comes down, immediately folded up and packed away. We don’t have any laundry lying around, clean or dirty and this really works for me. I have been told by hubby that I suffer from OCD, but honestly, I can’t deal with knowing there are piles of laundry waiting to be done. When I start, I don’t finish until all the laundry baskets are EMPTY. What I do like about you post are the black steel racks you have in your girls cupboards. Here in South Africa, normally the shelving for folded items are few and they are narrow but high. So if we could use something like those black steel racks and remove the current shelves, we may be able to fit more racks in than we have shelves, creating more space to pack single piles of clothing into.

    Oh dear, the work of the lady of the house. Does our day ever end when it comes to cleaning and tiding in the home?

  4. I LOVED THIS DAWN!!!! Life changing! I had to add the link to a post I just wrote about how to make more money
    http://surfingandsequins.com/2016/01/02/create-more-time/

    (guess what the amount of time I will save from not folding will be a vacation next year, I should invite you!) My son even read it at 9 and said “Why don’t all Mom’s read this?” It should be handed out at the hospital when we give birth!! Thanks for the wisdom. Can’t wait to read everything here!

  5. Just came across your article on Pinterest today – great tips! Our family of 6 will definitely be changing up our laundry system. The link to your awesome printable no longer works, are you still willing to share it?

  6. This is a great post! I’ve seen other similar posts that include the “no folding” idea for kids clothes. Totally on board with paring down on all clothes and linens in the house!! However, I have mixed feelings about not folding. I think that the time saved in not folding kids clothes ends up being time spent later, looking for the particular clothes they want to wear because they’re all jumbled up! My personal compromise is to not fold the kids clothes as carefully as I used to. Just a quick fold in half both ways and done, doesn’t have to be Pinterest perfect! I also roll their socks and have a separate bin for single socks, so there’s no hunting for a matching pair.

  7. Folding laundry has always been the hardest household chore for me minus meal planning. The rest of the laundry system was perfect. It goes like this: I have one laundry basket in the bathroom closet that everyone puts dirty laundry into. When my husband gets up in the morning, he carries the basket to the laundry room. When I get up, I start the first load (sometimes the only load) and I have one of my sons return the basket to the closet. At lunch, I switch it over to the dryer. The problem came when I took it out of the dryer and dropped it onto the love seat. Our problem was solved, however, when our 9 year old at the time asked for a household job she could be paid for on top of her regular unpaid chores. The lightbulb went off and she currently folds our laundry every single day and puts it away. It takes her around 20 minutes and she loves having the job. When she outgrows this job, I will look into doing it your way. Thanks for the ideas!

    • Oh that sounds like an awesome system that you have developed! And really good encouragement to find a system that works for your family :) I CANNOT wait until our kids are old enough to help

  8. As you talked about socks, I thought of something that totally made my life easier! My Husband and Son both wear the same type socks (crew socks), unfortunately they hated having them mixed up (now how do I know whose was whose?) I now buy socks with different patterns on the tops, one set has thin ribs, the other has wide ribs. No more worries!

  9. So many people on Facebook are asking this question. Where did you get the framed, brightly lettered picture about laudry and nudists? I’ve looked all over and I can’t find one like it, although I found a lot of letters to go on the wall, etc with that saying. THANKS

  10. Since our daughter’s feet got long enough to wear medium-size socks (she’s nearly 11 now) and my husband and I have relatively small feet, I started buying ONLY black sports socks. They are comfortable, always match (and if they don’t, who can tell?) and don’t need to be paired up. We have a sock bin on the bottom shelf of the closet storage system and just grab any two out of the bin in the morning. One of the best time-savers ever.

    I’ve already pared down our wardrobes, so next is getting rid of folding – thanks for breaking through that mental barrier!

  11. Awesome! I did the same, but with everything in my house.I paired down on clothing and dishes, (sippy) cups and even the kids toys! I don’t do much laundry anymore, the kitchen is always clean and with toys I did a rotating system where I have 3 boxes and I rortate them with different toys each month….so the overall house is also cleaner! We really DON’T NEED that much stuff :)

  12. This is simply genius. I cam across this post completely by accident while procrastinating on pinterest because I have several baskets of laundry that I desperately need to fold. And I absolutely dread it!!! I have 4 kids under 6, and it never ends!!!! Plus my 3 year old twins decide several nights a week to pull all their folded clothING out of their drawers and throw them all over their room. Which leads to more dreaded hours of folding that could be spent doing other things.
    My only question is, do you have chests and dressers in your bedroom now? And if so, what do you put in them?

  13. I can save you some sock time! Get 2 mesh delicates bags for each person(1 for clean, 1 for dirty). Write their name up by the zipper with a Sharpie. Put all dirty socks in the bags as you take them off. Zip it shut and wash and dry right in the bag and boom! Everyone has all their socks clean and dry in one spot with no missing matches. :)

  14. I hang everything I can … shirts, shorts, pants, sweaters, etc. Everyone has an underwear drawer and I never fold those. I have 2 towels for each person (each bathroom has 2 colors for theme, so girls and boys towels are different colors) and only one set of sheets for each bed. Kids have same size beds, so I have one extra queen set for “just in case.” The only things I fold are towels, extra blankets, dish towels and such, pajamas and I match up socks. Often I pile the laundry on my bed and make stacks according to owners. Everyone is responsible for their own folding and I do the household items (towels). Everyone is also responsible for taking their items out of the laundry room and hanging them in their closets. Wash rags are stacked, never folded.

  15. Your post was mind blowing! I have been looking for this type of organizational ideas for a while. You have great tips I’ve never heard elsewhere. (Like the whole sock part) Thank you!

  16. I love this! I can’t totally get on board with not folding shirts, but I could TOTALLY see this working for pants, pjs, sweatshirts, etc… We have sock baskets for the kiddos and I started buying the same size white socks for both of them, so we’re in pretty good shape about finding pairs now. Thanks for all the great ideas!!

  17. Such great ideas!! I LOVE the not folding and just putting them in baskets. It’s such a pain to fold EVERYTHING! There’s only 3 of us, so we don’t have anything NEAR the amount you have, but still, I hear ya! :)

  18. Oh dear. I’m not sure I could do the no folding or no baskets – our laundry is in the basement and bedrooms on the 2nd floor. I WANT to do the no folding but-but-but! LOL :) Maybe one day. I really LOVE the all-the-same-socks idea.

    Can you tell me more about how you limited the clothing? What did you decide to keep for each child? TY

  19. The clothes don’t get all wrinkled being put in bins? (Wrinkled shirts drive me batty)

    I have a wire rack in my laundry area, so I keep clothes hangers on it, then I hang the clothes as soon as they come out of the dryer. The only thing we put in a drawer here is undergarments, socks (which I don’t bother pairing as it’s just me and kiddo), pajamas, and shorts. Everything else is hung up. If I don’t do it right as it comes out of the dryer though – forget it! it’s just going to take up space on my bed for two weeks lol

  20. What a great system! I have seven kids, and the mismatched socks are definitely the thing that drives me crazy about laundry! I love the idea of just starting from scratch with all the same socks for similar sized kids. Thanks for the tips! Stopping by from the Serving Joyfully linkup.

  21. Great post! Standardizing and paring down socks is a must for laundry sanity! Your breakthrough seems to be eliminating folding. Good for you! We hang almost everything, which also cuts down on laundry time, and what does go in drawers doesn’t get folded in our house either (mostly undies and pajamas).

  22. I recently decided to only have two sets of sheets, and 6 bath towels. Several hand towels and wash cloths. It’s only my husband and I. We don’t really need more. I’m glad you shared your idea. Gives me a nudge to get on the ball and just do this.

  23. Great tips! I am doing laundry as we speak. LOL. It wasn’t too bad before but now that I have 3 children its amazing how much laundry needs to get done. Thousands of towels, clothes, sheets… These tips can definitely help my sanity :)

    If you get the time, I would love for you to share this at my weekend link party at herorganizedchaos.com.

    Thanks for sharing.

  24. What a great idea! I don’t have quite as big of a family, but without having a plan, laundry days can still be crazy, and it takes me forever to put the clothes away! I’ll be stealing some of these ideas :) I found you via the Freedom Fridays link party! :)

  25. Some great ideas! I absolutely hate doing laundry, not because of the chore itself but because of the length of time it takes me.

    I try to donate clothes every so often, but one problem I’m having is that I’ll donate a sweater because it’s been a year since I wore it…and then I find that winter comes back around and I really regret throwing out that sweater. I seem to just be moody about my clothes. One winter is all about pretty sweaters and the next is sporty hoodies. So I like your idea of putting them somewhere else and waiting until you’re absolutely sure. Then, they’re out of sight and not cluttering up the closet…but you can still change you’re mind. Definitely better than the “6 month” rule. :)

    Found you on The Pin It Party. Thanks for sharing!

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