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.
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
A little humor before I get started, this is the motto that hangs in our laundry room:
>> 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.
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!!!
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 :)
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!).
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
Finally, our room.