My Laundry System: Tips & Hacks –> 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%.
Watch the Laundry System Video Here (or read about it below!):
(Or watch this video on YouTube here.)
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 :)
3 Laundry System 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:
Step 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.
PARE DOWN 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!!!
Here is a trick to simplify a child’s wardrobe in 10 min (it works GREAT!!):
(Or watch this video on YouTube here.)
My husband and I now have only two 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 (and we don’t miss any of the extras!). 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 :)
DITCH THE 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!).
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 white ones. I then got rid of all but a few pair of dress socks or other patterned favorites.
Now it is quick and easy to find pairs in the baskets…I’ll explain more below.
Step 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.
ADD 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.
GIRLS’ ROOM (ages 6 & 8):
I started with our daughters’ 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, 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, bankers boxes or these canvas bins REALLY WELL.
Because I wasn’t sure if this system would work for sure, in the beginning I just spray painted boxes that we had around. Those cardboard boxes lasted for 3 YEARS! We only recently updated them with this canvas bins from Walmart ($2.97 each). This new system doesn’t have to cost much!
I also made labels for each box with a picture and stuck them on so that everyone in our family would know what goes in each. The right side is for our oldest daughter and the left for our youngest.
Oh, and their dresses get hung to the sides of their shirts.
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 their own laundry away.
>> 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 TWO BOYS’ CLOTHES (ages 3 & 5):
Most often, these two don’t get dressed in their bedroom.
So I decided to put baskets ($7 each from Target, although these White Baskets would also work well) in the laundry room.
Because I have simplified their wardrobes, all of their everyday clothes easily fit in one basket. And when it is time for them to get dressed nothing looks wrinkly despite not being folded.
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 girl socks, and one for the boys’ 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.
Tom has a bin dedicated to socks for him (I toss them in unfolded) and my socks go in my top drawer. I fold mine as they come out of the dryer, but I seem to wear the least amount, so this doesn’t take much time!
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
Unlike the kids, we actually need to fold most of our laundry. However, I did find a way to avoid some folding (the biggest time saver) with him, as well.
I put three bins from Target on the top shelf in our laundry room. One each for: white under shirts, underwear, and socks.
I wasn’t sure if my husband would be on board with this system, he can be kind of particular about his clothes. But after a few weeks he was so glad not to have laundry baskets strewn about the house, that he didn’t mind his t-shirts and underwear piled in a bin.
3. The NO EXCUSES Rule
The final step to my new laundry system was the “No Excuses” rule.
Here is how it works when I do a load of laundry now:
When I remove it from the dryer, I distribute socks to the sock baskets in the laundry room and then grab all of the laundry in my arms and distribute it to its respective bedrooms. If I have time, I put all of the kids clothes into their boxes and baskets right away, but if I don’t, I put it on the bed in the bedroom.
The “No Excuses” rule is that if there is clean laundry on your bed it MUST BE PUT AWAY before you go to bed. So, if there is laundry on our daughters’ beds, whoever puts them to bed for the night is responsible for quickly distributing their clothes to the proper boxes in their closet. It literally takes less than a minute.
If there is laundry on our bed, I usually end up folding it quick before I go to bed, this usually takes about two minutes per load (especially since a good portion of my husband’s clothes go unfolded into baskets, too).
In the beginning it took a little discipline, especially if we would get home late. But now it is just a habit and not having clothes everywhere is SO WORTH IT!
Plus, not having to sort through mounds of clothes on the floor in all of the different bedrooms trying to decipher what is clean and what is dirty has saved tons of time.
This has been life-changing
I mentioned it before, but this new system has completely changed my attitude towards laundry. I no longer dread it or feel bitter about how time-consuming it is, or get frustrated at the fact that it is never done.
And, I understand that these specific systems won’t work for every family. Our kids are still young, so their clothes are pretty easily contained by diaper boxes and baskets. We’re also fortunate not to have to worry about dry cleaning and have pretty decent sized closets in each bedroom for storage.
However, hopefully there are a few ideas that you can apply to your house.
Have any great laundry tips? PLEASE share them below!
Looking for more tips to help you simplify your house?
>> The Trick to Simplify Your Child’s Wardrobe in 10 Minutes!
>> Minimalism & Kids: Simple tips for happy kids (and parents!)
>> How to Declutter Without Making a Bigger Mess
>> Kitchen Declutter & Decorate (Thrift store finds & favorite tips)