Git ‘er Done: 5 Tips for Easier Laundry

Ahh, the joys of laundry … or not.

“My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.” – Erma Bombeck

Does the thought of all the laundry you have to do overwhelm and discourage you? If so, you’re not alone.  Laundry is one of those things we tend either love or hate!

I used to hate it—but in all honesty, I don’t anymore. I love the smell of clean laundry.  And I REALLY like grabbing shirts and dresses out of the dryer before they need to be ironed!  Mmmm.  Lavender fabric softener is my new guilty pleasure. 🙂 But I won’t tell if you won’t!

No matter how you feel about this age old chore, it’s always good to feel like you’ve got the best of it instead of the other way around. No, really!  You can! It’s important.  And you don’t need a laundry “room” to be really great at getting a handle of doing laundry. In fact, I devoted a huge part of a chapter to laundry in “The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight” because I honestly believe that if we had a better system, laundry would not be such a chore.

So without further adieu, here are FIVE of my favorite laundry tips!  Let me know what your favorite tips are – if they make my next article, I’ll send you a free copy of my book.

{one}

Train your children to do laundry. I’m not kidding!  If your child is just three years old he is not too little to start training.  A three year old can put laundry in the hamper.  She can help you put the clothes into the washing machine.

So often, moms find themselves overwhelmed when a quick glance around the room reveals a much bigger issue: children who could and should be helping simply are not.

Start when they are little. By the age of eight, my kids can run both the washer and the dryer, and they can measure the detergent too.  Teens can do their own laundry. Tweens should be helping by folding the baby’s laundry.  You get the idea.  Put your kids to work!  Yes it’s more work for mom initially but the payoff is worth it, and believe me when they move out they will thank you for training them to take care of themselves and others.

{two}

Early and often. Fly Lady says, “A load a day keeps the chaos away”, and I could not agree more.

Around our house, the first load is started first thing in the morning. We often run three loads a day but two for our household of 10 is about average. Two loads a day. Kitchen towels pile up and we do them twice a week. My point is—we are doing a lot of little loads to avoid the massive laundry “day” that is sure to pile up if we don’t.

{three}

Use a system. This cannot be over-emphasized. 🙂  Systems work!  And usually, any system is better than no system!

I wrote about our system at length in my book but I can simplify it by saying that in our house, each BEDROOM has it’s own laundry basket.  Here’s how it works:

1. Child fills up his or her laundry hamper.

2. Mom or children start a load and run it through.

3. When laundry comes out of the dryer, it is immediately sorted into the basket that corresponds to the room the child is in.

This makes the CHILD responsible for his or her own laundry. It works.  BONUS: It forces the child to think about the amount of clothes they throw in the wash each day. 🙂  And I’m ALL for that!

{four}

Think before you buy!  In other words—if you have a lot of people in your house, if it wrinkles easily or if it will require extra care, maybe it’s something you should just leave in the store. Yeah. Just say “no” to more work in the laundry room!

{five)

Get caught up. Have a laundry-folding party!  In our house, when we get behind (and believe me, it happens) then my solution is to gather the troops, dump all the clothes out on the floor and have a FOLD-FEST.

The last time we needed to do this was … mmmm… two days ago.  🙂  I had been gone and we had about eight loads of laundry that needed to be folded and put away.  With my kids helping, we got it all done in just over an hour!

hint: if you need to have a fold-fest, take a washcloth, get it wet and throw it into the dryer with the clothes that are too wrinkly to wear.  Give it about ten minutes on medium heat.  Voila! No ironing!

Ready to Git ‘er done? Train your kids to help, get a system and get moving!  You’ll be glad you did!

Heidi St John Guide to Daylight

About Heidi St. John

Heidi has been married to her husband Jay since 1989. Together they have seven children and two grandsons! The St. Johns' children range in age from early elementary school to adult. They have homeschooled the kids all the way through high school. Heidi is the founder of MomStrong International, an online community of women learning to live biblically in an unbiblical world together .

17 thoughts on “Git ‘er Done: 5 Tips for Easier Laundry

  1. Once my children turned 6 they were my laundry helper until the next one turned 6 (all kids 2 years apart). They would do 95% of the work, I supervised. Upon graduating from helper they were then responsible for their own laundry. Now each one of my kids has a laundry day on our chore chart, they do all of their laundry (except whites) & bed linens. I do mine & the hubbys laundry, towels & whites. Leaves me with only about 5-6 loads a week! It is awesome!

  2. I start teaching how to sort clothes into baskets at about 2 yrs old. By the time they are around 6 they can pretty much do it all.
    Right now I have a child with CP that does the sorting, the 8 yr. old puts things into the washer then dryer, and the 11 yr old takes them from the dryer and hangs/folds. (I am the mom of 9 and used this on the older ones also)

  3. After readin your blog you already have my helpful hint. I am a mom of 4 which 2 are being homeschooled right now. My other two children are 3 yrs and a 3month old. I found with so many people in the house I do laundry Mon-Fri I try to keep weekends for family time. Everyone has their own basket. As soon as laundry is dry I fold it and place into the correct basket then the children that can put their clothes away takes their basket and return it. I found this to be very helpful and it eliminates piles to be folded.

  4. What works for me is:
    Every time I go down to the laundry room/basement, I either throw a load in the washer, dryer, or hang a load out on racks/lines; While I’m waiting for the laundry to fluff in the dryer, I remove the clothing from the racks/lines and place in a basket. All dirty laundry is sorted by color and put in separate baskets, sheets, wash cloths/rags and towels, tablecloths are all put in separate hamper; any clothing to be treated or soaked are separated. After several loads are completed and put in a basket, I separate them into each child’s piles (sections on the bed) so they are altogether. If they are the older kids, I put them in a basket and let them put them together as outfits and put them away in their rooms. For the younger kids, I put them in an extra closet until I can get time to put them together in outfits. Once they are matched up, I put them away in their rooms. I have separate under bed roll out bins for dress clothes, everyday clothes, and their play outside clothes. My kids are hard on clothing so they have actual play outside clothing that end up getting thrashed. As for socks, I have a sock drawer, that once full, we sit down and match the socks and put them away in sock bins. We also have a towel and wash cloth/rag folding time when the kids are watching movies, they can do some folding. That’s pretty much the “routine” that I have fallen into.

  5. My kids are each responsible to do the folding of their own clothes. I also have a chores list and a child has laundry duty each day. That means they have to divide the clothes into piles for each person to fold. I fold my clothes, my husbands clothes and my two year old’s clothes…as well as the towels…so when they are folding their own clothes and putting them away it makes for a lot less work.

  6. Fortunately, I have the luxury of a great laundry room. In that laundry room, I have specialized bins for my laundry (towels/sheets/undies, darks, reds, and lights/whites). My kids bring in the clothes from the bedroom/bathroom baskets and sort the clothes in appropriate bins in the laundry room. It makes it real easy for my 9 yr old to know what goes in what wash load and ensures my hubby won’t go to work with pink socks or shirts! 🙂 When the laundry comes out, I use milk crates to put their clothes in (because they stack super easy and aren’t too big, yet are adequate to hold enough children’s clothes for a day or two’s worth of laundry). The kids are each responsible for their own clothes after they come out of the dryer, though any one of us can be the one that runs the load through the wash/dry cycles.

  7. I have 6 kids and the learn how to start and load laundry around 10, at 12 you begin doing it on your own. The 3 older kids have their own baskets and a laundry day. They completely handle their own. The 3 youngers (9, 6, 4) share a basket in their room and when it’s full they bring to the laundry room. The 6 year old sorts, the 9 year old loads and I turn it on. Once it’s done, we fold it together since they are still being trained and then each puts their own away, including the 4 year old. I am left only with nine and the hubby’s as my sole responsibility 🙂 and that’s laundry 101 in the Stephenson house!

  8. I love my new found homemade laundry soap. 1. I have only spent $25.00 on laundry soap that has lasted since April and will go until at least December. 2. I use only 1 heaping tbls. per load unless very soiled. Even then I probably don’t need to. 3. I do more like 6 – 10 loads a week. 4. I took one trip to Walmart for ingredients. 5. I have not had to make an unexpected trip to the store for detergent in months. 6. Therefore I have saved time, money, gas and more money I would have spent on impulse items because I had the legitimate ‘need’ to be in the store for laundry detergent…you get the point. I/we do not need to be in the stores as much as I/we think. So I am seeking more ways to do my planning and my work ahead because it saves me at least three times that much time later.

  9. I love washing clothes. It is the folding I don’t care for. I have a laundry hamper in each bedroom. I have a schedule for which days I wash each hamper. When it is time to wash, say, my girls’ clothes, I just throw all their clothes from the hamper into the wash and turn it on in the morning. I don’t sort at all. I haven’t seen a need to, the clothes come out just fine on a warm/cold cycle. Either before lunch or at lunch I then switch it to the dryer. In the afternoon while the kids are doing their own thing or maybe while I am watching a little TV in the quiet evening I fold laundry. The biggest time saver I have is to fold and put like clothes in piles. So my daughter’s clothes I fold and pile all of my oldest daughter’s pants in one pile, shirts in another, underwear and socks in another; while my youngest daughters folded clothes go into their own piles as well. That way all I have to do is load all of the folded laundry into the basket they came out of and put them away in under 5 minutes. I think my laundry is calling me now…gotta run. 🙂

  10. Dear Annie Cowling,
    What is your laundry detergent recipe? I have a bunch of sensitive skinned people and I am curious as to the ingredients.
    Thank you!
    Sky

      1. Recipe for Homemade Laundry Soap

        (1) 4 lb. 12 oz. box Borax
        (1) 4 lb. Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
        (1) Box Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (Super Wash=Soda Ash)
        (3) Bars Fels-Naptha Soap *
        (2) Small Containers of Oxy Clean (try to get @ 3.5 lbs)

        *(3) Bars Pink Zote Soap as an Alternative to Fels-Naptha Soap instead. Probably no difference in how it cleans, but you may like the smell better and that can matter. I am still looking for a place to purchase this though I am told you can check @ Home Depot. I did not find it when I looked.
        I love the scent of the Fels Naptha, but I was so accustomed to a non-scent laundry soap that I had to buy a glass cookie jar with a lid so that the scent did not always affect the air. I love my glass jar and I keep a plastic tablespoon in the jar and I use only one scoop for every load unless very heavily soiled or smelly. So to repeat, I use one Tablespoon of this mixture per load whatever size load, and I do heap it a little but have had the same good results when I level it off.

        **The Oxy Clean is optional and may be store brand. (2 lbs. is okay).

        Method to Make:

        Start out by grating your Fels Naptha soap just like cheese you can use your hand held grater, whatever you have. **Don’t worry! The Fels-Naptha really dissolves in your washer even if you only use cold water like me.**
        Toss all of the ingredients into a five gallon bucket lined with a garbage bag. I was not lucky enough to have a bucket like that, but I had no problem just mixing it straight in the garbage bag. I closed it tightly and shook it and that was great. (This part makes your whole house smell great). Once everything is mixed, store the soap however you like.
        My first batch is only halfway gone and I made it in April 2012. I paid no more than $25 for the ingredients and I got all of them at Walmart. I can do 6 – 10 loads a week many weeks.
        I hope you love it like I do and that you will let me know if you know where to get Pink Zote Soap as I would very much like to try that next time. Sometime between February and April of next year.

  11. Here’s my stain recipe: This will get nearly every stain that I’ve encountered, and that is saying something because I have six children! Run the hottest water you can into a bucket. Add 1/4 cup dishwashing crystals, and 1/4 cup laundry “boost” (Chlorox II or OxyClean, etc.) and soak overnight (or longer if it’s a really bad stain). Voila! Nearly every stain will disappear.

  12. We use no hampers in our house. Everyone puts their dirty clothes in the open washing machine when they change. When full, the load gets ran. We do not separate anything and it gets ran in cold water. Immediately upon drying it gets folded and put away (or as soon as we can get to it.) Our one year old doesn’t put his laundry in, but he helps switch loads. Our two, five, and seven year olds help with everything else.

  13. I was reminded again of this great stain getter-outter and I share it here with you all.
    Put a good amount of baking soda on the stain, then spray/sprinkle some white vinegar over the baking soda. It will go really bubbly and smell very strongly of vinegar. Put in wash and ta-da! Stain gone!” -Toni L.

    No smell will remain – Annie C.

  14. All clothes go in laundry basket in laundry room. Wash towels/rags separate with a little bleach to get out smells. The rest of the clothes can get washed together, but I do normally do a dark or light load. I have nothing that needs ironed. I take clothes out of drier and hang up anything that I can on a pole next to drier that is separated by dividers with the kids/adults names. I have bins for pants/shorts, sock/underwear and grubbies (play clothes) that I throw the rest of the non hanging clothes clothers into out of the drier. Some of the kids share bins if they are similar gender and size. I also have bin for rags that I dump into a plastic bin under kitchen sink. Socks go in drawer under drier to be sorted later at sock party (weekly on dining room table).I only take hangup clothes to closets in rooms downstairs. None go upstairs. Kids change clothes in bathroom or laundry room downstairs. I also have a Goodwill bag by drier that I throw clothes in that don’t fit or I don’t like and donate when bag is filled. I am okay doing laundry as long as the clean clothes smell good (will try lavender). We have 10 children who are 13 and under. Kids keep wearing same clothes until they are dirty or smelly (1 hour up to a couple days). We don’t do pajamas.

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