Do you struggle to keep on top of the never ending cycle of laundry? Me too! I have struggled with it since my husband and I first got married but recently, I have made a few changes that have really helped me and for the first time EVER, I occasionally actually finish ALL our laundry (this was an inconceivable dream for me for over twenty years!) so I thought I would share with you the small changes that have made such a difference – here are my 10 ways to stay on top of the Laundry Pile!
1. Sort it once
I think this is the key. I mentioned in a post recently that I bought these bins from IKEA over Christmas. I have four and I labelled them with the four types of wash I do – darks, whites, lights and brights. I actually also have three other types and they are – towels, kitchen linens and bed linens but kitchen linens are thrown in a tub next to the washing machine as they are used and towels and bed linens are washed straight from where we use them so they don’t need a ‘bin’ of their own. That makes seven loads in total which is quite convenient as there are seven days in a week! So, I try to do one load each day. (I know some people don’t bother to separate their laundry at all and use the colour catcher things but I have always been super picky (I know, you are shocked!) about my washing and I just can’t bring myself to risk it!! Sad but true!)
Previously, each time I needed to put a load of laundry into the machine, I would gather ALL the laundry from the bins in our bedrooms and bathrooms and sort it all out into the various different loads and then, because what was left had nowhere else to go, and I didn’t want bundles of dirty laundry lying in piles all over the house, I would pick out the biggest load and put the rest back in the laundry bins. More and more would then be added to whatever bin was handy until I was ready to do another load and I would start all over again. This was a lengthy, time-wasting process and because it was so lengthy, I would procrastinate until I had time to stop and sort through all the laundry again and consequently, as time is in short supply, I rarely kept up with the process.
That’s why having these bins has been a game-changer. Now, I sort whatever washing I have twice a week and when a bin is full, I take it down to the washing machine and put that load on. And the best thing is that when I think of it and I have a moment in my day, I can just run upstairs, grab a bin and stick that load in the machine – it takes less than a minute! I can’t tell you how much time I have saved not faffing about with all those clothes over and over again.
2. Don’t delay
I think the second most impactful change has been trying to get a load done each day instead of waiting until I had time to do several loads in one day. The more you put it off, the more laundry builds and the more time it will take to get back to square one – it’s a vicious cycle. You can finish up like I did, never reaching the end (which is a pretty miserable situation!) I think like most chores or miserable jobs you don’t want to do, the trick is in doing little and often. This way, it’s never so overwhelming, it gets you down and you have to spend one of your precious weekend days doing laundry instead of enjoying your family or rest time.
3. Do delay
See what I did there? 😉 One of the little tips I read about to help keep on the ‘load a day’ cycle was to use the ‘delay’ function on my washing machine. I often don’t remember to get a wash started before I head off for work in the morning and I don’t want my washing machine whizzing away when I’m trying to sleep (the machine is right underneath our bed and I struggle with sleep enough without that buzzing away in the background!) but if I put the machine on before I go to bed, I can use the delay function to get it started while I’m at work and when I come home, it’s ready and waiting for me to get it into the dryer without having to sit wet in the machine all day (or even sit there dry and dirty because I forgot to switch it on!) Just a little tip that helps keep me on track.
4. Set aside time to iron (and make it fun)
I know lots of people don’t iron at all. I actually don’t know how that is possible – whatever I do, our clothes always seem to be far too creased to get away without ironing – but, I do iron the bare minimum. That is, no underwear, nightwear, bedding (except maybe the occasional pillow case!) or sports gear ever sees the hot side of my iron! However, my kids both have to wear ‘proper’ white cotton shirts for school and hubby and I both have work clothes that have to be ironed so I do at least one and usually two loads of ironing each week. I am a firm believer in using this time to catch up on my latest netflix or Youtube obsession as well as listening to my current book on audible and I actually look forward to it (but don’t tell my husband!!)
5. Don’t have so many clothes (or bedding or towels!)
This one is quite straight forward! The less stuff you have to wash, the less washing you will have to do! It’s taken me a while to grasp it! #slowlearner but, as is true with so much in home ownership, keeping clutter and things you don’t need makes it harder to keep up. We keep a bag on the go constantly to get rid of items of clothing, bedding or whatever that we no longer need and I take the bag to the charity shop regularly. We also only use two sets of bedding on a rotation for each bed and two sets of towels – the one we’re using and one spare. The only thing we keep a large supply of is tea towels and kitchen cleaning cloths because I change those out at the end of each day to keep the germs from building up in them.
6. Get everyone on board
I know lots of people have their husband and children do their own laundry but we are not there yet so in the meantime, I have the children bring their dirty laundry twice a week and empty it into my bedroom laundry basket so that removes one step of the process. In an ideal world, everyone would put away their clean laundry too but after years of finding clean clothes strewn across bedrooms and mingling with dirty clothes, I decided it was less work in the long run for me to put it away myself! #pickyourbattles I should say that my daughter is pretty good with this stuff but as for the rest of our household, I will leave it at that!! Perhaps you can get your family on board more successfully – I imagine it would make a huge difference!
7. Spread it throughout the week (but have a day when you make it your main focus)
As I said, spreading the task of getting all the laundry done across the week makes it a smaller, more manageable job than leaving it all to one day in my opinion. I used to do all laundry at the weekend but I found I was spending the majority of my weekend washing, ironing and folding clothes and it was not fun! Doing it little and often, I can chip away at it a few minutes here and there without having to miss out on any time with the family at the weekend. Having said that, if I’ve fallen behind during the week, I will use Sunday to catch up because I don’t want to fall so far behind that I’m overwhelmed and stressed out again and back in that vicious cycle I mentioned earlier.
8. Put it away straight away
This is the hardest part isn’t it? Why is that?! It’s just a step too far sometimes to make it into each person’s room and get their things put away. However, if I don’t, I find the little piles of clean washing have a habit of getting messy and spreading all over the place so it’s really worth making that final effort to get it all put away. Plus, it feels so good when it’s all done!
9. Hang up your clothes (and have everyone else do the same)
I have noticed over the years that the amount of washing I personally produce is much less than some other family members! I am convinced that this is because I ALWAYS hang my clothes up before I go to bed. It’s become such a habit that even if I’m dragging myself home in the early hours after a night out, I automatically put my clothes on hangers before I flop into bed without even realising I’ve done it. I reckon this reduces the amount of washing I produce because basically, there are not that many things that really need to be washed every single time you wear them! Especially if you’ve only had them on for a part of the day. But if you don’t hang them up, they are all creased and nasty looking and it’s often easier to put them through the whole laundry cycle again. And, if someone in your household has just stepped out of their jeans and left them in a heap on the floor, chances are, rather than hang them up again, they are going to throw them in the wash basket because it’s much easier!! Again, naming no names. I’m trying really hard to train the children to hang their clothes up for this reason. I’m selling it on the fact that it’s kinder to the environment if I have to do less washing…
10. Have a list
Is having a list the answer to all of life’s problems? May be not, but it certainly helps me with a lot of them! I have a list that gets revised fairly regularly of the basic chores and tasks in our home that need to be done on a continuous basis. Things change over time and the amount of hours we have available for housework is often changing which is why I revisit it fairly often but on the whole, I find it really helps us to always be mindful of any little thing we can be doing to stay on track if we have a list for each day of the week of tasks that need to be done. I include the various types of laundry on this list mainly so that I can be sure that when our son has played football in the rain and his kit is covered in mud, or our daughter has shoved her dancing clothes in her laundry bin one day and needs it for an exam or performance later that week, I have washed those things in plenty of time and we don’t have a last minute panic. Also, for example, if I know I’m always washing my bedding on a Sunday and changing the beds that day, there is no confusion over whether or not it has been done.
So, as always, I don’t have this all ‘down’ by any stretch and of course there are times when we all fall behind, but these are just some little tips that I’ve learned that help me so I’m sharing them in case they do the same for you. Do you have any tricks that have helped? I would love to hear about them in the comments. You can read more of my ’10 ways’ posts here and here.
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