Summertime, and the livin’ is easy… unless you are the one responsible for doing the laundry. It seems that warmer weather, more opportunities to get out there and be active and having the kids home from school adds up to a mountain of clothing, bedding and especially towels that need to be handled. It can be beyond overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.
So what makes summer such a laundry bummer? The sheer amount of varied activities is a huge reason for the added loads. If you have children, they are likely going swimming in addition to extra time out of doors. They are likely going through several changes of clothing daily. And it is entirely likely that each outfit is ending up in a different spot. Maybe a swimsuit left on the bathroom floor, play clothes on the bed, towels on the couch. This might sound familiar to you.
We spoke to Cheryl Arzewski, the co-owner of It’s Organized, with locations in California, New Jersey and New York. She has a lot of experience making the laundry battle winnable and has a few suggestions.
Set a Schedule
Arzewski has some ideas for you on that. First, get the family involved to make the job less stressful and more structured. “We try and set certain days to do laundry so the kids know that this is the day that laundry is going to happen and that the laundry basket needs to be prepared that day,” she says. “It gives the children some sort of sense of accountability to be part of the process.” Arzewski acknowledges that though your household might usually have a once-a-week day for laundry, the summer schedule might be several times weekly. “As long as everybody knows that is when laundry is going to be done,” it will be more manageable.
Sort It Out
With more laundry than usual piling up over the summer, keeping things organized is more important than ever. “Really make sure that you are sorting smartly,” Arzewski says. “For adults, keep the whites and darks and dry cleaning separated from the start. Make sure they either have separate bins for all of those or one bin with divided hampers. That way, it makes it very easy to throw it in the bin.”
For kids’ clothes, Arzewski says that there are a couple of ways to handle the washing. Some people like to separate the light colors from the dark colors and do those loads separately. Others prefer to throw everything into the washer in the same load and use cold water to clean it all at once.
Special clothes aren’t waiting for laundry day.
If there are special items, such as a sports uniform, that need to be worn soon after they are tossed into a laundry basket, the rules are different. “Special clothes aren’t waiting for laundry day,” Arzewski says. “If you throw the uniform into the wash and then dry with a dry towel, they will dry more quickly. Same with swimsuits.”
Eye on the Clock
How many times have you tossed a load of laundry into the washing machine after dinner only to find it in the morning, still in the washer? It happens to the best of us. The obvious advice here is to not start a load of laundry in the evening because you will not get it done and it will sit all night. However, it can be just as easy to forget about the laundry even when you start the load in the daytime.
Arzewski has a simple fix for that problem. “If you know that your wash cycle is going to take an hour, you set a timer for an hour and then, after the hour is up, you go and put it in the dryer.” Set another timer for the dryer, and when it goes off, go get the laundry out of the dryer and put it all away.
Summer Laundry School
If you are constantly picking up dirty clothes and towels all over the house, it might be a good time to enlist your family’s help in streamlining the whole routine. The level of help you can expect varies by the age of the people giving it.
“Kids who are really young, from a learning perspective, it's a learning tool for toddlers to help with sorting the whites and the colors,” Arzewski says. “I also love the idea of children being responsible for having the clothes put in the basket on time. A lot of families we work with make laundry a fun game with their kids.”
Arzewski says young children can help by matching socks with their mate and sorting things like shirts and pants into separate piles. The whole family creates the laundry, so it only makes sense for everyone to pitch in!
Help Kids Help You
Expecting children to help out with laundry not only means you need to teach them, it also means making it a bit easier for them to succeed. Arzewski says it probably isn’t realistic to expect kids to take all their dirty clothing down to the laundry room. “If we want children to put them in the laundry basket as they get undressed, it is better to keep a basket in their room so it will get in the basket. The expectation is that clothes aren’t on the floor; it’s that they put them in the basket.”
After the clothes are clean, dry and folded, kids can also put them away. Just maybe not the same way that you would. “For younger kids, it’s difficult to put them away,” Arzewski says. “Put each thing in its own drawer so they know where they go, even if it’s not perfect.” She says some parents will label each drawer so their children know what goes where and the expectation is just that the item makes it into the right drawer, regardless of how well it is folded – or not folded.
“Some people say it’s easier and minimizes wrinkling to hang them,” she says.”But that isn’t always going to happen.”