Taking care of household laundry can be overwhelming if you let it pile up and take over your life. What was once a two full days - usually washing on Monday, with ironing on Tuesday - undertaking of housewives is just not possible with today's lifestyle.
Fortunately, we have better equipment, more effective laundry products and easier care fabrics to help with the task. But, laundry still takes time to ensure that everyone in the household has clean clothes, towels and sheets.
01 of 09
Follow the One Touch Rule
How many times have you picked up a pair of jeans or a shirt and wondered if it is clean? Most of us have a habit of trying something on, deciding not to wear it and dropping it on the floor or laying it over a chair. Or, we wear a shirt once and decide that maybe it could be worn again and leave it in a spot and then forget whether it is clean or dirty.
Learning to institute the one touch rule will help you conquer the laundry pile more quickly than any other tip.
When you remove a piece of clothing from a drawer or hanger and you decide not to wear it, return it immediately to the original location.
If you wear something and think it could be worn again, designate a spot in your closet for that item. Go through the lightly soiled items at the end of the week and double check for stains and determine if they do actually need a wash. One tip is to hang the worn-once garment with the hanger facing backward on the rod so you know that it has been worn.
If you wear something and it needs to go in the hamper, put it there immediately. No piece of clothing ever rises from the floor or a chair unless a hurricane blows through!
02 of 09
Shop for Clothes with Laundry in Mind
Shopping wisely is an important step in making laundry easier and reducing the number of laundry loads. Take time to read labels, study garment construction and select fabrics that will make laundry easier.
It is also important to teach everyone in your family that many clothes can be worn more than once between washings especially if you follow the one touch rule!
03 of 09
Split the Laundry Responsibilities
The best thing you can do for your children or your spouse, is to teach them the skill of doing their own laundry. The time to start is when kids are toddlers and want to do everything you are doing. A toddler can bring clothes to the laundry room and even begin to sort clothes by colors.
By the time a child is in elementary school, they can learn to use a washer and dryer. Remember, they can use every other electronic item on the market! Begin with basic items like sheets and towels and move on to more challenging items like different fabrics and stain removal.
Every teenager should know how to do laundry and it is a skill they will need in college or when they head out on their own.
04 of 09
Create Convenient Drop Zones
We all want everything in life to be easier - including a convenient spot to put dirty laundry. It is much easier to complete a task if the tools are right at hand.
Enforce a few "rules" of the hampers:
- All pockets must be empty.
- Zip all zippers.
- Separate items - no shirts inside sweaters or underwear inside pants.
- To make treating laundry stains easier, teach each person to attach a clothes pin to the stained area that will need extra attention.
By having multiple hampers, each family member can be responsible for bringing their hamper to the laundry room filled with soiled clothes and returning it to the proper spot filled with clean laundry.
If you have children, especially preteen and teenagers, there always seems to be an emergency that requires a certain clothing item or uniform that's needed on very short notice. Create an "Emergency Zone" hamper in the laundry room or kitchen for those items. The rule for using the Emergency Zone is that you must also notify the adult who will handle the "emergency" or do it yourself!Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Buy Sorting or Multiple Hampers
Whether you choose to purchase several laundry baskets and add labels or use a sorting hamper, presorting laundry into whites, lights and colored clothing will cut hours from your weekly laundry routine.
Look for sorting hampers on wheels so the entire thing can be rolled to the laundry room. Or, keep a large sorting hamper in the laundry room so that family members can bring their laundry baskets to a central spot and do the sorting there.
06 of 09
Deal with Dry Cleaning Simply
It is essential to have a hamper that is labeled "Dry Clean Only". Nothing is worse than a garment getting thrown into the washer and ruined by mistake.
If you have lots of dry cleaning needs or like professionally starched shirts, look for a dry cleaner that has a pickup and delivery service. Or, select a dry cleaner that is easily accessible on the way or home from work. By establishing a routine, you won't be caught empty-handed or shirtless!
Always remember that a dry cleaner is a professional but you play a part in getting the best final results.
07 of 09
Use Mesh Bags
Mesh laundry bags that can be tossed in the washer for delicate items and small items like socks and baby clothes will save time and sanity. No more lost socks or searching for mates. Simply return the bag of socks to the original wearer.
Teach children to place their socks in the bag after each wearing and then the entire thing can be tossed in the washer. Placing delicate undergarments in the bag protects them during the gentle cycle eliminates the need for more time-consuming hand washing.
08 of 09
Use a Calendar or App
For a busy family, a chore chart might just be the answer to a better laundry routine. Have a day designated for each child to change the bed sheets, gather the towels and bring his laundry to the laundry room.
It is much less daunting to do one or two smaller loads each day than to face a mountain of laundry on the weekend. Toss in a load first thing in the morning and then finish up after work or throughout the day.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Color Code Clothes and Linens
To make folding and returning clean laundry to the proper spot easier, assign each family member or bedroom a specific color of towels and sheets. This is particularly helpful when beds are different sizes and matching sheets to the right one bed is difficult.
For families with several children, use a permanent clothing marker to add a colored dot to clothing labels. Use one dot for the oldest child, two for the second, etc. This system works even if clothes are handed down and helps get the clothes to the right bedroom drawers.