A load a day.
Obviously, this will be way too excessive for some people, but for anyone with a couple kids or more, this amount of laundry is just about right —and will save you from a day or more that’s consumed by catching up with laundry. Early on in my homekeeping life, I came across Flylady. Her mantra of “A load a day keeps CHAOS away” has been burned into my memory, in large part because I’ve found it to be true in my experience. (Note: “CHAOS” stands for “can’t have anyone over syndrome.”)
Follow through with each load.
Load goes in the wash, then the dryer (or hung to dry), then gets folded or hung and then gets put away. My laundry troubles come when I linger too long between steps and loads begin to pile up at the clean end. I like to “save” folding for when my kids are in bed and I watch a TV show, but if I’m behind at all, then this means piles that I probably won’t get through will be waiting for me… and grow and multiply. If I really mean business with keeping up, I’d fold right after the load is dry and then put it away. Honestly, this never happens. I’m still learning.
Make it fun.
As with many chores in life that just have to get done, take a page out of Mary Poppins’s book and make it fun. Turn on some music, make a party out of it, or reward yourself with a treat (chocolate, 15 minutes of pleasure reading, staring at the miraculously empty laundry baskets, whatever) when you accomplish either the laundry task as a whole (is anyone out there ever caught up with laundry???) or the part you dread most.
Not to be outdone, Unclutter has Seven ways to manage laundry.
- Wear clothes multiple times between washes, assuming they didn’t get dirty and they don’t smell bad. Real Simple has some suggestions on how many times you might wear an item before washing it, as does Consumer Reports. Besides saving time, less frequent washing also saves on water, power, and detergent.Steve Boorstein, who wrote a book on clothing care, recommends washing white clothes after each wearing because body oils and time-released stains (such as perfumes) can make even a clean-looking white item begin to turn yellow. But that’s not a concern with dark clothes, which will fade less quickly when washed less frequently.
- Consider washing each person’s clothes separately. Doing so avoids the post-laundry sorting problem. (If all family members do their own laundry, this is already how things work.)
- Examine your laundry process to see where you get stalled. One person noticed she was always dealing with her young son’s clothes after he was asleep, so the clothes piled up since she didn’t want to enter his room and possibly wake him. As a work-around, she started storing his clothes in the guest bedroom, and the problem disappeared.
- If folding is the part that slows you down, minimize the folding. If possible, arrange your storage so you can hang clothes rather than fold them. Many things that don’t get hung will still be fine without any folding. I fold my cloth napkins and my towels, but that’s about it. T-shirts are hung; underwear is tossed in a drawer with no folding. I worked with one person where we stored all her sweatshirts in a large lidded basket — no folding required.