Today is the day I have marked down to talk about laundry routines. And I am just going to come right out and say it. I struggle with laundry! Sometimes I am so on top of it I can declare with confidence, “Everything is clean!” Other times the laundry piles are so large they threaten overwhelm.
As with everything in this March MAIDness series, I am by no means perfect. But I am sharing the routines to which I return, time and again. These are my tried and tested, forgotten and remembered laundry routines.
Again, I hope to encourage you in your homemaking routines by sharing what works for one homemaker. Hopefully something will spark your imagination for solutions that would work in your home.
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The Keys to Laundry Routine Success
The endless supply of washable items is a thing to behold in our home. With the daily messes and spills that go along with having four kids and the general use of items in our home, we (like every other family) have our generous share of laundry.
Controlling the chaos that ensues when I “take a couple of days off” is not fun!
Over the last couple of years, I have developed a pretty good laundry routine and have found some solutions to common laundry problems. I even did a tune-up on my dryer and learned more about how a dryer works!
Here are my best laundry tips for establishing a laundry routine that works for you!
Do at least 2 loads of laundry every day
This is not some crazy secret, but it is something that really, really works. I prepare the night before by setting laundry baskets outside bedroom doors There presence is a reminder for me to grab one on the way downstairs in the morning.
While I am getting my coffee ready, I can quickly toss in a load of laundry and get it started. When my first cup of coffee and my first session on Bible study is finished, my first load is finished in the washing machine. I can quickly switch the laundry over to the dryer and add a new load to the washing machine. When the next cycle is finished, I am already halfway through with my laundry for the day and it is not even 7 in the morning!
On the days I do this, I have laundry finished and put away by 10 AM!
Delay the Laundry
Ok, I just told you I attend to my wash as soon as the buzzer goes off. What gives? I recently discovered my washing machine has a delay start button (just like my dishwasher).
You know how I said that I get up and throw a load of laundry in the washing machine, first thing? I started using this feature on my washing machine because my husband gets up and takes a shower about 15 minutes after I get started on my morning routine.
This one button allows me to get on with my usual routine and get laundry done on my family’s schedule. Depending on how long your timer goes on your machine, you could set it to start a load a little bit before you get back from running errands. So you could shop while doing laundry! I just love that!
Shorten wash & dry time
I know this may sound strange, but I recently discovered that I have a quick wash setting on my washing machine. I have owned our washing machine and dryer for over 8 years and just discovered it last month while trying to rush through piles and piles of laundry before a long road trip.
Suddenly, I had an epiphany – “If I use the quick wash setting, I could shave hours off of my laundry time!”
The regular setting for my washing machine takes 45 minutes to complete a cycle. The quick wash setting for my washing machine takes 33 minutes. That is a time savings of at least 12 minutes per load. I say at least because I have timed my washing machine and have noticed it runs 5 to 7 minutes longer than it says it will cycle because it has sensors detecting the amount of moisture left in the clothes. Time Savings: 12-15 minutes per load of laundry
When it comes to using the dryer, I use the timer setting on my dryer to ensure that my clothes spend no longer than they need to in the heater. The normal dry setting on my sensor dryer states that the cycle will last 50 minutes. I typically put my clothes in the dryer with the timer set for 30 minutes. Most of the time my clothes are dry after that one 30 minute cycle. Time Savings: up to 20 minutes per load of laundry
Set aside a specific place for folding
Another new thing I am doing is folding my laundry at the dryer. I have the luxury of a large counter top over my washer and dryer, so I instead of allowing it to become a clutter catcher, I am trying to use it for what it was intended.
By refusing to let my clothes hang out in the dryer – necessitating at least one fluff cycle – I am making it a habit to go over when the buzzer goes off to fold my clothes and place them on the counter, ready to go when I go upstairs to get the girls. I used to fold my clothes in the later morning or the evening, but I always had to fluff them because they had sat and wrinkled before I could get to them. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?
Having a designated place to quickly fold my clothes has saved me lots of time waiting on the fluff cycle to finish.
Stop folding shirts
A little time-wasting routine I have stopped doing is folding shirts. My first job was in retail. I simply loved the beauty of a perfectly folded stack of shirts. For years, I folded every shirt in our laundry. Then I took them upstairs and shook them out and hung them.
One day a couple of years ago, I had another epiphany. “I am wasting my efforts and my time folding and unfolding these shirts!” So, I stopped doing it.
My routine is to lay the shirts out and stack them on top of one another. Then when I am done folding each load (by the dryer), I load up my laundry basket with all the items which will remain folded when I put them away (underwear, bedclothes, etc.). Then I grab the entire stack of shirts by the shoulders and fold them half way and lay them on top of the basket.
Time Savings: at least 5-10 minutes each load with shirts.
Cut Everything in Half
We typically use a powdered laundry detergent and dryer sheets with each load of laundry. I also use a liquid fabric softener – sparingly. If I use what the boxes tell me, I will spend about 20 cents per load. But, if I cut everything in half, I cut my laundry bill by that much, too!
As I said before our clothes are not that dirty and the typical load of laundry already has residual detergent in the clothes (from the last time you washed them); thus, we can save money and stretch the laundry detergent by halving the amount we use each load.
See below what I do for fabric softener.
For the dryer sheets, I literally cut them in half. When I open a new box of dryer sheets, I use scissors to cut them in half and place them in a separate container. I purchased dryer sheets a number of years ago on an amazing sale (with coupons!) and I am still using them! Still!
A Fabric Softener Routine
Before we had little ones, I heard fabric softener can make clothing more flammable. After we had our kids, I decided I would use our fabric softener more sparingly as a precaution.
I figure we wear most of what we are going to wear in a 10 day period (we are creatures of habit around here). Thus, I typically put the fabric softener away (in a cabinet), every other week. The result is a peace of mind for me and a breather for our budget by cutting our fabric softener use in half.
Use Color Catchers to Wash New Clothes with Old
I was truly skeptical about the claims of Color Catchers when I first heard about them. And how they work are truly a mystery to me, BUT they WORK! Since we are parents to three girls, we get a LOT of new clothes that are pink – the most dangerous color for laundry.
My mother-in-law picked up a box of Color Catchers for me when we first started doing little girl laundry and I was immediately converted. You know my money saving soul cuts those things in half to make them stretch.
I don’t have to use the Color Catchers in every load of laundry, but if I am at all concerned about colors bleeding, I toss one in there! Oh, and I even use them when I want to do a small load mixed with whites – unheard of in our mama’s day! Savings: the heartache of a now-pink undershirt and 50% of your Color Catcher budget.
More Laundry Tips
I got started talking about my laundry routines and realized just how much I have to say on the topic of laundry! I guess that is what happened because I am well on my way to the 10,000 hours Malcolm Gladwell talks about.
So I thought I would throw some extra tips your way. I made up a printable copy of the tips below for the homeschooling homemakers in my Simple Homeschooling Blessings Facebook group. You can grab a copy when you request to join this small group.
I also have some laundry related posts for your laundry encouragement.
- How to Wash Pillows in an HE washing machine
- How to Hang clothes like a Genius! (this will seriously change your laundry routine)
- A step by step tutorial for a dryer tune-up
- How to Fold Kid’s Clothes Like a Genius
- 20+ Chores for Tots (including lots of laundry related chores)
- Laundry Helps for Moms