1.Sort as you go
Instead of wasting time sorting clothes into loads on laundry day, sort as you go with multiple hampers. This will take away that extra step on laundry day. It also allows you to customize your loads of laundry how ever you prefer.
If you like to wash each family member’s laundry separately, set your hampers up and label them with each person’s name. If you prefer to wash loads by color or texture, label each hamper that way. On laundry day, take each hamper one at a time to the laundry room and simply transfer all the clothes from the hamper to the washer. No sorting necessary!
2.Stain treat as you go
Just like sorting laundry, stain treatment on laundry day can take a ton of time (especially if you have messy kiddos). The time and energy it takes look at each piece of clothing from the hamper, one-by-one. Then, treating all the stains BEFORE you can start the washer is a pain.
Instead, treat them as you go by keeping some of your favorite stain treatment near the hamper. Examining one outfit before it goes into the hamper is much more manageable
3.Use zippered mesh bags
You know the ones I’m talking about. Most people refer to them as delicate wash bags or lingerie bags. You can find cheap ones at the dollar store, or in the laundry basket/ hamper/ ironing board aisle at your favorite one-stop-shop store like Target or Walmart. There, you’ll find a wider variety of sizes and a range or “porousness” (space between the holes in the mesh. It’s a good idea to have a few different options on hand to accommodate all of your clothing items. You can use thicker mesh (smaller holes) for delicate items such as sweaters, blouses or item with lace, special bags with a bit of structure for bras or large, thin bags for other items.
How does this help move things along? You can separate items that need to be air-dried into their own zippered bag, so you don’t have to waste time fishing them out between the washer and the dryer. Additionally, you can eliminate time spent hand washing certain items or separating them into an additional “delicate” cycle load simply by washing them right along with a normal load of clothes. The mesh bag, particularly the thicker ones will protect *most* items from everything else and cushion them during the spin, similar to the gentle cycle.
To make this work best, buy zippered mesh bags with a “hidden” zipper that stays shut firmly during the wash cycle. You can opt to put multiple items inside one mesh bag. Just be sure not to overfill so that soap and water can move freely into the bag and reach each garment entirely.
4.Separate into less loads
Mesh bags can also help you cut down on the number of loads you wash. Obviously less loads = less time and hassle, plus, studies show that a full load is cleaned more effectively and efficiently than a load with just a few items. Just be sure you don’t overstuff the washer or dryer. A good rule of thumb is to fill the machine until it’s ¾ full, so that the items can get equal attention from you detergent and rinse thoroughly.
On way you can use mesh bags on your regular, wash & fold items is by separating each family member’s items into a zippered bag and washing them together. When it’s time to fold, you’ll have the items that go to each person’s room already separated! You can also solve the age-old “sock monster” mystery by putting all the socks in a bag together.
Another easy way to cut down on the number of laundry loads is by using color blocking cloths. Shout color catchers or Carbona color grabbers allow you mix your whites with colored and/ or dark items in the same load. Imagine the time you’ll save.
5.Use the “Quick Wash” cycle
Does your washing machine have a “quick” cycle? Most these days do. Try it out! It generally takes about ½ the time as the “normal” cycle. You might wonder if the quick cycle actually cleans your clothes as well as the normal cycle. In my experience, the answer is YES!
6.Wash less often
Some things need to be wash after every wear. T-shirts, undies, socks and, obviously stained or soiled items should be washed between wears. BUT, you can generally get more mileage out of a pair of jeans, dress slacks, panty hose, bras, towels and more. This tip requires a mental shift, so it’s not for everyone. That’s okay!
As a habit, most people throw all their clothes from the day into the hamper…it’s part of our routine. But some clothes can go a little longer from wash to wash. Sometimes, it’s obvious an item needs a good wash before it can be worn again. Those CAN go straight into the hamper! Otherwise, perform a sniff test. Does it still smell good? If so, hang it up to let it “air-out” and wear it again. I like to spray a little febreze or linen spray on lightly worn clothes and then let them air-out. This is great for clothes that may not have been worn all day or that weren’t worn during some sweat inducing activity. You’ll also get to enjoy these items longer since they won’t wear out as quickly.
7.Make the dryer do the ironing
Do you make a habit of taking the clothes out of the dryer when the cycle is complete? If not, you’ve probably noticed the wrinkles that set in as the clothes cool down. Make a habit of taking them out right away.
If you’re not quite ready to start folding flat stack the items that tend to get wrinkly so they’ll be ready (and wrinkle-free) when you are. I fold pants right away since they tend to be quick. Then, hang the collared shirts and stack the t-shirts completely flat. Undies, socks and other small items go into a laundry basket for later. I’m able to get the next load drying and keep the laundry momentum going
If you have any items with remaining wrinkles, just toss them into the dryer with a damp washcloth for 10-15 minutes. Voila!
I love doing laundry because it’s rhythmic. I can start a load in the wash, do some cardio for 35 minutes then switch the load to the dryer, start another and get some yoga or weights in. Once the cycle is complete, I switch the loads and fold the clothes from the dryer. As strange as it sounds, laundry helps manage my time. Think about what you can do in 30-40 minutes. Catch up on a show you DVRed, prep dinner, make dinner, workout, read a chapter or two, make some phone calls, run a couple errands?
Think of each cycle like a countdown clock. Make a goal to get ONE THING accomplished before the buzzer goes off…and then go for it. It can be exhilarating (ok, maybe that’s a *slight* exaggeration) to reach that goal, no matter how small and then, to cross TWO things off the To Do list at the same time. You’ll likely work faster and be more productive just to beat the buzzer and feel like macGyver diffusing some sort of explosive device with less than a second to go.
9.Make a schedule
There’s something about a routine that make things go faster. It’s likely the mental preparation we all do subconsciously when following a scheduled pattern, combined with the autopilot that’s engaged once we start a routine.
There’s probably more psychology to it than that, but the fact of the matter is, a routine laundry schedule is way easier and less stressful than having no routine and figuring out you need to do laundry when you’re about to leave for some outing and your favorite pair of pants is balled up in the bottom of the hamper. Figure out how long it takes to fill your hamper and then you’ll know how often you need to do laundry. Then, decide what day or days are most convenient and stick to the schedule. Get in into your calendar or day planner so you can plan for it!
10.Get the kids to help
You’re never too young to learn how to do laundry. Well, that *might* be overstating it slightly. But it’s true that learning the basics of laundry day can help kids develop a greater sense of responsibility early on AND, as a bonus, a greater appreciation for the person or people that do their laundry.
To start, have them help you load items into the washer or ask them to bring their hamper to the laundry room. They can also learn over time how to sort and treat stains, as well. Of course, then the part kids love the most is pressing the buttons and watching the first few rotations with glee and satisfaction in a job well done! (Oh, to be a kid again!) Kiddos love being great helpers, so consider putting sticker on the buttons they need to push and where to turn the dial. I have a #1 sticker on the “power” button, #2 on the dial (with a star sticker on the quick wash cycle) and a #3 on the start button.
Since the machines do the actual grunt work, it’s safe and easy to have them lend their helping little hands as soon as they can walk (or whenever you feel comfortable). Disclaimer: It’s always a good idea to supervise, just in case…and it gives them an opportunity to “show off”.
11.Outsource the laundry altogether!
No matter how you slice it, laundry can be one of the more boring tasks around the house. Even the most efficient routine takes time and energy. Consider outsourcing the laundry to a laundry service (such as, *shameless plug* Laundry Care).
With a service that has free pickup and delivery like Laundry Care, you can automate the weekly laundry chore by scheduling recurring pickups every week. You’ll be able to spend your time hanging with the family or getting importing things done instead of wasting it doing laundry. A laundry service can be especially helpful when returning from vacation, prepping for the holidays or visiting relatives, or just those times when the laundry gets out of control.