Taming the Laundry Beast

Who really likes to do laundry? Not me! But I do like to have a laundry room that I don’t have to trip over, and a laundry room that I don’t have to maneuver past baskets, or step over the piles of clothes on the floor. A pet peeve of mine is to have clean clothes left in the laundry basket or in the dryer. For some reason I don’t like wrinkles on my clothes. It makes me feel messy and not put together. So figuring out how to tame the laundry beast feels awesome!

To be honest, it took me many years to finally figure out a system that works for my family. In the past, I had a laundry room where we would simply shut the door to avoid looking at the piles of clothes or worse, close the door to not smell the dirty laundry as it was waiting to be cleaned. But I am happy to report I have found a system that works for my family, finally. I have to say that it feels nice to walk into or through the laundry room (which is great because you can see if from the kitchen and it leads into our garage) and not have to step over or through piles of clothes.

To keep the laundry contained I like to keep a laundry basket in each individual’s bedroom. This keeps the laundry room clear and also keeps the baskets and laundry from piling up on the floor in their room and keeps the laundry room cleared out too. When my kids turn about 11 or 12, (depending on their attitude and willingness to help fold their clothes) I teach them to do their own laundry. Then, they learn how to sort the light clothes from the darker clothes, pre-treat spots, and fold their own clothes. Once a week they wash their clothes, fold them and put them away. If you have a bigger family you can assign different days of the week for each family member’s laundry day. I do suggest following up to make sure they don’t run out of clothes or skip doing their laundry for weeks on end.

For the younger kids (I have 2 that I still do their laundry) I keep their dirty clothes together in a basket that fits under the bed. It makes sense for me because one is a boy (age 2) and one is a girl (age 9). So their clothes are not easily mixed up. Once a week, I wash their clothes and as soon as they come out of the dryer I fold them and put them away. I have found that if I don’t immediately put them away, (or have them put the clothes away) then I have a bigger mess on my hands. The kids will end up digging through the basket of clean clothes and then the floor will be covered in laundry.

Another tip that helps putting away the clothes easier is I organize the folded laundry according to the drawers they go in, as I fold. For example, I put all the folded socks & underwear together in a pile. Then the folded shirts go together, pants get folded and stacked in another pile, and PJs are folded in a separate group. I lay all the hanging clothes in one stack too. This makes it SO easy to put the clothes away because I simply move one pile from the laundry basket into one drawer, and then I am on to the next. Finally, I hang all the hanging clothes. I find this so much easier and less frustrating than picking up clean clothes off the floor if the clothes stay in the basket.

In my husband’s closet we have room for two laundry baskets. We sort them as we put our daily dirty clothes in there. One basket for lights and one basket for darks. The best news is that my husband washes our clothes on the weekend!! I know, you are jealous. And since I like to fold and organize, I fold the clothes and put them away. We also take our towels off the racks and wash them over the weekend, then we just hang them back where they go.

The older kids at home wash their sheets on the same day they wash their clothes (they are supposed to anyway, definitely follow up with this). I wash the younger kids’ sheets when I wash their clothes, and wash my bedroom sheets during the week when I have an evening at home. For the guest bed, I just wash the sheets after a guest leaves, and remake the bed. Then the guest bed is always ready.

After having struggled getting the laundry in my home under control over the years, this system works for my family. It helps to separate the clothes by person, because this eliminates having to know whose shirt belongs to whom. I remember when I was growing up, that if my clothes ended up in my sister’s drawer, she would claim they were hers. This ends that kind of battle too! Everyone has their own clothes in their own basket and it doesn’t get mixed up. It is also a great way to teach children how to care for their own clothes and to teach them how to be responsible.

The breakdown to tame is as follows:

  1. Separate laundry by person/bedroom
  2. Wash, dry, and fold weekly
  3. When folding, organize by drawer where you will put it away
  4. Put laundry away right after you fold clothes
  5. Wash sheets/towels weekly

Something else I have learned is that it is much easier to stay on top of the laundry by scheduling yourself the time to take care of it. I know that over the weekend we are getting the laundry done. Also, it is imperative that you see the laundry through to completion. This is a big one! If you leave clothes in the washer, you have to re-wash. If you leave clothes in the dryer or unfolded in the basket, they are all wrinkled. If you leave clothes folded in the basket, they end up on the floor or unfolded and you have to re-do that too. If you can train yourself and your family to only handle things once, life will be easier and you won’t get frustrated re-doing things that you already ALMOST did. You too can tame the laundry beast!

Happy Organizing!

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