A Simple Laundry Routine That Actually Works
I have tried so many laundry routines over the years. Having a ‘Laundry Day’, where I do ALL the laundry in one day – wash, dry, fold, put away. Having certain days of the week dedicated to certain types of laundry. Loading all the laundry into a single hamper, then taking it to the laundry room each morning to sort, then picking a load to wash. All of these systems irritated me for different reasons – so I finally found a laundry routine that WORKS, and I’m excited to share it with you!
Why we need a laundry routine
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It may seem silly, to think that we need a ‘routine’ for handling our laundry. This is likely especially true if you are single, or it’s just you and your partner at home – and you don’t have children (or if you only have one child). If this is the case, you’re probably thinking – ‘I just do laundry when it needs to be done’, or ‘I do all my laundry on the weekends, when it’s cheaper!’.
That’s all well and good if you don’t have a lot of people in your home. Or you don’t have a baby. Because – babies and children will create more laundry than you would ever think a tiny human could create.
When I had my first baby, was when I first realized I needed some kind of a routine for laundry.
My first baby had pretty severe “colic” – she spit up (more like projectile vomited) dozens of times a day – so there were constant clothing changes – for her AND for me. Not to mention the bedding, the diaper leaks, the breast pad leaks, the cloth diapers, the bibs, the receiving blankets – I had laundry coming out my ears.
As I had 2 more children, the laundry only multiplied. I literally felt like I was drowning in laundry, and was determined to find a laundry routine that WORKS, and helped me keep my sanity. I refused to be swallowed up by the laundry monster!
I also believe, that as the CEO of our households, part of our responsibilities include creating efficient systems for different aspects of our homes. I treat my job as a Homemaker, as seriously as I would treat my job working for an employer. An employer wouldn’t tolerate inefficiency, and neither should we!
Laundry routines that failed me
I tried several variations of laundry routines before finding a laundry routine that works.
The Laundry Day
I loved the idea of ordering my days, so I tried having a ‘Laundry Day’, where we did ALL the laundry for the week in ONE DAY. Yes – wash, dry, fold, put away.
What I LOVED about Laundry Day:
ALL THE LAUNDRY WAS CLEAN IN ONE DAY.
I would start early in the morning and just plow through until it was done. By the end of the day, everything was clean, folded, and put away neatly in drawers. It was the BEST feeling to know that I didn’t have to see my washing machine for another week!
What DIDN’T WORK about Laundry Day:
We cloth diapered. Which means what I said above was a lie. Unless I had hundreds of cloth diapers on hand, diapers needed to be washed at least every 2-3 days. So cloth diapers became the exception to my above rule. I would wash those every couple of days – and do everything else on Laundry Day.
I was trying to live more sustainably – which meant using my clothesline whenever possible. My clothesline only held one load of laundry. That meant that most of the laundry I washed on Laundry Day was going through the dryer.
It was exhausting – and it took up most of my day. By the end of Laundry Day, I hated laundry. No wonder I was excited to not have to do it again for another week.
When I realized this wasn’t working, I tried to divide it up further – cloth diapers every 2 days, all clothing laundry on another day, and all household laundry (bedding, towels, etc) on a different day. But this still wasn’t working as smoothly as I would have liked.
For the most part, I am a huge fan of batching chores, and doing all similar chores in one day – typically this is the most efficient way to do things. But, for laundry, this wasn’t working out.
(I still have ‘Laundry Day’ as part of our weekly rhythm – however, it now means something else. You can read about my updated version of Laundry Day here).
The Big Hamper, and One Load a Day
Due to the above, I decided to switch and do one load of laundry a day. I had also caught on to Flylady at this point, and she insisted that ‘A load a day keeps the chaos away’.
However, my version of ‘a load a day’ started with having one huge hamper in my bedroom, where all the laundry would get dumped.
Since I believe in sorting laundry (darks, colours, whites, rags, bedding, etc.), I didn’t just want to dump it all in together in one load.
So I’d carry the big, heavy hamper down to the basement (where the laundry machines lived), sort it into piles, then pick one pile to wash.
What I LOVED about the (big hamper) Load a Day Method:
I only had to think about doing ONE load of laundry a day. Laundry no longer was all consuming, I only had one load to think about. As long as that load was done, my laundry for the day was finished.
I could use my clothesline, or my indoor drying rack to dry laundry. Since my clothesline and drying rack will only hold one load of laundry, I could hang everything to dry, and avoid using my dryer altogether.
What DIDN’T WORK about the (big hamper) Load a Day Method:
The giant hamper situation was really irritating. The hamper lived in my bedroom, and was the main ‘laundry collection point’. Meaning, as I collected laundry up from everyone’s bedroom, the kitchen, etc. – it would all get put into the hamper in my bedroom. I LIKED having a single laundry collection point – letting everyone have their own laundry basket would have resulted in more chaos, and more sorting (then I’d have multiple baskets to sort, instead of just the one). It would also mean going around to everyone’s room before starting the day’s load of laundry.
It was also heavy to carry down the stairs, and awkward. And it meant sorting daily, which seemed really inefficient.
A Different Type of Laundry Each Day
I liked the THOUGHT of this schedule – having a different type of laundry for each day of the week. I even tried to align it with the name of the day (ie – Whites on Wednesdays).
What I LOVED about a different type of laundry each day:
There was no guesswork – I knew exactly what laundry I was washing that day, and I could just get to it.
Having a different type of laundry each day, meant that I knew by the end of the week, everything had been washed once.
What DIDN’T WORK about a different type of laundry each day:
Certain loads would pile up, because we used more of that particular type of laundry. ie) We have very few whites, but LOTS of colours. So by the time ‘colours’ day arrived, I would have to do 2-3 loads, because there was way too much to stuff into one load.
Sometimes, I would need something from a particular load, so that one would get washed that day instead, messing up my schedule for the week.
Or there would be a laundry emergency – someone would wet their bed, so I’d have to wash sheets, even though it wasn’t ‘sheet day’.
Basically, I was getting CLOSE to finding a great laundry system, but this was a little too detailed. There was little room for flexibility.
The Magical Laundry Routine that Actually Works:
This is the Laundry Routine I finally settled on. I confess, my kids were around 10, 8, and 6 when I finally figured this out – and it was like this huge ‘a-ha’ moment!
I got rid of the giant hamper, and instead, placed 3 separate laundry baskets, and a pail, on the floor of my closet.
One basket for whites.
One basket for colours.
One basket for darks.
A pail for rags (the rag pail was for dirty cleaning rags, or cloth diapers, basically anything that I didn’t really want washed with regular laundry).
Since the baskets lived on my closet floor, I could simply close the closet door and not see them.
Each morning, as the kids do their morning chores, part of their job is to bring their laundry to my bedroom, and sort it into the appropriate basket.
After all the day’s laundry has been sorted, all we do is grab whichever basket is the fullest, and carry THAT BASKET to the laundry room.
It’s so simple, it’s genius.
Basically, the load goes in the washer in the morning.
The next time I head downstairs, it either goes into the dryer, or out to the clothesline (using the clothesline is currently only a fair-weather activity for our family – we are currently still using the dryer in winter).
Somewhere around dinnertime, it gets taken off the clothesline, or pulled out of the dryer, I fold it Kon-Mari style (often while listening to a podcast or watching something on YouTube), and put away.
What I LOVE about the Pre-Sorting Method:
No more heavy, awkward, giant hamper with all the laundry in it.
In fact, it’s so light, that THE KIDS COULD TAKE OVER THIS JOB.
In my book, any system that is so easy, the kids can take it over, IS A GOOD SYSTEM.
So… it’s one of the boys’ jobs to take the day’s laundry down to the washing machine, and start the load. Easy peasy. ONE LESS THING FOR ME TO DO IN A DAY.
It has all the benefits of the Load-a-Day Method – only one load to think about, and I can use my drying rack or clothes line.
I never have to sort laundry again (which is a hugely inefficient waste of time). Everything is sorted up front so no thought is required.
It teaches kids how to sort laundry properly (they are the ones sorting their own laundry before putting it into the basket).
It’s efficient, because we are using the same basket from start to finish. I’m not using a separate hamper, carrying it around the house, returning it to where it belongs, and using laundry baskets to return clean laundry. We use the same basket to take the dirty laundry down, put the wet laundry in to take it out to the clothesline, put the dry laundry back in, and to put the clean, dry laundry away. Then the basket just goes back to its place in the closet.
There is no schedule – I simply do whichever load is the fullest, or whichever one I need the most (if I’m running low on cleaning rags, I’ll grab the cleaning rag bucket and wash that. If we’re running out of undershirts, I’ll grab the whites load). It’s WAY more flexible – we can even skip a day or two if needed, and just pick up where we left off.
Sheets get washed as needed. We still have the occasional accident, so in that case, the child’s bedding gets washed that day in lieu of other laundry. Otherwise, I rotate through the bedding – on days when there isn’t a laundry basket full enough to wash a regular load, I pick a bed to strip and I wash that. This is much less overwhelming than trying to wash everyone’s sheets all in one day – that’s 4 beds to strip, wash, and re-make. Uh, no thanks.
Random Laundry fits into this system, too. There are always weird things to be washed that I couldn’t figure out how to fit in before. Like when all the snowsuits are covered in mud. Or the living room curtains are looking grungy. Or you realize the shower curtain hasn’t been washed in awhile. On whatever day that is, I just make THAT my load for the day, then get back to the regular laundry the next day.
It fits into our daily rhythm. We have just incorporated our daily laundry routine into our family’s daily rhythm. It doesn’t even feel like a chore, it’s just part of our daily flow of activity.
There is a sense of ‘done’ at the end of the day. One of my greatest frustrations used to be feeling like the laundry was NEVER, EVER DONE. When you put what you thought was the last dirty thing into the washing machine, more laundry would mysteriously appear. With this method, all you have to focus on is that ONE load, from start to finish (wash, dry, fold, put away). Then your laundry job for the day is done, and the rest can wait until tomorrow. Or the next day.
What I DON’T LOVE about the pre-sorting method:
Truthfully, very little.
I literally used to obsess about getting this part of my homemaking life under control. I felt like laundry dominated our days and our weeks. Now, I barely think about it, because it basically operates on auto-pilot. As long as we basically keep up with our load-a-day, only skipping the occasional day here and there (like if we’re not home all day), the system pretty much runs itself.
I would say the ONLY downfall of this method, is that the kids aren’t taking 100% responsibility for their own laundry.
Ideally, everyone would just be in charge of their own laundry, and that would solve all my problems. 😉
However, because I like laundry to be sorted (and not have everything dumped into one load), everyone would have 3 separate loads of laundry. There are 5 of us in the house, so add in sheets, towels, and random laundry, and that would be a LOT of laundry loads in a week. And it would take forever for anyone to fill up their own baskets. By combining laundry, it saves us resources, as we’re just doing one load of one type of laundry.
Now, with that said, I DO have my 15 year old doing her own laundry – mostly because I want her to take responsibility for it now that she is older. She has 2 baskets, 1 for colours, 1 for darks – she doesn’t really have whites (if she does, it goes into the family whites basket).
This is how it would happen in an ideal world, but I don’t want to be wasteful in terms of water and electricity. Plus, I feel like there would be chaos at the laundry machines, with so many people trying to do their own laundry. And we’d have to come up with a schedule – which is exactly what I love NOT having.
Finding a Laundry Routine that Works for You
In this post, I shared with you the various laundry systems that I tried and FAILED at. And I shared with you the laundry routine that we currently use, and LOVE.
However, you might be at a different stage of your life than I am (maybe you’re an empty-nester, or you don’t have children, or it’s just you at home, so you don’t really stress about laundry.
You might have discovered a laundry system that you use and love! If so, please share it in the comments below.
A Simple Laundry Routine that Actually Works!
Step 1: Pre-sort laundry into 4 baskets: Whites, colours, darks, rags.
Step 2: Each morning, put whatever basket is the fullest into the washer.
Step 3: After the rest of your morning routine, switch your laundry to the dryer or hang it on the clothes line.
Step 4: Late in the afternoon, fold and put your laundry away.
Step 5: On days when there are no full baskets, choose something else to wash: bedding, curtains, snow suits, etc.
Step 6: Rejoice in the fact that your laundry is always caught up, and you never have to stress about laundry again!
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