Are You Buried in Laundry?
Do you feel like your laundry pile has taken on a life of it’s own, and you are forever buried in laundry? Like it has grown so large that one day you’ll walk into your laundry room to find that it has become it’s own lifeforce with plans to take over your house? Read on, my friend…this used to be my fate as well! But, I have found a system that works. I know it seems too good to be true, but it really isn’t!
Now, before I share my system with you, let me say that this may not be for everyone – and that’s okay! For instance, one time in desperation, I read an article about how to keep up on laundry with a big family. “Have I finally found it?” I asked myself. Well, their family’s solution was to never fold clothes, and even clean clothes could be found on the floor. This isn’t a judgement. I’m thrilled that they found and shared a system that worked for them – but I knew it would never work for me. I can compromise on a lot of things, but not folding or hanging up our clothes isn’t one of them. However, my system does require a compromise. It’s just one that I can live with, and maybe you can too!
So, Here is Your Solution If You Are Buried In Laundry…
I no longer sort the clothes by color. (GASP!!) I sort them by person. It seems like that wouldn’t make a difference, and I resisted trying this change for a year because I couldn’t imagine it actually making my life easier. But, it did! Each person has their own laundry hamper or basket. I have taken a permanent marker and written our names on each one. I also have a basket dedicated to towels (and yes, the label “towels” is written on it). When someone’s basket is full, they get a load done. Some days, I do four loads, and some days I don’t do any. Since I started that system close to a year ago, I have never gotten overwhelmingly behind again – even when life has thrown us some major curve balls. When I get a little behind because of life, it’s really easy to catch back up.
Why would this work? I don’t think we even realize the amount of time it takes to sort the laundry by color. Even if you have the baskets that are divided and meant to sort by color initially, kids (and sometimes grown ups) don’t always adhere to that system (at least, that’s the story in my house). If my 8 year old can’t throw her laundry into a basket that has her name on it, then we have more issues than possible color-blindness. This system is extremely kid-friendly. Also, after a load is done, there’s no sorting by person. You can even just take that basket of clean clothes into that person’s room to fold it. Then you can put it away as you’re folding it. Folding and putting away is done in one shot. I’m amazed at how much time this saves. Older kids can even take their own laundry from the dryer and fold and put them away on their own.
What is the compromise? Well, maybe my whites aren’t as bright. That’s the compromise that some of you who are reading this may not be able to deal with. And, that’s okay – we all have our limitations. But, for me, less than bright whites are very worth not having my laundry pile make me feel like I need a glass of wine. I don’t think my whites look terrible either. That’s really the only compromise that I feel like I’m making.
So, where do you start if you already have a laundry room that is full, and you are buried in laundry?
Here’s how to get this going, step by step.
Make sure you have a basket for each person in your home (my husband and I combine ours, but that’s up to you) and label them. Also have a basket for towels that is clearly labeled. You may consider having an extra basket around for transporting loads in case you don’t have an empty basket around. I have one, and it is labeled “transport”. It will take everyone in your family time to adjust to this system if they are used to dumping their dirty clothes in whatever room they took them off in, so having clear labels is going to be helpful. Put each basket into the room it belongs in. That way the system is already started while you catch up on all the other stuff in your laundry room. Be sure to explain this to your family. Try to get them excited about it! My kids were actually pretty excited to have their own baskets and have a hand in keeping up on the laundry.
Go into your laundry room and start sorting everything in there by person or towels. You may find things in there that haven’t been worn in a long time. If you find things that don’t fit anyone anymore, this is the time to get rid of it or box it up for the next kid. Depending on how far behind you are, this may take some time. But, the good news is, this will likely be the last time you will EVER have to do this again!
Start doing laundry. Don’t worry about anything in your newly labeled baskets yet – just make it your goal to take the next 1-3 days emptying the laundry room. Wash all the clothes in cold water so that they won’t bleed nearly as much. Oh, you will feel so good when this is done! This step is where a transport basket will come in handy since your other baskets are being used. You will see how much faster it is to fold and put clothes away too.
Once your laundry room is empty, if you can take a day off – do it! You deserve it!
Go check on the status of the other baskets. If anyone has enough for a load, go ahead and do it.
You are now on the system!
Give your family some time to adjust to this. One big adjustment in our family was after bathing or showering. In the past, we always had a basket in the bathroom where towels and clothes were deposited. Getting in the habit of only putting towels in that basket and taking their clothes to their rooms took some time. It will be tempting to get grouchy about it after a bit. Believe me, I know! But, try to give them some grace and patience.
Don’t be afraid to make exceptions when you need to, but exceptions should be rare. If someone just got a brand new, deep red shirt, I may wash it by itself the first and second time to avoid any whites turning pink. But, if my son’s basket is full enough for 1 ¼ loads, I just leave that ¼ in the basket for next time. I never mix his with one of his siblings. It’s tempting, but I know that if I start doing that, it’ll all fall apart.
I hope that this system can help at least one person not feel conquered by their laundry. As women, wives, and/or mothers, we have so much on our plates as it is, and the last thing we need is to feel like we are being bullied by the lifeforce in our laundry rooms. I’d love to hear about your success if you try it, and/or any modifications you made to make it work even better in your family!