Homemaking Skills: Laundry

Ahh….homemaking. It is a wonderful, magical, experience. There are rainbows and sunshine, and a huge pile of freaking laundry. Seriously, this laundry is ruining my fantasy. Why does reality always do that?

But in all seriousness, laundry is one of those things that is always there and you can’t ignore it….at least not for long. Because if you DO end up ignoring it you’ll end up with something like this.

Mount Laundry (2021)

So how do you manage laundry without losing your mind in the process? It’s actually a lot less complicated than you’d think, but we’ll break it down into my top five tips.

1. Declutter

How many clothes do you have? Do you wear them all? Do you need them all? Are there any that are ripped, faded, or don’t fit? Then why are you keeping them?

Start going through your clothes and minimize the number of items that you have. An ideal set of clothes contains pieces that coordinate with each other and have enough pieces to cover one week of outfits. Of course you’ll have seasonal attire, depending on climate and work/formal attire. But I’ll guarantee there are many items that can be let go. The less you have, the less you have to wash.

2. Do it Daily

I once had someone tell me that “a load a day keeps laundry mountain away” and it’s stuck with me all these years. Most laundry machines will adjust to the load size, so why wait until you’ve filled the hamper? Doing a little bit of laundry, and by laundry I mean wash, dry, and put away, is much easier to manage than four large loads all at once. Which brings us to the next tip…

3. Complete the Cycle

Laundry is not throwing clothes into a machine and forgetting about it….and then running it again because your clothes are sour. Laundry is washing, immediately followed by drying, and then putting it away. Laundry is the complete cycle, not just the washing. Don’t start a task without following it through to the end, because that’s when overwhelming feelings often start to kick in and procrastination soon follows.

4. Keep it Simple

I don’t separate my clothes….at all. (Audible gasps) How is this possible? Can everyone do this? Is this witchcraft?

*Most* people can get away with not separating their clothes. The key is to buy similar fabrics, stay away from white clothes, and be mindful of potential colour bleeds. Always wash in cold water if you’re not going to separate and of course use a mild detergent.

This isn’t going to work for everyone, and from time to time we need to wash things by themselves (cloth diapers). But towels, sheets, the majority of our clothes, stuffed animals, curtains…yea, they all go in together and nobody has had an existential crisis because of this. Of course, use your own personal judgment on this, but after 25+ years of doing laundry, this has always been my preferred method.

5. To Fold, or Not to Fold?

I fold my own personal clothes and the linens. Do I fold anyone else’s? Nope!

The kids get called into the laundry room and carry their pile of fresh clothes to their rooms. Some of the kids will fold, but more often the clothes get stuffed into their basket or drawer and that’s that. I’ve let go of having perfectly folded clothes for the kids, because let’s be honest…Kids are kids and they have more important things to care about.

My other half hangs his clothes, so I just toss all of the items in a basket and put it in the bedroom. Most of the time they get put away before I even get a chance to help out….but I’m not going to complain about that.

Frankly, the fewer things I have to fold, the quicker the process. We also have some items that simply get hung on hooks (bath towels) or rolled up, which is a great activity for the younger kiddos to do…it’s not always pretty, but it does teach them perseverance and their type-A mother (me) patience.

Laundry is really one of those tasks that I don’t think anyone enjoys, but everyone has to do. While I’m doing laundry, I enjoy having nice music on in the background and a cup of coffee waiting in the wings. Podcasts and audiobooks are a great alternative to music, but between me and you…laundry doesn’t take much time at all if you do a little bit at a time.

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