How to do Laundry for a Large Family in Only 3 Days

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We are a large family of six, and it can be a daunting task to know how to do laundry for so many bodies. My husband likes to change his pants (at least) after work for some “chillin’ shorts.” And my daughters like to play dress up, and my three year old likes to “accidentally” get himself soaking wet at the sink, and my baby’s poop doesn’t like to stay confined to a diaper. Add those to clothing changes because of swimming, ballet class, or colder/warmer weather, along with the sheets, blankets, and towels, and the laundry piles up quite literally day after day.

But, I figured out a laundry system for doing laundry that is perfect for our family. It’s a tad lazy, child labor heavy, and completely manageable so that I’m not feeling overwhelmed by another daily to-do chore.

I wanted to help you in case you are drowning in laundry piles, by sharing how to do laundry for a large family in only three days.

This system may not be right for every family, but I am sharing lots of our laundry tips which many will find useful no matter how you do laundry. If the ideas below don’t work well for you, check out my follow-up post with some great ideas from others on how they do laundry in their homes. Only do laundry for three days? Sounds like an awesome way how to do laundry! And they are even a large family of six! I hate having piles of laundry everywhere and always doing laundry. This seems like a totally manageable laundry system!
My laundry system is pretty simple: I wash everything on the first day, fold and organize everything the second day, and hang and put it all away on the third day. Then I have four days of the week where I am not doing laundry at all (unless an incidental washing needs to occur). With this system I am not drowning in laundry piles. There is only one day of the week where you’ll see piles of laundry on my couch so that I can fold it.

How to do Laundry – Day 1

One day a week is designated as our Wash Day. For us this is Monday. On Monday I wash everything: my clothes, my husband’s, my twin girls’, my son’s, and my baby’s; dish towels; and sometimes even sheets and towels (occasionally I’ll wash these on a Saturday instead). To keep it simple and quick, I employ the following time saving principles when it comes time to do laundry:

1. Use the same laundry detergent for everything.

This means I am not paranoid if baby items gets put in with some adult pieces, or some lights with darks. Our kids don’t have sensitive skin, nor do we, so we just use whatever detergent we have (which is usually whatever is on sale).  We often use Arm & Hammer (ironically the variety that is free of perfumes and dyes and made for sensitive skin).

We’ve been using Arm & Hammer for quite a while, probably over a year. It does a better job than Tide did for us, and it costs a lot less. We also pre-treat with some Resolve, and sometimes (always to the kids stuff) add some OxiClean to the wash cycle.

Using the same detergent for everything saves time because I don’t have to do smaller loads of laundry or use special detergents, which would mean more loads and more time.

2. Separate whites and colors for the adult clothes (at least).

Laundry 101 on how to do laundry is to separate you light clothes from your dark clothes because dark clothes tend to eek out their dyes onto your nice bright whites, sometimes permanetly tinting them pink or some other color.

My husband and I wear a lot of white clothes, because we are endowed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which means we wear white undergarments/underwear underneath our clothes every single day. To make wash day and separating the whites and colored clothes easier, we have two laundry baskets in our bedroom, one for whites, one for colors. The kids are learning to separate their lights and darks, but it’s often just all mixed together (and I pull out their whites and stick in with ours).

But, if you didn’t want to separate them, you can always buy this product. Many people love them and swear by them!

3. If clothing is shed downstairs, it just goes into the laundry room.

Our bedrooms and laundry baskets are all upstairs, but our laundry machines are downstairs. Sometimes clothing will be shed downstairs. Instead of making a child (or my husband) take their clothing upstairs, we just put it in a small basket that sits on top of the washing machine so it’s there, ready for wash day. We also place dirty kitchen towels in there too. These random pieces of are added to the appropriate washes on Wash Day.

4. Wash Adult Clothes and Kid Clothes Separately

Washing just adult clothes together, and just kid clothes together, makes it easier to sort and organize on day two of my laundry system. It bugs me to find my husband’s sock after I had already packed our laundry basket to go upstairs. Also, sometimes kid’s clothes are extra gross and dirty, so I don’t want them washed with ours.

5. Shake out the wet clothes before putting them in the dryer.

I feel like shaking out wet clothes before putting them in the dryer is the secret step in how to do laundry properly. My mother always did this. I thought it silly as a child, but now I get it.

This has two purposes: the first purpose is to catch any lingering stains, especially on my kids’ clothes, which I can then treat thanks to this FREE Laundry Stain removal guide. If I took the clothes out of the washing machine a handful at a time, I’d likely miss them.

We don’t have a lot of money to spend replacing stained T-shirt, skirt, and pants for our kids. I want these clothes to last a good while, even if I bought them at awesome online consignment shops. So, if I can catch a stain that isn’t quite gone after its been washed, and save it from setting-in in the dryer, I am very happy later! I then pre-treat the stain (again, as needed), and throw it in with the next wash.

The second reason I do this, is to help with wrinkles and to speed up drying time.

When everything is matted together, squished up in a ball, it isn’t going to dry very fast. Also, if that pant leg is stuck up inside the jeans, it won’t dry well and when it does it will be a wrinkly mess. I don’t iron hardly at all (occasionally some clothes for church), so keeping things as wrinkle-free as possible is important. I (usually) take this time to shake them out, turn them right-side out, and button, zip, or snap things closed. This also helps speed up folding day when I catch some of the inside out clothing on day one.

*Bonus Tip on How to Do Laundry You Forgot About: Alida of The Realistic Mama shared this great tip with me: If you forgot you started some laundry, and a load sat in the washer a smidge too long, you can add a few drops of Purify Essential Oil to a wet wash cloth, throw it in the dryer with your wet (and slightly stinky clothes) and your clothes will actually come out smelling fresh, saving you from rerunning the washer!
 Only do laundry for three days? Sounds like an awesome way how to do laundry! And they are even a family of six! I hate having piles of laundry everywhere and always doing laundry. This seems like a totally manageable laundry system!

How to do Laundry – Day 2

Day two of doing laundry for a large family consists of folding and organizing all the clothes to proper baskets to then be taken up stairs to their respective rooms, to be hung and put away on day three. I actually really enjoy folding clothes. Day two of my system is probably my favorite.  The following are some things I do that make folding and sorting easier.

*Update: Many people have asked about where my clothes are between Day 1 and Day 2. Here’s the answer: they sit in four laundry baskets inside or just outside our laundry closet on the floor. Yes, our clothes are slightly wrinkly, but because we lay them all flat for a day before hanging up most of it up, they naturally de-wrinkle. We also don’t care if our clothes are a little wrinkly and no one has ever told us our clothes needed to be ironed.

1. If it is going to be hung, don’t fold it!

Seriously. Why waste that time and energy? In our home, all of our shirts are hung up. Instead of folding them, I just lay them out in piles, one pile for every member (twins count as one member in this case), and lay them flat. This also greatly speeds up hanging time on day three (I’ll explain it below).Only do laundry for three days? Sounds like an awesome way how to do laundry! And they are even a family of six! I hate having piles of laundry everywhere and always doing laundry. This seems like a totally manageable laundry system! Good laundry tips.

2. Fold pants according to owner.

Again, keeping piles according to owner makes sense for being able to put them away as quickly as possible the next day.

3. Throw all the socks in a pile. Match them up last.

Socks have a way of getting stuck inside of other clothes. Just keep them all in a pile and save them for last so you don’t have to backtrack when you find that stray one later.

Only do laundry for three days? Sounds like an awesome way how to do laundry! And they are even a family of six! I hate having piles of laundry everywhere and always doing laundry. This seems like a totally manageable laundry system!4. Enlist help from your kids (and maybe your spouse too).

My children are young – 6, 6, 3, and less than 1. But, the older three all help with the laundry. Sometimes my son flings around our nicely made piles, but we’re working on it. He likes to hand me things to fold, and he helps more on day three.

My daughters fold towels and blankets, turn pants and tops right side out, match and roll socks, button and snap items, fold bottoms, and lay shirts and underwear in neat piles. Helping mom with laundry is one of their weekly chores. And they do a great job. They now do almost all of it by themselves, and do it for all of the kids.

5. Load the Baskets the smart way.

Stack the laundry basket with folded items first (largest first like towels/sheets, then pants), then other folded items – socks, jammies, shorts, underwear, and lastly flop those piles of shirts, with the largest on the bottom, on top of the basket.

Only do laundry for three days? Sounds like an awesome way how to do laundry! And they are even a family of six! I hate having piles of laundry everywhere and always doing laundry. This seems like a totally manageable laundry system!

How to do Laundry – Day 3

Day three is my least favorite day, and the one that somehow doesn’t always get done on the third day of the week. I do not like hanging shirts. It’s like a pet peeve of mine. But, I have done a few things over the years to make it easier and quicker (because I would rather fold everything and put it in drawers than hang shirts for 15 minutes).

1. Hang the Shirts on the Bed

Because I have stacked all the items that need to be hung on day two of my laundry system, hanging shirts is so much simpler! I grab all the empty hangers in my closet and put them on my bed. Then I lift off those piles of shirts, and simply slip the hangers into the collars, one at a time, just flipping down the top shirt’s hanger, so I can access the shirt under it, and slip the next hanger in it, as so on. When I get a good stack of 6-10 shirts with hangers in them, then I put them on the hanging rod in the closet. And since they are organized by person already, I don’t have to jump around at all! I continue to do this until they are all hung and put away!Lay your shirts to be hung on the bed with hangers, and then slip them in the neck! Easiest way to hang up shirts!

2. Have your kids hang their shirts

My daughters have been helping me hang up their shirts for years. Not only is it great to get them involved in another household chore, but it works on some fine motor skills, balancing, and the ability to work through a little frustration. Of course I blaze through much more than do, using the above system, but having them help, even when they hang shirts up backward, or a little sloppy, is much better than me just doing it all “the right way.” I am all for teaching those life skills!

3. Have your kids put away their folded clothes

I also have my kids put away their nicely folded pants, underwear, and socks. It’s pretty easy for them, and we now have a nice big dresser that easily fits their clothes. It also helps them know where certain pieces of their clothing is, making it easier for them to dress themselves.

4. Put them all away in one sitting

I have found that splitting up hanging from putting away clothes is not a great idea. Because, it seems that none of clothes will get put in the drawers then! Just suck it up, and empty the entire basket. That way your new dirty clothes from the week can get off the floor, and have your bedrooms looking nicer, sooner.

And that’s it!

Be sure to check out my follow-up post for even more great laundry tips for managing your laundry system smarter, quicker, and cheaper!

I don’t know how other people do laundry in their homes, so tell me, how do you do laundry? Do you do it like I do and wash everything in a day? Or do you do a load every day? Do you have any other tips for speeding up the whole laundry process?

Comments

  1. says

    Wow Katelyn, you are so organized Brittany Bullen might start to worry we have some weird thing going on around here. I have a confession to make, I don’t sort kids and adult clothes and I don’t sort any colors. I don’t sort a thing, ha ha. I just throw it all in there, and yes, I use the same detergent for everything. I do really need a laundry day though to help streamline things around here. I also don’t fold things than require hanging–excellent tip and time saver. Matching up the socks last could probably save some time as well. I’m going to try it.

    Lauren

    • says

      Haha Lauren, thanks for bringing me in on the conversation. I actually wrote a post about our laundry system recently too! Although I’m not sure it really counts as a system, more like a short cut since I don’t sort or fold anything!

      Katelyn, I don’t know about you but I really struggle with keeping this whites white over time. I’ve tried everything and at this point I’ve pretty much accepted that they’ll go grey eventually. Any miracle solutions you’ve tried?

      Brittany

      • says

        Brittany – I am sorry! I don’t really. If you are talking about garments staying white, I don’t think it’s possible. I remember the lady who helped me pick them out telling me that they are actually bleached or something to make them white, and made it sound like they just will gray over time. But, I will keep my eye out. I keep meaning to try out this pit stain removing trick I’ve seen on Pinterest and see if it really does work. Want to use it on my husband’s work shirts. I’ll keep you posted if (or when) I do!

        Oh, and I’ll have to see what your laundry system looks like. 😉

        • Chicago Catt says

          My grandmother used to swear by bluing agent for keeping whites white in the laundry. As someone mentioned, natural cotton is actually a bit gray. To get that bright, crisp white add the bluing agent – tell the people at the temple too; drain cleaner is dangerous!

          Mrs. Stewarts Bluing Agent is on Amazon. You probably can find it locally and not have to pay for shipping.

          • Vicky says

            Hanging things in the sun can help whiten them. It was a tip I got for my cloth diapers.

            As for forgetting about a load in the washer, I do this all the time. No fancy essential oil needed, just a drop of liquid fabric softener on a wet cloth. Saves me rewashing.

      • Kris says

        I too hate the way my undergarments go gray. I asked about that when I purchased some recently. The cotton fabric will go gray if you put bleach in it. the natural fibers are NOT white, so they have to “dye” them that color. When you use bleach it takes out the color and they go gray.
        I have a son who works at one of the temples and I was with him one day and asked the laundry detail how they keep all the whites clean. They told me that they purchase the dollar store drain cleaner and use that as detergent. It keeps the clothes whiter. They use one bottle per load. I did that recently and it seemed to work….
        Also if you want your clothing to stay white you MUST sort whites from colors. The colors leach a little color into the white clothing every wash. I remember my grandmother’s clothing was always really white. She limited her load size and did more than one if she needed to in order for the clothing to be able to move around in the wash better so it will better clean. Hanging clothes (especially whites) outside to dry in the proper weather will also keep your clothing cleaner because of the bleaching effects of the sunshine.
        I hated doing laundry as a young mother too, and learned to keep it up better when I got sick and my visiting teachers came and took my laundry to help me out. I was extremely embarrassed and never let it get out of hand after that. Now I do laundry almost daily.

        • Jamie says

          A little trick I use for pit stains on white shirts is liquid cascade. Just put some on and rub in…stain gone after wash!

        • Kathy says

          Hi, My Grandma used La France

          Laundry Whitener~ she called it LA FRANKY, lol it is very cheap, and worked better than anything we have tried, we had 13 kids & 3 adults , So we had ALOT of clothes to do!
          Needless to say the kids all had to help, even little ones can separate clothes, dark colors , whites , towels & reds, when dried~ we put a load on a table everyone grabbed something & folded as well as they could & separated into piles, socks were together in 1 spot, then we separated by size, colors, etc. we than had a mating game. we matched the socks as best we could,rolled them then started plunking our brothers & sisters on top the heads with them, lol
          they wasn’t allowed to plunk back until then found so many matching sets & rolled them together so it was like a race to us! we all pitched in for housework that day too, we cleaned 1 room at time 1 time each week, from top moldings to under the beds & floors. Grandma & mom would pick up during the week but we would do dusting, window washing, moving furniture, etc on the cleaning /laundry day. we did not go outside or watch cartoons until we did our cleaning & laudry & everything was done . It sure didn’t hurt none of us to help out. Now that Im a Grandma and my kids & grandkids are older, they come over and help me out a few times a year , we have a cleaning party, everyone helps in the spring & fall , I make desserts, we cookout, clean & paint & eat all 16 of us, if the neighbors come over &we put them to work too :0 I have some good neighbors always willing to help:) We laugh & talk while we work, it makes it fun

      • Loring Hammond says

        To the commenters that don’t sort your loundry: If you wash your whites with your colors, especially jeans, they will go grey really fast. I don’t see how you don’t sort out the reds from the whites at least! Do you have a lot of pink undies?

        • Loring Hammond says

          We have a hanging bar in the laundry room. Clothes get hung straight out of the dryer. No wrinkles, no second step, no middleman. I always forget clothes in the laundry, and I’ve never found anything that really gets out the musty smell except a short rewash.

    • says

      I’m glad you enjoyed my tips Lauren! It’s all about working smarter, right? And sometimes I’m lazy and don’t separate whites and colored too. And usually random piece of kids get thrown in our loads and vice versa, but overall, keeping them separate speeds up our folding day.

      • Mary Garbutt says

        If you can train hubby and kids to fold socks together when they take them off, then when you are sorting, you just safety pin the pairs together at the toe, wash them in the correct batches, then when you sort, there is always a mate still attached! Ive always used diaper pins, they last much longer and dont bend and snag the sock. But they are running low now, and I cant find them anywhere.

  2. says

    I wrote about my laundry pet peeve as in – it never seems to go away! But I usually do my wash on Saturdays and sometimes I will iron – my mother’s things mainly because she cannot imagine not having ironed clothes. We mostly air dry as dryers are not so common in Croatia. Thanks for the tips!

  3. says

    I try to do one load of laundry or more a day. That way I don’t feel overwhelmed and it helps. I don’t have enough clothes to wait to do it all on one day. I also have different hampers for whites and colors. That way, when we take off dirty clothes, we either put them in the white hamper or the color. When I go to do laundry, I just throw them in. I must admit that I don’t “shake out” my clothes. I think it takes too long, but I have been victim to hidden stains. Do people actually use different detergent for different laundry? lol. Love that.

  4. says

    Great laundry tips. Sounds pretty similar to our house. We, too, do one detergent, one softener (we actually use white vinegar) , etc., for everything.

    I’m a one-day a week washer (obviously more when I had four little kids at home), but I couldn’t stand the constant laundry piles, so we started laundry day when they were little.

    One thing that’s made a huge difference for me has been a place to hang up clothing and to fold and sort as it comes out of the dryer. Being able to get it out and get it done all at once makes it go so much quicker and pretty much eliminates any wrinkling.

    My kids have been responsible for sorting dirty laundry since they could tell light from dark and they all are responsible for putting away their own–and for sorting that sock-and-underwear basket (we do that too). Now that they are in high school and getting ready to go off to college, they take turns doing the family laundry so they’ll be laundry experts when they go off on their own.

    • says

      If I had an actual laundry room or area, I think hanging and folding as you go would be a great idea. I still don’t want to hang things one at a time though. *shudders* Hanging is the worst to me for whatever reason! lol. And I have used white vinegar and baking soda (separate washes) for our towels before. It works really well! Thanks for your comment Marie.

      (I would have replied sooner, but I just rescued your comment from my spam folder! Glad I actually checked for real comments before permanently deleting them all!)

  5. says

    Do you have any suggestions for those of us that have to use a laundromat? I have to go to one at least twice a week. I would love to find a better way to do my laundry. Thanks.

    • says

      Im not sure how much it costs you to do your laundry each week, but for my daughter, it was actually cheaper to “RENT” a washer and dryer than what she was paying at the Laundromat. we have a few of those places here where we live.

  6. Gayle says

    Your system sounds good but it would drive me nuts having the same laundry hanging around for 3 days. I have a system where I do a white/light coloured load & a dark coloured load each Monday, Wednesday & Friday. I never use a dryer, so it’s hung on the line & as I take it off I fold it into the basket, I keep the things that hang up on top & hang them up straight away.

  7. Rachael says

    Here is how I do it, because I live in an area of the country where mold and mildew can happen after just a day or two and I am limited on my time. I do laundry every day. I don’t sort out colors from whites. I got rid of all dry clean only or hand wash clothing and pretty much everything that says “iron”. I limited my kids an myself to 10 outfits per size per season (these are bought every year by the bagful at thrift sore bag sales for $5.00 a bag this way I only spend $20.00 a year on clothing for my three kids I buy my spouse and myself two new work type outfits per year preferably at the thrift store). Every kid has a different color of sock for fast sorting and so that they can be paired up with any other sock they have. I have a rule, if you don’t put the unused clothes back in your drawer you lose the privilege of picking out your own clothes. (Because of this rule I no longer have extra laundry) I don’t fold my kids clothes because I am their mother not their maid and if they want them folded when they get older I will be more than happy to teach them at that point in time but for now I am a full time student and only have 24 hours a day like every other human. For my kids I have one drawer for tops, one drawer for bottoms and dresses and jackets hang in outfits so that I don’t have to help them in the mornings when time is limited. The school jumpers, shirt and leggings and corresponding flowered headbands all hang together as an outfit.
    Bedding gets done every two weeks, pillow cases get done every week. Towels get done every week. I use a homemade detergent made with dawn dish soap that gets everything out. I whiten with lemon juice and remove odors with vinegar.
    I do not fold my bras and underwear but I do match my socks and fold my husbands underwear. the rest of our clothes are either folded or hung.

    • says

      Wow! You really have simplified everything! I have often thought about limiting the wardrobe too. Saves you money and time. Sounds like you got a well-oiled machine in your house as far as laundry is concerned! Way to go!

  8. says

    Very interesting laundry system! It seems to really work for your family, but I wear a lot of dress clothes that have to be ironed anyway. I may to have to try and implement this at my house. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Stacey Updyke says

    I love this idea but don’t your clothes get really wrinkled if you don’t fold or hang straight out of the dryer. Wrinkles drive me crazier. I’m constantly do laundry and am sick of it!

    • says

      Yes, some of the more delicate fabrics do, but most of our clothes are just T-shirts and jeans, and don’t get very wrinkly. I’d experiment and see if it might work for you.

  10. Ammy Do says

    Wow!! You are amazing, I wish I could do that, but I don’t have a dry machine. I have a lot of white clothes too, because my husband and me are LDS too.
    I have to wait for clothes dry outside. And I have laundry almost all the week

  11. Sarah says

    Although this tip messes with your schedule, try hanging up the shirts when they are still wet. You are going to do it anyways, and then any stains don’t set, and your shirts last way longer too! It’s what I do, and I never really throw out shirts anymore!

    • Theresa says

      omigosh, that’s exactly what I do! Saves a step, saves energy. and is easier on the clothes making them last longer. I don’t buy dry clean clothes, or clothes that require ironing. There are way too many pretty tops that don’t require ironing! Anyway, i wash them, then stand at the washer for a few minutes putting them on hangers. I reach in, grab one item, shake it out (just like you are doing for the dryer), but then I put it on a hanger. I put leave these in the utility room, then the next day, go get my dry clothes and put them in the closet. It works so well! I do the same with bras and underwear, except I hang them on the side of the laundry basket. Again, the next day, I throw them back into the laundry basket and put them away. Not using heat on bras and underwear also makes them last longer. I do throw in jeans, shorts and t-shirts in the dryer, since those will be folded, and jeans take too long to dry, they will get smelly. But overall, hanging clothes straight out of the washer saves me a step, saves the clothes, and saves energy! Win-win-win!

  12. Jojo says

    Love these tips. Our spare room is horrendous and I hate hate hate folding.
    Just a question.. your header said if it’s not going to hang don’t fold it?? I still fold what I don’t hang, because it fits easier. But I love your routines with putting the hanging things last on the pile. Need to adapt this.
    Thanks for the advice!

    • says

      Sorry! I realize that was a typo! Oops! I meant to say if it’s going to be hung, don’t fold it! I still fold all my other clothes that will be going in drawers. Oops. Good luck getting your laundry under control Jojo!

  13. says

    I love this, however i’m curious how you would alter this schedule if you didn’t have a dryer? We don’t have a dryer and I have to hang all laundry. In the spring summer and fall, it’s not much of a problem but in the winter it takes hours and sometimes even overnight to dry cloths on the line and I don’t have any space to hang it up in my house.

  14. Cindy says

    I have a family of 5 and we could never do laundry this way. We simply do not own enough clothes. Condensing laundry to one day does not alter the number of loads that are done, so I do 6 loads a week roughly. If I only washed one day I’d have 6 loads to wash at once- no way! And then six loads to fold in one day?!

    I do one load per day, usually at night.
    If I’m too tired to fold at night it sits in dryer and I fold in AM.

    Clothes go directly in machine – no hamper no sort.

    My oldest can fold. All my kids put their small pike away-once a day makes for small piles.

    Husband irons his own shirts.

    Sheets towels done on weekends and kids make own bed when old enough.

    I am fortunate to have a laundry room on 2nd floor! Makes a world of difference when doing at night! Plus I have a lot of helping hands.

    • says

      Sounds like your system works well for you! I kind of like that clothes go directly in the wash machine… But I know that would be easier with the laundry facilities upstairs where the bedrooms are.

  15. Mo Koo says

    I actually really love doing the laundry. Laundry and dishes are my two favorite household chores (prob the sense of completion when the laundry room and sink are empty).

    Anywho, we only have one little one so laundry is not too overwhelming. But once the brood increases we will be applying this little tip I got for washing baby socks. Use a delicates bag for socks and undies! Each person in the family gets their own and through the week all socks and underware go into the the bag. Then simply wash in the bags for automatic sort when they come out of the dryer. Pairing is up to the kid. One whole load with no work required! Just what we all want.

  16. phoe23nix says

    Thanks for all the tips! Even though it’s just my husband and me we still generate a lot of laundry, because in addition to our work and relax clothes we go to the gym regularly.

    Our machines are on the first floor and bedrooms on second. I have a basket and delicate bag in our room. In the laundry room I have another delicates bag and four baskets: lights, darks, whites and an empty one to transport the laundry to the dryer since that machine is in the downstairs closet (long story). If dirty clothes are taken off or unloaded downstairs they’re sorted at the moment. Every few days I take our bedroom basket down to be sorted.

    Mornings I’ll usually throw a load in the washer before work (after showers) or before the gym. By the time I get home that load’s ready for the dryer. I’ll put that in right away so it’ll be working while I’m doing other things. I keep extra hangers in the closet to hang work shirts, sweaters and pants as they’re done.

    Keeping on top of the folding is where the laundry monster has been winning lately. Sometimes I’ll fold before work but usually daily prep gets in the way, even though I already do most of the latter the previous night.

    The other tip I can offer is I pair my socks together with safety pins. I keep the pin in while wearing –it’s not bothersome. Then when I put the pair in the laundry I simply pin them back together. Occasionally the pin comes loose during the cycle, but usually the pairs of socks come out of the dryer ready to be put away. This method has saved me sooo much time over the past five years or so. Even though my husband prefers his socks folded, mine are super easy.

    • says

      Great tips! I agree that finding a good system for actually folding and putting them away is the real battle! Washing and drying is the easy part. I’ve never heard the safety pin idea, but I’m sure that can save time! I would more worry about ripping a hole in my sock doing that. Has that been a problem?

  17. marla says

    When my kids were young (3 yr old twins and a 1 yr old), my husband and I both worked full time on different shifts plus I pulled weekends and call @ the hospital. Laundry became an overwhelming SaturdayIevent. Biggest hurdle was sorting, then navigating the piles – washer/dryer next to kitchen, not in a basement. After purchasing 2 sets of mesh laundry bag hamper stands, we initiated the color game: white bag for whites, another for light colors, brights, darks, etc. Using the kids ‘ markers I made color matching strips which I adhered to the upright tube of the hamper frames. Whenever the children undressed, they matched the clothing to the color strip, stood back on the “free throw line”, and tossed clothes in the appropriate hamper. As a bag filled, I would launder a load or two midweek. This greatly diminished the weekend piles, and made the drudgiest of chores a game.

    • says

      Awesome!! And I love the color coding match up game! I’m glad you figured out something that worked better than the ALL in one day marathon (and on a day that should be your relaxing day off!). Congrats on twins too. 🙂

    • plant4lover says

      We used a system similar to yours when my kids, 3 boys, were young, with 3 upright laundry baskets in the hallway outside the bedrooms. One for whites, one for mediums like dress shirts and slacks, and one for darks like jeans, dark socks, and dark t-shirts. Eventually we had to add a fourth basket for athletic and sports clothing. The boys would deposit their clothes in the appropriate basket after changing and on their way to the bathroom at bath time. It was easy to see when a basket was full and a load needed to be done. I usually did one or two wash loads a day, often in the evening. I hate to iron and so I usually tumble clothes only partly dry and then hang them up to finish drying overnight, giving them a good ‘snap’ before putting them on the hangers and making sure the collars and plackets were smoothed out. We installed 2 lengths of electrical conduit pipe fro the bottom of the wooden rafters for plenty of drying space. Then the slacks, hung on slacks hangers to dry, are very crisp looking and can be folded neatly for the boys or hung on different hangers for mine or my husbands work slacks. And the shirts are already on hangers, so they got carried up from the basement ready to go into their closets. Each boy had a different style athletic sock so we could tell whose were whose. For the twins’ clothes we did resort to an initial on the clothing tag to keep track of individual clothes since they wore the same size and they didn’t share clothes.

      Folding of the underwear and socks would usually be done in the family room or bedrooms and the rest of the family would often help find their items and fold them. The clothing that was hung up to dry I would fold and put in the individuals room to be put in their drawers by them.

      Sheets and towels get done once a week. Sheets come off the bed and go directly to the washing machine or laundry room floor to wait their turn. Many times they go from the washer, to the dryer, and then right back onto the beds so no exact folding is needed.

      Although my kids are no longer in the house, my husband and I still have the hallway clothes basket system and it’s easy to tell when a load of clothes needs to be done. Now he will carry a basket to the laundry room and start a load. Also, by the time my boys were teenagers, they were also participating in the laundry system when requested. It was good training for when they went away to school and lived on their own.

    • says

      If I leave them in the basket for more than a day, yeah, they start to get wrinkly. But, I’m not too picky about wrinkles… And most lessen after being hung. But, yes, ideally you want them to get folded or hung within about a day or you’ll have wrinkly clothes. Shaking out the clothes before you put them in the dryer helps some too.

  18. Kh says

    We have to use a laundromat right now so we are always behind on laundry. I’ve tried multiple ways to keep up. The best way for us was having time frames. Mon-Wed was kid clothes. Thurs and Friday was household laundry. Saturday and Sunday was for adult laundry. I had one basket for each category. I don’t separate colors from whites unless I have the patience for it that day or if I have something brand new that could dye the whites. I will wash the clothes and separate in to piles immediately so things don’t get wrinkled (laid out flat) then put away. If I stick to this, I don’t have much laundry to take care of. But since we have a laundromat here and run out of laundry money, we are constantly drowning in clothes. I hate it.

    I actually really like that u have a laundry day or days. We always have laundry everywhere. I’m hoping once we have our own washer and dryer I can just wash a load whenever I feel like it. When I had one kid I would wash when our one laundry hamper was full. Now that I have three kids and three hampers its not as simple as that.

  19. Kaci says

    I am not a stay at home mom, so I don’t have the luxury of spreading laundry out over three days. I do all this in one day. It comes from being in college and waiting until I was completely out of clothes to go to the laundry mat to do laundry. Now with a family of five I make it work. We just make sure we have enough of socks, underwear, and outfits to get us through at least 10 days. No I don’t go ten days between washes…but you never know when accidents might happen. We usually spend one weekend day at home just hanging out. So I dedicate that day to laundry and general housework. This forces me to wash everything, dry everything, fold or hang everything, and put it all away in one day. I cannot tell you what a relief it is to not have to worry about laundry all week long. I am not good at a lot of things when it comes to being organized and keeping up with housework…but when it comes to laundry I am a freak.

    • says

      Nice! I think it’s good in a lot of ways to have a big cleaning day all together as a family. I’m assuming you have the whole family chip in to really make this system work so well for you. And it’s okay to have one things sorted out in your life. 😉

  20. Jane says

    I use the same laundry for all of my clothes, too! Rockin’ Green Soap is super great at getting stains and whatever funkiness out of everything and I don’t have to use much per load. It’s really only a couple of tbsp. per load. And I love that the scents are so fun! It makes laundry a bit more bearable when my soap smells like watermelon or lavender mint. You should check it out!

  21. Anna says

    I loved the hanger trick. I will definitely try that! Only advice I would give is some my friend gave to me when my kids were little…I used to iron kids school clothes everyday … She told me to remove clothes from dryer right away(still hot) one piece at a time.. Put on top of closed washer and flatten with ur hands quickly(like an iron) smoothes out all of the wrinkles. Ironed look. Then I place into their individual baskets. Put away the next day. Has saved me so much time!! Haven’t used an iron in years. Obviously if u can’t be there when dryer buzzer goes off,simply run for couple extra minutes when u are ready.

    • says

      Glad to you liked my hanger trick! It has saved my sanity! And great idea about the school clothes. My kids aren’t in school yet, but I could see how for certain items this would help.

  22. Nicole says

    I’m a little confused about the Day 1—>Day 2 transition. Where is all yor laundry overnight between washing and folding? In a pile on the couch or in a basket? Doesn’t it end up all wrinkled?

    • says

      Yeah, usually it hangs out in a basket overnight. And I don’t have fancy clothes that I really care if they are wrinkled or not. Mostly just jeans, shorts, tees, and sweats around here. Never bothered me. And I have only noticed major wrinkling when Day 2 happens several days later. Lol. Most are great the next day.

  23. Elizabeth Christensen says

    When my children were little and it was so hard to keep up with everything, I gave everyone a basket on the floor near the dryer and sorted clothes straight out of the dryer into that person’s basket. If it never got folded, at least we all knew where to find it and the system could keep flowing. I found that I really liked keeping the clothing separated by person. So, when I moved, I made sure that everyone had room for their own hamper in their closet, and I have four in my room to separate whites and darks for both myself and my husband. (I use hampers that are made of 3 or 4 bags hanging on a frame.) Everyone knows that their clothes need to be washed when they are running out of clothes, and I hear this wonderful question, “Mom, can I do my laundry?” I help when needed, but having mom fold clothes for them is a surprise and a treat, rather than an expectation. I try to keep up with my husband’s clothes, but if I get behind, he knows where they are and can do it himself. The kids collect towels for me as needed, and I wash them and ask someone to fold and put away (usually during chores around lunch or dinner time). I also help with mixed loads after they play in the snow or the creek. We have 7 kids and one on the way, and laundry is never a mountain in my way, even though the machine is running pretty much every day but Sunday.

    • says

      That’s awesome Elizabeth! If we had a more designated laundry space (instead of a closet) I could see this working, well and if my twins really had separate clothes. 😉 I think it’s necessary to get the kids involved, especially in a large family.

  24. Dana says

    I have a question…how do you keep your shirts from wrinkling when they’re sitting around waiting on folding day? If I take them out of the dryer and throw them in a basket, they’re a wrinkled mess and I have to throw them back in the dryer. Thanks for the article!

    • says

      Several people keep asking me this, and I have to wonder if my clothes are really that wrinkly? Honestly, if you get to the clothes the next day, most of mine are just fine. But, maybe I’m okay with slight wrinkles, and maybe my clothes aren’t that nice anyway. 😉 I know some people have said that they just fold the clothes as they come out of the dryer or hang them. Do whatever you feel you need to do!

  25. Terri Malone says

    Thanks for the tips I have a horrible time with laundry, we also use one detergent although I do have to be careful since my girls have extremely sensitive skin we use one fabric softener and the same sheets, one thing that helps me is my daughter who is ten she wanted more responsibility so she has started doing laundry and is wonderful at doing her and her sisters.

  26. Sarah Lawn says

    When my 4, now adult, children were young my washing machine and dryer were in a cupboard in the bathroom as we were short of space in the kitchen and English homes didn’t always have laundry/utility rooms. I would wash whenever the laundry basket was full, dry on the line outside or if it was raining, in the tumble dryer. When collecting from the line, I would fold as I collected, but the tumbler clothes would get put in a basket before sorting. My pet hate was putting away in the drawers, so each person had a colour coded box. Eldest -red, next – blue, third – green and youngest – yellow. Their clothes would be sorted in to their box in the bathroom, then it was up to them to put away. Hanging clothes – I hang shirts on a hanger when they come out of the washer, then they either hang on the line outside or from a line inside. They are hung on hangers straight after if they are tumbled.
    I rarely sort whites/colours and tend to wash most things on the same temperature. Our clothes need refreshing rather than cleaning nowadays!

  27. says

    There are only two of us, and I do the laundry every other day!

    I read somewhere that this would work for kids: Each child has his/her own colored laundry basket. Each child is responsible for putting dirty clothes in his/her own basket. Then, when the basket is full, bring the basket to the washing machine for Mom/Dad to wash the clothes. Mom/Dad wash/dry/fold the clothes and put them in the appropriate basket. The child takes the basket, with the clean clothes, and brings it to his/her own room and puts the clothes away. Of course, older kids could help to fold the clothes.

    Thanks for the tips!

  28. Shelley says

    “Kids clothes are gross”?!? If you just washed them, they shouldn’t be gross.

    This would only work if you don’t mind wrinkles, don’t mind massive piles of clothes in you house for three days, and you have three full days to dedicate to laundry. Oh, and you don’t !Ind you clothes colors fading overtime.

    I do our laundry on Thursday, all 5 or 6 loads. Whites/lights, reds, colors, black/darks, and jeans. Sometimes my husband’s work clothes get their own separate load. When one load comes out of the dryer, it gets folded (the 8yo folds and puts his own away) and put away.

    • says

      Kids clothes are gross before I wash them… With mud stains, marker marks, food remnants, potty marks, etc. Why do you think I wash their clothes in the first place? And this system does work for me… And my clothes really aren’t that wrinkly, or I don’t care. Either one. And my clothes are cheap, so if they fade over time they fade. Life moves on. And I again don’t really care about wearing faded clothes. But I am a pretty low maintenance, not into fashion, person.

      Your system seems like it works well for you! I am glad it does, and that your son helps too. 🙂

  29. says

    This is almost exactly how I’ve been doing it for years. Except I have 5 kids and do it all in one day. And I do the sorting on my bed, so I know it has to be done before I go to bed. I like laundry when it has a good system.

    • says

      I agree! Laundry isn’t so daunting when you have a system which you are dedicated about doing. Makes it much more enjoyable for sure. Congrats on doing laundry for seven people in one day!

  30. Diane says

    I love your ideas and to each their own. I like reading for education to learn a better way. I also enjoy knowing how something works that causes the improvement. That being said, here are some helpful educational tips and comments:

    I use Arm and Hammer w/ Oxi-clean. I like the results and the Oxi-clean is an oxidizer to whiten and remove stains. I have tried so many others, that I have quit changing. If you do have stains that are from food, grass, mud….I used Era for the enzyme action. Enzymes break down the stain first so the soap can lift it off the garment; I also pretreated my children’s stains with an enzyme detergent like Era and let them sit to allow it to work prior to washing and exposing to water. So to know some chemistry and how ingredients work is very profitable and makes life easier when choosing the right products to use. These days with Oxi-clean, it has changed laundry and cleaning styles for some, so I have changed brands as well.

    A few more educational tips are:
    1) If you use Oxi-clean, do NOT use bleach. They do not mix and are not compatible and will not produce a better product. Use one or the other. So, if I use Arm & Hammer w/ Oxi-clean, I do not use bleach. If I use a regular detergent such as Era, then I use bleach. I can also use regular detergent and then use scoops of Oxi-clean if I buy Oxi-clean in it’s own container instead of as an additive to the detergent. It saves space to buy it as an additive for me since my kids are grown and gone now.
    2) Vinegar is a base, which is a rinse. It removes residues. Therefore, it should be added during the final rinse cycle to remove soap from garments, towels, sheets, heavy items; it then makes them seem brighter without any extra soap remaining on them before drying. It also helps with odors, but not mold. It is used to rinse floors, crystal, and china of soap residue also thus making them more clean…squeaky clean and crystal will shine.
    3) Mold is damaging to everything. It needs moisture to grow and live; yes, it is a living cell and reproduces. It can cause damage to a person’s respiratory system; allergies, asthma, etc. Bleach is the only killer of mold. The acid will eat and destroy the living cells. The problem is, the mold cells reproduce rapidly as they die in trying to breed and save itself. So, one must prevent any moisture reoccurring or the mold will return. It is very tough and it is a health problem in homes, buildings, laundry, coats, bedding, pet bedding, birdseed, etc. It ruins everything. Make sure clothes are dry….really dry before folding and storing. Darkness also promotes dampness in closets, drawers, bathrooms, etc. Light and air movement helps prevent dampness. There are products made that can be bought to place in closets, cabinets, etc. to absorb moisture and dampness also. My biggest trouble is towels, so I use towel racks and bars, not hooks so the air can circulate and dry the towels. I also run the fan to help circulate and make sure towels are throughly dry and cool before I fold. We never place towels in hampers but drape them over something to hang; all towels. When putting away clean, fresh towels, placing them in another place instead of inside the bathroom where steam from the shower/tub is creating moisture, also is a prevention of mold. You can always grab a towel or two as you enter the bathroom to bathe if you use a shelf, closet, cabinet outside of the bathroom. I do not leave towels or clothes in a basement as basements always have moisture, thus mold spores are always ready and waiting to grow. Low temps also cause moisture to gather, so keep room temps up to dry the air and stop mold. I am allergic to mold, so I have to take action all over my house to keep my lungs ok and my kids safe. Wet carpet and rugs, sleeping bags, window ledges, etc are a threat to health as well.
    4) I use Dawn dishwashing liquid for grease because it has a degreaser added to the soap. I use it on oily stains like pizza, sausage, oil, butter, etc. I treat the stains then let sit, rinse then treat with Arm & Hammer detergent, let sit, then wash with proper color of the load.
    5) I do sort clothes that are dirty by whites, lights, darks (navy, brown, black, gray), reds, colors…pastel , bolds/brights. Even though I sort many colors when my kids were home, we ruined less laundry with less mixing and color bleeding. I use warm water for whites, all the rest is cool and cold. I do not use hot. With the proper ingredients to the laundry detergents now that work for specific reasons, using them has kept our clothes their best in cooler water and little if any fading at all. We had more trouble when pastels and brights were mixed in with other piles; also if clothes were new and not washed first but that changed quickly, thus #6.
    6) Wash all new clothes prior to wearing, used clothes too! Why new? All new clothes have a finish with formaldehyde. I am allergic to it and had severe skin reactions so the doctor educated me on this. It irritates baby skin, sensitive skin, elderly skin also. Why used? There are many kinds and types of detergents and additives to products. One is sawdust which was common in powder detergents. This helps get the clothes cleaner having a “roughness” action. I am allergic to sawdust along with many other materials, so if something was washed in a detergent with an additive I am allergic to, I would break out. Washing it first ,removes the harmful residue and prevents reactions and dr. visits and skin on babies, elderly, and sensitive skin are free from pain and damage.
    7) I washed when we had a full load. I also folded at a time when I needed to relax and sit. If the children were napping, that was fine, as they grew they would be up and help. They learned their vocabulary when I would say item name, colors, sizes, who it belonged too, where to put it, how to fold it, etc. They learned categorizing and matching/pairs skills very early and language (such as pair of pants, long sleeves, numbers, sizes) well. When they were 8, they made their own bed by pulling covers up, age 10-12 did their own laundry. If they didn’t have enough for a full load, they asked other family members to add theirs to the washer.
    8) After washing, we shook out each item, separating it as an individual piece, plus the prevention of wrinkles due to twisted, knotted garments. It helped us save money as the clothes would dry faster, toss freely inside dryer, less knotting and damage to clothes, and we could then hang up shirts, dresses, tops immediately while hot/warm and as they cooled we never had to iron again! I also threw away any garment that was not permanent press or wrinkle release, etc. To make garments permanent press, they use formaldehyde chemicals. When a person irons a pre-treated permanent press items, the heat from the iron removes the treatment and the cloth material needs re-ironed each time from then on. So, I am careful to buy used clothing at thrifts, etc if I see the garment has been pressed as it will not be wrinkle free and I do not want to take time to iron each time. Now I check the garment labels to read the cotton % and other fabrics and know what to buy or avoid.
    9) We had laundry baskets in all rooms, but the “sorting hampers” were placed by the washer and dryer, so they had to keep their baskets emptied if their clothes were to be washed in a full load. If they didn’t have clothes, it was because they didn’t sort their dirty basket often enough.
    10) I used to use sheets in the dryer, until the sheets would leave stain marks on my blouses, dresses, pants, etc. Those stains looked like grease marks. I now use the Bounce bar that is stuck inside the dryer or pour the liquid in the rinse cycle. The sheets then became history, except I still place them inside drawers, suitcases, closets, backpacks,etc. as a sachet (I also use powder puffs w/ scented powder).
    11) Baking soda is an enzyme booster. It boosts the cleaning action to help the enzyme eat away the stains so the items is cleaner. It is to be used with a detergent w/ enzymes…Era, Tide, All, Gain, Purex, etc. Add baking soda to the wash cycle. Some detergents you buy already have added the baking soda, thus you need to read the ingredients to see.
    12) Add soap to washer when it has already filled and ready to agitate. If you add soap to the bottom of the washer then clothes or clothes the pour soap directly on top, it is known to fade whatever places it touches for very long, so best to dilute the detergent first w/ water then add clothes or fill with clothes and water first and add last to wash. I have really had to train my children on this to keep from fading/ruining clothes.
    13) If the load is quite dirty, I add a couple of towels to rub on the clothes during agitation to help clean them better. Don’t overload though as it can also be too heavy.
    14) Towels will retain detergent more than any other items due to the fabric density, so use less detergent. I use 1/2 the recommended detergent because it cleans as well with my knowledge of ingredients and how they work. I get double the usage before buying more. I usually throw in a towel in each load if it matches the color to help with the cleaning and saving of detergent and it will have less soap residue with better rinsing than with more towels. The heavy items like towels, robes, socks, bedding do not go into a load of their own for that reason but I also consider how delicate/strong the other items are as well. I don’t want to over fill any load with heavy items; sharing have items between loads is better on the machine too and helps get a full load sooner!
    15) I don’t usually rinse out pretreatments prior to washing. That helps save money when it is included in the wash cycle with the load. Some items I soak in a plastic container for amount of minutes, or overnight, then dump the whole container into the washer, fill w/ water, add a little more detergent to help the load, add clothes, and you saved on water and detergent. Sometimes I soak in the washing machine too, depending on what size it is to soak.
    16) I hang a rod over the washer and dryer, or an over-the-door holder/arm that sticks our like a long hook to hang my clothes on as I take them out of the dryer and hang them up. I screwed a towel bar under a shelf above the dryer to hold all the empty hangers. We hang our empty hangers on the side of our hampers and carry then to hang when we sort clothes.
    17) When the children were teenagers, I had to change hampers into tall plastic kitchen trash bins. I bought two; a large dark-colored one for identifying darks/colors and a large white one for placing whites/lights/pastels into.
    18) Lastly, clothes always wash better in soft water. Hard water has mineral deposits and it doesn’t allow the chemicals maximum action for cleaning. Soft water makes whiter whites, and cleaner clothes. Soft water also helps prevent any rust stains on clothes. Make sure your softener is not low on its ingredients to perform its best.

    I did enjoy reading all the comments and loved the suggestions. I hope to have helped others understand how things work a little better and a few ideas someone might find helpful too.
    (Apologies for the length, if I made mistakes, or left something out. )

    Diane

    • says

      WOW! That was like the best comment ever!! Thank you for taking the time to share all your wisdom! Great advice here for sure. I already use Arm and Hammer, but might have to look for the one with the Oxi Clean already added (though I use the big box of Oxi Clean). Great tip though for the Era, Vinegar, Baking Soda, and Dawn use though!

  31. says

    When we had a family closet, I normally did laundry twice a week & everything went into the closet and was laid flat. The next day, I’d match all the socks, put away underwear, and get everything hung up. Very little of our stuff gets folded. Now, that we split the kids into separate rooms, everything gets hung up/folded/put away right away because I don’t have anywhere to just leave it that they won’t mess or a cat won’t lay on the clean clothes.

    Where do you store all your clean clothes between the time they come out of the dryer until the end of Day Three when they get put away?

    • says

      Between day one and day two they sit in the basket, near the laundry closet (which is tucked in the corner by our backdoor). After the clothes are folded we take the baskets upstairs (so little people won’t dump out the clothes so they can play with the baskets, because they LOVE to play with the baskets – it’s so much fun!) and put them in their respective bedrooms, either on top of the dresser (in the kids room), or just at the foot of our bed in the master bedroom.

  32. Nicole says

    I used to do laundry once a week when I worked. Now, I do one load each morning. Sometimes, I run a load on my way to bed. That way all I have to do in the morning is transfer the load to the dryer. Sometimes I don’t have a full load, but I feel it is worth it not to get behind on laundry. On days when there really doesn’t seem to be enough to wash, that’s when I wash blankets, curtains, pet bedding, pillows and so on.
    I also put clothes on hangers the same way you do. I love it! I do separate clothes not only by color, but by weight. For instance, I will wash jeans & towels together because they are both heavier weight fabric. You should do this if you use the automatic dry cycle on your dryer. Otherwise you are over drying the lightweight clothes and they will not last as long.
    Now, after everything is folded, I put it all back in the basket in reverse order of how I distribute it throughout the house. Kitchen towels first, since that is the closest to the laundry room. Next would be hall closet for bath towels. My dresser, each drawer and so on. Last, would be my husband’s dresser.
    One other thing. I was noticing a lot of greasy looking spots on our clothes that I really couldn’t see until they were dry. By then, it had already gone through the dryer. I decided to clean my washer; something I had seen on several blogs. I never realized how dirty my washer was (10 years). Since then, I have not seen any more greasy looking stains.

  33. Jennifer says

    I enjoyed reading about your laundry system, so thanks for sharing!

    We have a great system, when we actually do it. My kids are older, so it’s a bit different than yours. First, we pared our clothes down so everyone had outfits for one week each season, plus a couple of spares for extra changes. Each family member has one basket (ours are color coded per kid, so I know whose is whose), and all of their dirty clothes goes into it. Each person has a day of the week to do their laundry: 4yo girl Monday; 10 yo boy #1 Tuesday; 10yo boy #2 Wednesday; 13yo boy Thursday; the husband and I Friday and/or Saturday. The night before their laundry day, during their bedtime routine, their basketful goes into the washer (no sorting), along with their sheets and towel (we have two sets, so the clean spare is immediately put on), soap is added (we use the pods so there is no staining from it sitting on the clothes… and so my kids don’t make a huge mess with detergent!), and the washer timer is set to go off 8 hours later. The next morning, on their actual laundry day, they move the clothes from washer to dryer during their morning routine. Because of the timer, the washer starts in time to be finished when we wake up, but isn’t sitting yucky and wet all night. We homeschool, so clothes are removed from dryer, folded, hung up, and put away either after lunch or after school is finished (or on a good morning, after breakfast before we ever start school!). Since each load is all one person’s laundry, and each person only has one kind of socks, there is never a need to match them. If you have two clean ones, they’re a match; put them on and go! I do our sheets, towels, and miscellaneous laundry whenever the washer and I are both available at the same time. 😉

    I have twins, too, and we finally separated their clothes a couple of years ago. One would do laundry so he could wear his favorite shirt, and of course, his brother would get to it first. Or, one would do laundry regularly while the other felt no need to because clothes were still magically appearing in his closet. Now, too, I can tell which one leaves their clothes all over the floor.

    Your post made me laugh… I loathe hanging shirts, too! I would rather fold clothes all day long than hang them for 10 minutes. What’s up with that?! It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever!

    I really like your idea to shake everything out before it goes into the dryer. I sometimes have a wrinkling issue, usually when something is all twisted funny, and I bet that would take care of that.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment Jennifer! Gives me some good ideas for the future as my twins get older and as we plan on homeschooling too. 🙂 We really need to get our girls another set of sheets and mattress protectors for their bed. It would make things easier when it comes to washing their sheets! And yes, what is up with the hanging up shirts vs folding?? I am glad I am not alone on that one!

  34. Jessica says

    I use to hate hanging clothes and then I switched to the process to gathering all hangers before starting to fold then out the shirts on the hangers while folding vs stacking and hanging them later.

    Easier and gets done earlier.

    Thanks for the post

  35. Lyra Good says

    I have six, and I wish we could do just one day of washing! This is incredible though. My kids all have a day where they wash their clothes with mom, so I’m doing kid’s laundry Monday-Saturday and mommy and daddy’s laundry on Sunday’s. I love folding, like you, and I also love putting clothes away so I often have trouble letting the kids help 😉

    Keep being awesome!
    LG

  36. says

    Hi Katlyn! Great system! When our kids were small I confess I used the pack n play as a gait laundry basket full of clean clothes to fold! Not so great!

    I have learned to do one load a day as needed. It works for me. I use old laundry baskets to sort the clothes. When a basket is full, it’s time to do a load. I do separate loads for whites, darks, and lighter colored outerwear. I also keep a separate basket just for reds/oranges/pinks to prevent them fading on others.

    One thing I found to save money was to stop buying plastic laundry baskets. They break too soon. Instead I use those plastic storage tubs with the flip to lids. They seem to last forever. And if we are taking a road trip and need a box for transporting something I just use one of those storage tubs.

  37. says

    Thanks for the information! Laundry day is usually a day long process, so I have to plan either a day off or one of my weekend days to devote to doing laundry. These tips should help make laundry day go from a day long activity to last only a few hours. I really liked your tip to shake wet clothes before putting them in the dryer. I’m not sure if it has to do with how well my dryer works, or if my clothes are just that wet, but usually it takes two or three cycles to get my clothes dry enough. Shaking them out seems like a good way to make them a little dry so that it would only take one or two cycles for them to be dry enough.

    • Tonya Corbin says

      Tip for drying clothes, 1. try an extra spin cycle if your machine does that, if you notice your clothes are feeling really wet after the washer is done. 2. Throw in a dry towel, I use a full body one, in the dryer w/ your wet clothes. Use dryer balls (foil, wool felted, plastic balls, etc). While shaking out clothes, check to see if anything shouldn’t get dried in the dryer or only needs a quick amount of time, I lay them on top, the heat of the machine helps them dry faster. For the ones that only need a little bit of time, while I check my clothes coming out of the dryer, anything that still feels damp goes back in w/ the items that only need a little bit of time or less heat. Hope these tips help.

      I also have my kids help, sort afterwards into piles of each persons items. My husbands hang up items get laid over a chair while we sort. We each put our own stuff away. I do help my twin boys, because they get distracted easily, they will be 6 soon. My daughter has a ton of clothes, so if she changes her clothes a lot, she has the consequence of having to put them all away (a good tip for my boys too), she is almost 9. I hate putting clothes away, my clothes usually takes a bit longer to get put away!

  38. says

    I have a laundry bag in the bathroom for colored clothes, and a separate container for whites…Sheets get piled on the washing machine. When the laundry bag gets full, then it’s time to wash! I hang most clothes outdoors, but use the dryer for husband’s dress shirts and similar items that are lightweight. I choose a favorite TV show in the afternoon, and take the clothes off the line during the commercials, folding in between. The ironing board hangs on the door of a closet near the TV and I use that to fold on, or iron quickly as necessary. For the clothes in the dryer, I try to deal with them as I take them out so I don’t have to iron much. The Shaklee company (refer to website) has a product called Nature Bright which I put in with the wash load, but if something is stained, it’s safe to soak it for several days, and then wash it the next wash day…Although it’s just my husband and I now, this system would work for me with more people in the house.

  39. Deanna says

    Someone else may have asked this already, but if you do all the washing on day 1, what do you do with the clean clothes until you start folding on day 2?

    • says

      They sit in their laundry baskets by our backdoor/laundry area until day 2’s laundry period, where the baskets then get brought to our couch/ottoman which is our laundry folding “station.”

  40. marie says

    HOly cow. That’s organized. I couldn’t.

    I have 4 kids (all under 6), they help, my husband helps..and I’m still doing 2 loads a day..thats 12 loads a week…..and I HATE laundry….and we can’t keep up.

    • says

      I don’t because I have never done it. If I owned a home, and had more room, I would look into it more. I think some o her comments talked about what they do with line drying. Hope they might help.

    • Sabriena says

      Sarah, I realize this is a few months later, but here are a few tips for line-drying.

      I line dry most of our clothes any time the weather is nice. (In other words, I rarely use the line in winter. LOL) What I do; I turn all the clothes inside-out as I take them out of the washer (except whites), to help keep them from fading in the sun. I wash things together that will dry at a similar speed, so I can gather the whole load at one time. Hang socks and pants upside down, it helps them dry faster. I hang a lot of our shirts and such, but if they are t-shirts, you definitely don’t want to put them on the hangers while wet, I was having way too many problems with the necklines stretching. My shirts, I either fold halfway over the line before pinning, or fold them in half sidewise and then pin the bottoms to the line (if it is a hot day). The children’s shirts weigh a lot less and don’t have as much problem with stretching. Most of the time, I put the shoulders close to each other to prevent extra strain on the neckline, and hang with two clothespins. Sometimes I hang them upside down, too, though. I will admit that I never hang-dry towels. I hate the scratchy feeling of line-dried towels. I have a friend who uses fabric softener, and her towels are soft, but the fabric softener didn’t seem to work for me. Also, underwear I used to hang by the side so they would take less line-space, but they were stretching out too quickly. So now I hang them from the center part. They seem to be lasting longer. My personal undergarments I hang on a hanger on a rod in my laundry room. I don’t like having them outside where everybody can see them. 🙂

      Hope this helps. I’m not an expert, those are just a few things I’ve learned in the last few years since my husband and I moved to a dry enough climate that line-drying is possible. 🙂 Where we lived before it was so damp, that line-drying was not much of an option. When we first moved into a new home, it had a clothesline that I was excited to use. I hung the first load and within two minutes the posts toppled to the ground. The moisture had rotted them.

  41. Perla says

    Love this.
    Me, I wash my clothes once a week. I separate clothes by fabric and type of clothes. Thin material, cotton, jeans and so on, also by style. I wash t-shirts together, shorts and pants, towels. I do tend to keep whites together to add Oxy Clean. My washer and dryer are downstairs, so what I do is pull up a chair and an empty laundry basket after the dryer is done. Lay my shirts on top of each other on the back rest of the chair, preventing them from getting wrinkled. Fold pants and shorts in half and lay them on the chair seat. If I encounter socks or underwear, they will go into the basket. When I finish that load, I add what I have on the chair seat into a different laundry basket. Grab my shirts from both sides and lay them in half on top of the shorts. Once the next cycle is done, I repeat. After all is washed, I take the baskets upstairs, and put everything away when I can without worrying about the clothes getting wrinkles. I do pair up socks at the end.
    When I’m ready to put everything away, I make piles on my bed for everyone and put clothes away.

  42. Lamia says

    I suspect my family follows the French/European method of clothing management.
    We only wash things if it’s visibly dirty and can’t be spot cleaned. This saves a huge, huge amount of money and time, not just water, detergent, wash/fold/hanging, but also cuts down on the fading/stretching & time spent shopping for replacement clothes.
    Anything that looks clean, and might have a stale smell gets the European-method of treatment. I put the items inside a bag inside the freezer, and/or a shot of Febreeze and hang in the garage or outside.
    We grew up on a farm, same as my parents, and it’s a dirty wonderful world plus they were FRUGAL.
    My parents trained us at a very early age and themselves to only wear play-clothes at home. The minute we came home, we changed clothes, rehung our work/school clothes and put on play clothes. The public never saw the play clothes, so nobody cares how dirty these are, just as long as it wasn’t grossly-stained, dripping mud or scream of body odor. And as we all know now, farm dirt and exposure to bacteria primes babies immune system to not-have as much allergies and asthma.
    Mom dumped our clean clothes in a pile on our beds, if we didn’t get it in the drawers, it was no crime. By age 8, we were taught how to iron, and to pull wrinkle-prone items out of the dryer immediately and either hang or lay flat. To unwrinkle and item you could also throw a wrinkled shirt in the dryer with a damp towel. By 12, we were taught to iron Dad’s work shirts.
    We did play a lot, but only in play clothes or crazy costumes.
    Cleaning Schedule on Other items: Underwear/socks/dishtowels/facial washclothes – clean ones everyday. Sheets/Towels – only if visible dirt showed. If the sheets looked clean, it could be a year or so. There were many other chores to worry about.

  43. Elisabeth says

    My husband and I don’t fold and match socks. They get put into piles by owner and when put in the drawer they go into a short and a long sock pile (we usually only buy the same brand so it saves on sorting through the drawer to find a matching pair). But he also claims that the elastic gets stretched and worn out faster when you fold them over each other. Kind of his pet peeve 🙂

  44. says

    I do laundry weekly, I take my basket of clothes from the dryer to the breakfast bar and fold as I watch tv…. your system seems to work for you,,but I could not deal with the wrinkled t-shirts as pictured..as a larger sized woman, wrinkles just makes me look sloppy

  45. Katrina says

    I’m curious about the darks and lights wash! It has always been drilled into me to sort like colors. Does putting all the various colors not really matter? I have a few pairs of jeans that seem like they will bleed for ever so I just wash those together all the time, but my number of loads would seriously decrease if I did lights and darks!

  46. says

    Question, on day one, when you remove clothes from the dryer, do you just throw them in a pile until day 2, or folding day? What about wrinkles, I love the idea of this method, just want to get it down! 🙂

    • says

      Our clothes are probably a little wrinkly, but after you hang them up, most wrinkles work themselves out just fine. But we aren’t picky. So, yes, we just throw them back in the laundry baskets, and make sure no small children climb in on top of them and squish them and leave really big wrinkles (and dirt) on them. 🙂

  47. Ann says

    My shortcut is my kids have different brands and color schemes of underwear and socks. Makes it super simple to quickly identify who’s is who’s.

  48. Mandy says

    Hanging shirts never seem to get past the rocker in my bedroom so I hung a shower curtain rod above the washer and dryer and as soon as my hanging clothes come out of dryer they’re hung up, this helps keep the wrinkles at bay! They then get carried to my closet and next hamper brought back to start next washer load. My son’s clothes tend to stay hung in laundry room a bit longer but are wrinkle free and hung none the less!

    • says

      Ha. Yeah, I think laundry facilities should be on the same level of the house that your clothes are stored! Having the trek them upstairs is just another hurdle to actually putting them away! Ha. But, yes, hanging them in the laundry area can totally work. Great tip! Thanks for sharing.

  49. tvland says

    I separate by drying time. I wash laundry by hamper so one day I do and put away mine, another day my son’s, another day my daughter’s etc. If I need to combine loads my son and husband get combined and my daughter’s and mine. Generally if she has something that doesn’t get dried I put it in with mine so it stands out. Definitely have those kids help put away! I deliver everybody’s clean clothes in a basket on their beds with things to be hung neatly laid across the top. It is their responsibility to get it put away.

  50. Jenna says

    So, you just have piles of clean clothes lying all over for a day and letting them get all wrinkly. I don’t have “nice” clothes as you keep claiming you don’t but a t-shirt will be super wrinkly if you leave it in a basket or pile for a day before folding or hanging. Plus with kids and pets I can’t imagine how much of our clothing would end up spread all over and need to be washed again because someone knocked it onto the floor. It seems much easier to just do one or two loads a day, fold, and put away and always have them discreetly tucked away in bedrooms, closets, laundry room than have one day a week where my living room is over taken by unfolded laundry. If you just do one or two loads a day you’re not wasting three whole days doing laundry.

    • j samuels says

      I grew up in an apartment house. Laundry room was in the scary, creepy basement of our building. Mom took us with her for ‘protection’, she thought less likely to bother a woman AND children. Her philosophy was fold while still hot. She would dump still hot clothes on the couch while my sister and I were watching TV there. Hot snaps and zippers were not our favorite, but we quickly learned to snap and fold to avoid wrinkles…it worked! Clothes to be ironed (yes, some required ironing in the ‘olden days’) were sprinkled with water, wrapped in plastic and placed in the refrigerator to distribute the moisture and be easier to iron during the next few days. We learned very early to iron our father’s handkerchiefs as practice for the real clothes.

      Fast forward many years…..I got tired of washing bathing suits 3x a week in the winter when my daughter wasn’t swimming! She would put clean folded clothes and dirty clothes in same basket. I quit doing her laundry when her already folded socks came out of the dryer. At eight she was taught how to do laundry, full basket/empty drawer means time to wash. I took care of new jeans, red items and anything that might ruin a load. Your favorite pink shirt is dirty? Too bad, you should have done a load of laundry and taken care of it. Responsibility for own items, clothing, books, assignments is good preparation for the real world where Momma can’t rescue you. You raise children to become responsible, competent adults, not to keep them dependent children forever.

      Now I always hang wet shirts & knitted items to avoid extra wrinkling, shrinkage and color fading in the dryer. Bras are washed in a net bag and hung to dry to save wear & tear. I only iron when everything I want to wear needs it. I don’t have time to iron one item the morning I need it.

      Landry should not be the highlight of our week. We’re more important and interesting women than that!

  51. Kara says

    Some good tips, but would never work for my family. We’ve got 9 and there’s just no possible way to get all the laundry washed in just one day, unless I had 2 sets of washer/dryers (I wish!). Plus the laundry piles up so quickly that if I didn’t wash any for 6 days it would take over the house lol. What I do is try to do at least 2 loads a day. Our laundry room is right by the family room, so I bring out the basket of clean laundry and stand behind the couch (so I can watch TV easier) and fold the clothes into piles on the back of the couch. When I’m done I have the older kids get their piles to put away and I put the rest away. I hang all of my and my husbands pants and shirts so I just grab our pile and stand in the closet and hang them. I don’t really fold the kids clothes well either, cuz they never stay folded, I just shake them out and pile them nicely.

  52. says

    I really do feel like I am always drowning in laundry in the house. I will try these great tips you gave. Right before the summer time so I will be able to enjoy the days as well. Thanks for sharing!

  53. Cat says

    So…I’m a litle lost.

    After you’ve dried clothes on day one, they just sit in the basket until you fold them on day two? Don’t they get wrinkly? I’ve “tried” to fold clothes as soon as they come out of the dryer. I don’t carry them to another room or let them sit. This was drilled into me by my mom – save steps by doing all the folding as soon as it’s dry.

    I keep laundry baskets for each fam member and “sort” into their baskets right after drying and folding – then they go straight to their rooms. I’d imagine with three younguns you got your laundry washin’ down to an exact science.

  54. Jackie says

    My secret tip for keeping garments white is to use oxyclean and your detergent of choice. I have some that are about eight years old that are still almost as white as the new ones that I just bought last week. Plus never bleach any white material that has any polester/cotton or synthetic fabric. It has actually been dyed white as these fabrics are naturally grayish.

  55. says

    Just found your awesome article via Pinterest, I loved seeing how close this was to my own routine and also getting some tips on ways to speed up what I do now. I wanted to share a few things that I do to save time (these ideas may have already been shared as there are tons of comments on here already!)
    1) I have special “put away buckets” for my kids, these are used to gather up all their belonging that have migrated to the livingroon and move them back up to bedrooms. On folding days the stuff being moved is Laundry! After I fold and stack by person/type I put the clean clothes in the buckets, socks and undies on the bottom, bottoms then tops and finally any hanging (usually dresses.) I bring the bins upstairs and put them in my kids doorways – they already know that anything in the bucket needs to get put away ASAP whether it’s clothes or other belongings. Then at the end of the day I grab their baskets and reset them back to the main floor.
    2) at 8yo my son loves to optimize to make everything faster! To that end he’s started taking his clean clothes and creating outfits that he then rolls up in the top (top, pants, socks, undies, then roll so top is on the outside) He makes sure the top and bottom match when he makes his outfits then he just has to look for the shirt he wants in the AM and he can get dressed in a snap.This technique also keeps his drawers nice and tidy.
    3) I don’t fold ANYTHING for my husband and I! We have a large walk in closet and i hang everything – my husband has a few shirts he prefers to fold so he folds them himself instead of hanging them from his flat pile. I do sort clothes into tops, bottoms, dresses, undies/socks as i’m “folding” so that as I hang everything goes in their right section of the closet (all tops together etc)

    Hope these tips help some of the others out there who are dealing with mountains of laundry too!

  56. Terry Key says

    I live in the UK where we don’t always have the same laundry products available to us as our cousins in the US. My daughter and I have skin sensitivities so I only use Ecover which is a ‘green’ detergent with no added bleachers or straighteners that cause skin reactions. I only use oxyclean for stain removal very sparingly and always double rinse afterwards.I wash the bulk of laundry on 40 or 30 degrees C. Modern detergents don’t need higher temps and it’s gentler on your clothes.
    Laundry sorting was a constant irritation until I bought 4 large plastic stacking bins with tilted flap fronts (we got ours from Ikea). I labelled them for whites, pastels, bright colours and darks. These were stacked on the area outside our bedrooms and each morning when leaving our bedrooms we would put dirty laundry in the appropriate bins. This meant that I could see as soon as there was enough in a bin for a washload and deal with it.
    I too rarely iron except for special occasions. I tumble dry mostly towels, bedding and underwear as I find tumble drying is most responsible for shrinking clothes. In summer (when we actually get one that is) I line dry outside, shaking wrinkles out as I peg out. In winter we have washing lines hung in our conservatory with enough space for about 4 loads. Even in winter the sun warms this room considerably on bright days and we use a dehumidifier/ dehydrator to collect the moisture and find this dries the bulk of washing in a day. This is also useful if we are out for the day – no worrying about rain while we’re out. The running costs of the dehumidifier are actually less than 1 load in the tumbler dryer, the clothes dry without wrinkles, 4 loads all dry at once and don’t shrink.

  57. says

    Hello from Munich, Germany!

    Thanks for your hints! But I wonder whether you put everything in the dryer! I’m so glad, that spring is starting here now and I can hang my wet clothes in the garden. I have a dryer, but I prefer to use it only for cotton fabrics, towels, shirts … Underwear, stockings, microfibre never come in the dryer!

  58. Eliani Berman says

    I’m glad it works for you . We should all devise a system that works for ourselves. Pick and borrow from other peoples ideas.
    I could not stand the wrinkles or 3 days of fiddling with the same laundry pile. What if life gets in the way. That basket of unfolded laundry could sit there for days. No thanks.
    .
    My mom had rules and a system.
    Day 1 : LINENS DAY. Sheets and towels. Washed and folded.
    Day 2: WHITES DAY. Linens are put away. Whites are washed and folded.
    Day 3: COLORS DAY .Whites are put away. Colors are washed. Most are dried in dryer and folded same day. The good stuff put shaken out well when wet and put on hangers or drying rack.
    Day 4. Colors are put away.
    I like this system because if anything happens in between at least there is only one “category” to be put away.

    THE COMMANDMENTS OF LAUNDRY:
    DO NOT CREATE NEEDLESS LAUNDRY.
    #1 if an item has been worn but it smells clean and looks clean. It IS clean. Hang it up.
    #2 If an item smells clean, looks clean but is slightly stretched out. Spritz with water and put in dryer for a low heat tumble.
    #3 If an item smells clean, looks clean, but has a small spot. Treat the spot only. Don’t launder an entire skirt because there is a little coffee spot.
    #4 Change pillow cases more often than sheets. Sheets don’t soil at the same rate as pillow cases. Perhaps you can do linens every other week instead of every week.

      • Eliani Berman says

        I retract the Commandments in your case. Impossible to teach to little’uns. I remember those from my teen years.

        Here’s another lovely rule Mom had. At any given time she would go into our room. Any clothing she deemed was carelessly discarded such as on the floor was subject to confiscation. Mom would say that it was disrespectful to her to be so uncaring when she would deprive herself of things so we would not have to do without. Funny thing about the “confiscation raids” We never figure out how or why we got an item back. It would just one day appear washed and folded on the bed.

        Around age 15 I was in a sloppy state of mind.So many items where confiscated that I had to wear the same jeans to school for over a week. She eventually took mercy on me and gave clothes back. Gotta love the tough (fair)love.

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