Cleaning | Family Organizing
How To Keep up on Laundry: 15 Sanity-Saving Shortcuts
Who I am is a Southern California turned small-town, Midwest Mom. I am wife to Bruce and mom to my three girls.
Back when I first started my professional organizing journey in 2013, I had what I thought of as a dirty little secret. I have ADHD and although I am organized, and enjoy the process of sorting, and tidying. I knew that there were many others with ADHD who really struggled with staying organized. I had a case of imposter syndrome and mostly kept the fact that I had ADHD to myself. That is until I learned that there are other really successful professional organizers who have also learned to compensate for their ADHD the same way that I have.
I eventually realized that my need for order and simplicity actually stems from having ADHD as a way to compensate for my short attention span. So my gifts and my challenges are all ironically tied together to create who I am, and I am able to relate to and help others as a result of this coping method that I have developed for myself.
I help women and moms with ADHD, but I also help those who struggle with clutter without having ADHD. Because simplicity and less clutter are always at the heart of staying organized, there is much overlap when it comes to finding solutions to clutter and disorganization.
I am dedicated to keeping my life as simple as possible and to helping others do the same by teaching them how to declutter their homes, simplify their lives, and manage their busy families better.
I have been helping others stay organized since 2013.
It is my deepest hope that you will find resources here that will bring you closer to living a simpler, more intentional, and more peaceful life.
in your space…
…but let it be
as a daisy
in a vase.
15 Sanity-saving shortcuts to help you keep up on laundry:
Laundry can sometimes feel like a never-ending chore, especially for those with busy lives and large families. Just as soon as you put the last of it in your drawers, it’s time to start over again…ugh.
I decided I needed to write this post because laundry is a huge pain point for so many of my organizing clients. The struggle with how to keep up with laundry is real. If you dread doing laundry and feel like you can’t ever manage to get it all done, then this post is for you.
How To Keep Up on Laundry:
1. The less clothing you own, the easier it will be for you to keep up on laundry.
I listed this tip first because the #1 thing you can do to make doing laundry easier for yourself… is to own less clothing.
A smaller wardrobe means less laundry. This may not make sense at first, since we can only change outfits so many times each week. What I have discovered over the years is that those clients who struggle the most with keeping up with the laundry also happen be the ones to own a large amount of clothing in the first place.
There is an unconscious cycle that takes place here. If we can afford to put off doing laundry without running out of clothing…then we do. The problem with this is that once you’re behind, it is so much more work just to catch up again. Once this happens, you risk becoming overwhelmed with it all and giving up altogether.
Having less clothing requires us to keep up, and it is always easier to keep up on the laundry than to have to catch up.
It’s also helpful to keep in mind that there are other benefits to have less clothing as well, like having a more functional and organized closet.
2. Find your rhythm and stick to that routine.
One of the most effective ways to stay on top of the laundry is to establish a regular schedule. For me, I like to only have to think about doing laundry one or two days a week. I wash my laundry on Sundays. If I am home most of the day, I fold it on this day too, and put clothing away on Monday. But if we have something going on Sunday, I will just get it all washed and then fold it on Monday morning. Either way, by Monday evening, everything is done. I give myself some built-in flexibility, but I never abandon my schedule altogether.
For me, I know that if I don’t get my laundry done on Sunday and Monday, its not going to get done that week at all because I am not in the habit of thinking about it on any other days of the week. I have created this routine for myself and it works for me.
By the way…If you can’t fold before wrinkles set in, toss a wet towel into the dryer and let it run for 10 minutes. Presto…no more wrinkles! I do this all of the time because I can never manage to fold my clothing right when it comes out of the dryer.
3. Try designating a laundry day.
If you feel like you are forever doing laundry every day but can’t keep up, try designating one or two days a week like I do. Declare them your laundry days and make it your goal to get ALL the laundry done on these days. When your’e done, you won’t have to think about doing laundry for the rest of the week. Yay! No more guilt about not doing laundry every day!
Once you get in the rhythm of having a designated laundry day, you will have created a routine…a system that serves you and keeps you going with less mental effort. Once this becomes your habit it will become automatic and you won’t have to work so hard to motivate yourself to do it. That’s the magic of routines.
4. How to keep up on laundry by doing one load a day, every day instead.
We are all wired differently and what works for one may not work for another. My friend Sherri does her laundry different than I do. She does one load a day, everyday, and that works for her. If you find your rhythm by doing one load every morning and folding and putting it away each evening, then lean into that. The key is to find a routine that works for you and then FOLLOW IT CONSISTENTLY so that it becomes an automatic habit that serves you.
5. How to remember to finish the laundry once you’ve started it.
While I normally don’t recommend multitasking due to the stress it causes, folding clothes is the exception because it requires minimal thought. I motivate myself to fold my laundry by talking on the phone or watching television to make the chore less painful.
If you tend to forget to keep your laundering process moving, throughout the day, use a Timer Cube to help you remember. This is especially helpful for those trying to keep up at home with ADHD. You can also set the timer on your stove to go off when it’s time to put a load of laundry into the dryer. If you have an Alexa device, she can help you remember as well.
Try not to let your laundry linger. Having baskets of clean laundry or folded piles sitting around all week, makes your home feel more cluttered. Set a rule for yourself to get it folded by the end of laundry day (or each night depending on your system) so you can happily hand it over to family members to be put away.
6. Use mesh bags for socks and underwear.
Purchase a mesh laundry bag for each family member and use a black permanent marker to initial each bag. Then have each family member get into the habit of placing their soiled socks and underwear into the bags. Once they come out of the dryer, just hand the bags over to each family member to put away.
I love delegating this job because I hate messing with folding socks and underwear. You can pin each mesh bag to each hamper so that family members remember to use them.
7. Don’t waste time switching and folding sheets.
Remove your bed linens, wash them, and immediately put that same set back on the bed once you have washed them. No folding needed. Keep a second set in a nearby closet and only use them for company or emergencies.
8. Wash bath towels weekly instead of after each use.
Bodies are clean when we come out of the shower so why not use a towel a few times before washing? If you want to, assign specific colored towels to each family member and have them use the same one or two towels all week.
9. Simplify the pre-sorting process.
Divide all laundry into only two baskets, darks, and lights. To drastically simplify, don’t sort at all and just wash everything on the cold cycle with cold-temperature detergent. You can also use Shout’s Color Catchers, they are dye-catching sheets that allow you to wash whites and colored clothing together without the colors bleeding together!
10. Don’t wash laundry until it is visibly soiled or smelly.
Kids are notorious for tossing mostly clean clothing into the hamper (at least mine always were). Do the see and smell test, does it still smell fresh? Does it look clean? If so, why bother to wash it? And yes, it’s okay to go ahead and hang it up in the closet… even if it’s been worn briefly…as long as it has passed the see and smell test.
Not only will you save time because you will have less laundry each week, but your clothing will last longer. If I haven’t already given you enough excuses to stop washing your clothing excessively, here’s one more…washing less is also more environmentally friendly, using less water and electricity.
You can also designate a place in your closet to place lightly worn items to wear again before washing. I have one shelf dedicated to these items worn for only for a few hours.
11. To get drastically simple and reduce folding time, eliminate folding young children’s clothing.
With very young children, they have such small-sized clothing, that folding is not always necessary. Simply sort it into piles by category; tops, shorts, pants, etc. Then lay the sorted clothing in dresser drawers, PJs in one drawer, pants in another, etc.
12. Invest in several hampers.
Easily assessable laundry baskets and hampers can make a significant difference in your laundry routine. Place a hamper in every bedroom or bathroom for each family member to make it super easy for everyone to toss laundry into. They might still not use the hampers perfectly, (at least it doesn’t happen in my family) but you’ll increase the odds that they’ll use them most of the time.
13. Pre-treat stains as soon as they happen.
Doing this increases the chances of successful removal. Keep a stain remover or a DIY stain treatment solution on hand and apply it to stains right away. This reduces the need for re-washing clothes and also prevents set-in stains. I use spray on Shout Stain Remover and leave it on until washing day. Doing this removes stains beautifully and does not harm non-delicate fabric.
Extra Tip: Pour a 1/2 cup of vinegar into each load of laundry to remove any stubborn stinky smells.
14. Teach your kiddos how to help.
Share the responsibility of doing laundry with your family members, regardless of their age. Teach your children how to sort, fold, and put away their clothes. Figure out what tasks are age-appropriate and show them step-by-step how to do it. When my girls were very young, before we started using mesh bags, it was their job to match up socks and sort underwear. I delighted in delegating this task because as you might recall…I am not a fan of messing with socks.
Teaching your child how to do a chore properly may take a little time and patience, but it is well worth the effort! This not only lightens your load but also teaches valuable life skills that transfer over into adulthood.
15. What to do if you are behind on laundry and can’t get caught up.
There is no easy way out here dear one, as much as you may be dreading it, I suggest that you dedicate one day to just doing laundry and nothing else until you are 100% DONE. Put a Saturday (if that day works best) on your calendar and declare it a laundry catch-up day. Announce to your family that they will ALL be helping with the laundry that day with no excuses. Refuse to let anything else take priority over this…your sanity depends on it! This day might not be much fun, but you will be surprised at how quickly clothing gets folded and put away with lots of helping hands.
One last step…and this is important…when you are done, reward your family and yourself by celebrating with a treat. Let everyone know you’ll be eating out for dinner or picking up pizza or something comparable if (and only if) the job is done. Because you will all deserve it…and honestly, who wants to do dishes after having to do laundry all day?
Just remember this, when you wake up the morning after and remember that ALL of your laundry is done, it is going to feel soooooo good!!
Once you are caught up, establish a schedule and stick to it. By doing this, and by eliminating the excess clothing, simplifying the steps, and involving your family, you will finally be able to keep up with the laundry without feeling overwhelmed. Say hello to sanity and say goodbye to having to look at dirty piles of laundry sitting around your house!
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