Ah, the laundry routine.
Everyone has their own unique laundry routine based on their physical space (both closet and drawer space as well as access to laundry machines), their needs, their time and their opinion of what ‘clean clothes’ means. Whatever your laundry routine consists of, the important thing is that we each have a routine so that laundry indeed gets done. If you can’t quite ace your laundry situation, I’ll share my laundry routine and best practices with you and give you some tips on how you can design your own great routine (that will work for you!).
Check out my post on Three Simple Tricks to Doing Less Laundry!
Here’s a great post on how to Optimize your laundry routine!
My laundry routine
1. Keeping things separate; get a tri-sorter.
My laundry routine starts with a tri–sorter – I love these because they keep all my garments separate before I even get to the machine – that makes it easy for me to grab a load and go. This one I linked to (it’s Amazon, and we get a few pennies each time you make a purchase, so thanks!) has removable compartments so you can just grab the compartment and walk over to your laundry machine. No need for a laundry basket!
I keep mine in my washroom, and after I change or take off clothes, I place the worn garment in the appropriate coloured compartment (lights, colours, darks) and off I go. Anything which is still clean gets hung up or folded and put away (on most days, I’m not perfect!). Keeping on top of processing clothing as yo go is key to the system working for you, otherwise bottlenecks occur.
Even for those with small spaces, this makes sense because it is easier to have this system than to pile everything into a laundry basket, have to sort it on laundry day and carry a laundry basket around. Three cheers for efficiency!
2. When do I do my laundry, and how do I weave it into my schedule?
2a. In the morning – putting the load in the wash
On laundry days, here’s how things go down. I wake up and saunter into my bathroom (it’s been 8 hours, hello!). Before I walk out to head downstairs and make my smoothie, I grab the largest load in my tri-sorter and walk it down an extra flight of stairs to my basement. I put the load through, then walk back up to the kitchen and make breakfast.
2b. Before I leave the house – putting the load in the dryer or hanging to dry
Thankfully (perhaps…), my machine has the loudest ‘I’m finished!’ song ever–seriously, you can hear it two floors up with the TV on, so I know when I’ve got to head back down to the basement and change the load over (extra cardio!). For my machine to do an average wash cycle takes about 30 minutes or so, which is enough time for me to get through a good part of my morning routine. By the time it sings its sweet little song, all I need to do is take about 3 minutes and change the load over before carrying on with my morning to-do’s. This means taking garments out and deciding if they get machine dried or hung, giving each garment a snap or two to help reduce wrinkles and shake off cat hair, and set the machine to go.
Some dryers have cycles (usually called wrinkle guard or something along those lines) which go on intermittently during the day to help add heat and movement to the load which keeps garments active to reduce wrinkling. If the load is important to you, go for it, otherwise I’d say to save the energy. I have this feature and rarely use it.
So far, we’ve got our load washed and in the dryer and I haven’t even checked email yet!
2c. Back from work
When I come home from the office, I’ve got a few things to do, sure. But after hanging up my coat and putting my day’s stuff away, I’ll grab that load of laundry and quickly put it away before I get started on dinner. It takes under 5 minutes to do (it takes way longer when it builds up for weeks at a time, I know from experience). Again, doesn’t always happen (nails, Netflix, wine, phone call, etc.) but this is the ideal set up and I am thrilled when I execute this as described. Regardless of interruptions, I try to have it done before I go to bed, that way I know I’ve got a laundry room zero situation and nothing is waiting to haunt me the next day.
2d. And if all else fails…
Last night, for example, I didn’t have the opportunity to do laundry as soon as I got in, so I told Chad that before bed I needed to fold and put my clothing away. We were on a mad Netflix bender and he stopped our third episode from auto-playing and said, ‘I think we need to stop here, you have some laundry to do’! Added benefit to folding before bed: folding laundry is so utterly boring that I bet it will help put you to sleep!
How many loads a week is reasonable?
Good question, and it depends on you. For me, I average three personal loads: lights, colours, darks every week or two and three family loads of household items: towels, cleaning cloths/tea towels and linens. I am a firm believer in separating loads by colour and garment type, but this may not matter to you (less loads!).
Now quick note here, if I had kids, I’d likely need to do at least twice that. The good part about this schedule is, it lets you scale up or down as needed to suit your lifestyle so you could do a load a day if you needed! You can also switch it up and add a load to the wash before bed and change it out the next morning (assuming you don’t mind wrinkles).
Laundering family items (towels, cleaning cloths and linens)
Since linens are used for 30% of our day and make close contact with our hot, sweaty, oily, shedding bodies, we’ve decided to wash ours weekly. We wash bedding as needed. Just follow the care label of the specific bedding you have!
Cleaning cloths and tea towels
I’m a fan of using really clean tea towels and kitchen rags so these get changed out every other day or so. Cleaning cloths are a one-use item in our house. Once they have dried after use, I toss them in a bucket in the basement by the washing machine and when the bucket gets full, it gets washed.
Towels and washcloths
I’ve read that Martha Stewart changes out her bath towel daily. For the rest of us, I am happy with changing out my towel and washcloth once or twice per week. If the towel or washcloth is dried properly, it won’t get that musty smell and is fine for use. Once a week, I’ll collect the towels in all bathrooms and give them a good wash. I like to wash towels on a hot water setting and a feature I love about my dryer is the moisture sensor. My dryer stops the cycle as soon as no more moisture is sensed, even when something as complicated as a load of towels is tumbling around. Hooray for saving energy!
I hope this has helped you craft ideas for your own laundry routine, let me know what you’re planning to do and how it’s working for you!