Laundry. Easily one of the most loved or most hated, chores in the home. You either think it’s loads of fun (pun intended) or know it as the daunting task that eats away at your Saturday morning. It used to drive me crazy, but after spending years figuring out this cleaning thing, I’ve finally got a routine down pat that makes doing laundry one of the easiest tasks in my home. So, for those of you that dread laundry day, here’s the broken down, perfected laundry routine you can’t live without!
Prep is Half the Battle!
Preparing is literally half of this battle. If you plan your laundry out, it will become that much more efficient for you to do – less steps means less time spent. You’re probably thinking ‘how do you prepare to do laundry’? Simple! There are two keys steps: schedule and organize.
It’s much easier to get through a task if you allot a specific day and time frame to do it. On average, a single wash and dry cycle takes between 1-1.5 hours from start to finish. Multiply the number of loads you have by the time it takes to do it, and make sure you arrange enough time in a week to get it done. For some, it may require splitting the task over 1-2 days. I do 3 loads a week, and I weave it into my morning routine so that I grab a basket on the way downstairs as I make breakfast and then place the load in the dryer or hang it to dry before I leave for work.
Next up is organizing. There is nothing worse than having a floor full of clothes and being unable to find the detergent (or realizing you’re out of it!). Keep a shelf or cart in your laundry room to organize everything you will need to do laundry (detergent, dish soap, vinegar, etc). Ideally, keep it within an arm’s reach of the washing machine to avoid wasting time or misplacing products. If you’re organized, you’ll also be able to keep track of the products you are running low on and replenish as necessary. Having a garbage can in your laundry room will also be helpful so you have a place to throw away any dryer lint or pocket garbage while sorting. If you use laundry baskets, it’s best to get stackable baskets in the same size to save space and allow for easy storage.
There is nothing worse than realizing your favorite white shirt is now tie-dyed…someone mixed in colors with the whites! To prevent any mishaps, invest in a good hamper (one that has two or three sections for whites/colors/darks) to divide and conquer the pile ahead of you. Not only will it help keep your laundry room floor clean, but it will prepare each load for washing. Request each family member deposit their clothing in the appropriate section to help ease sorting.
As you sort, make sure to empty pockets, unbutton shirts, hook up bras, tie up strings, and for clothing rich in colors (or top-dyed like jeans), turn them inside out. This will help prevent color transfer and keep your clothes looking new.
In the process of sorting your clothes, be sure to read the labels. Put aside any items listed as hand wash, delicate or dry cleaning, since you’ll want to treat these separately. For lingerie, swimwear or socks, mesh bags will be your life saver. Gone will be the days of bras hooked on t-shirts or time spent investigating the case of the missing sock.
The faster you catch a stain, the better chance you have at getting rid of it entirely. Leaving a stained item until laundry day hinders the garment’s chances for a full recovery. Ask family members to pre-treat their own stains as soon as they happen using one of these very simple techniques. Heck, show them one of my videos and I’ll gladly teach them for you!
Give your clothes a fighting chance and use original blue Dawn to deal with some of the toughest food stains, like tomato sauce, blueberries, and grease. After blotting up the stain, apply a quarter-sized squirt of Dawn directly to any cotton or polycotton fabric, covering the entire stained area, and rub it in using your fingers. You’ll want to spot test on a small area to make sure the material won’t be damaged and avoid using it on delicate fabrics like silk. Then, ideally launder as soon as possible. Also, Dawn is a terrific suds-creator so if you’re using a high efficiency (HE) front loader machine, it may increase your wash time. It’s amazing what Dawn can do to food stains, trust me! I have dealt with a fruit smoothie stain, an unfortunate oily splatter from a burger and tomato sauce incident this week alone with the blue stuff. It’s awesome!
For delicate fabrics or difficult stains, oxygen powder is a staple to keep handy. It is safer to use than chlorine bleach and can be used on colors. It’s best to err on the side of caution, so always read the care label and test a small area on the fabric first.
If you’re a fitness buff or find your clothes has a certain unwanted ‘smell’ to it, you can also try pre-treating your clothes in 1 part vinegar to 5 parts water before washing. Don’t worry, your clothes won’t come out smelling like vinegar!
If an item has been pre-treated, then consider doing a load right then and there to help the garment have its best chance at losing that stain, that way you don’t just launder one garment and you…
Maximize Your Washer
It may come as a surprise, but beyond being energy inefficient, smaller loads of laundry don’t get your clothes as clean. Larger loads tend to have more variety in the size and shape of clothing, allowing them to use friction and agitation to their advantage. That being said, don’t overload your washer either, since it will cause adverse effects – your clothes can’t move around and your machine can’t bear the weight. You want your machine to look about 3/4 full and you shouldn’t have to use a broomstick to squeeze everything in before slamming the door shut. Remember, most loads can be done on a normal cycle, but always read and follow care instructions on clothing labels. By using your machine optimally, you can get the most amount of laundry done with the least amount of loads.
Drying Your Clothes
It seems easy to take a pile of clothes and throw it into the dryer, but a few modifications will keep you from breaking out the iron or running a second cycle.
Try shaking out your clothes when you remove them from the washer. Beware: you’ll hear a loud snapping sound when you do this – it’s kind of cool! Now, this will help prevent wrinkles and save drying time.
Load It Up
It’s also best to dry full loads of laundry, as opposed to a few items at a time, as it’s more efficient. Try not to overload the dryer, since it needs room to tumble to reduce wrinkles and dry faster. Add in dryer balls to help increase efficiency of the dry time as well as beat out static cling.
Make sure you always read the labels, since some items may need to skip the dryer, others will need to be dried on low or fluff instead of high. For bulkier items like bedding, you can try adding dryer balls to help move items around better as it dries.
Pro tip: Keep the door closed to prevent heat from escaping and never add wet clothing to a partially dry load.
Putting It All Away
Hang and Fold
Always remember to remove clothes from the dryer as soon as possible to prevent wrinkles and either fold or hang them up.
Organize your baskets by room or family member to make sure it gets to the right person. Determine a delivery system that works best.
Maybe one family member collects the items from the dryer and sorts it for each family member, and another family member folds and places in the right person’s basket, on their bed, etc. However you decide to do it, the biggest time saver will be to share the work load. Delegate tasks to kids or a partner to get clothes folded and put away quickly. With kids, you can make it into a game, like who can pair the most socks in 15 minutes or who can hang their clothes the fastest. The more hands on deck, the less daunting the task will be! Leaving it to one person is not reasonable given how much laundry a family goes through in a week’s time.
Believe it or not, laundry machines need a little loving, too. If you’ve ever been the victim of long drying times or a moldy smelling machine, these tips will benefit you.
Remember to clean the lint trap after each drying cycle. It’s a good idea to vacuum it out monthly to keep it running smoothly and efficiently.
Washing Machine Door
Whether you have a top load or a front load washer, leave the door open when not in use. This will help prevent odor-causing mold and mildew to form.
Once a month, it’s suggested to perform maintenance on your washing machine. For front-loading machines, clean the rubber seals on the door and dispensers as needed. It will help clear up any detergent, hair and other debris that has built up. If you’ve noticed that unwelcome mildew stench forming, perform a tub cleanse using vinegar. Set your washer to the hottest temperature, select extra rinse if that option is available, and add white vinegar to the bleach dispenser to the max fill level (make sure there is absolutely NO bleach in there first). For top-load washers, add 4 cups of white vinegar after setting the washer to the hottest temperature at the highest capacity. Lift the lid to stop the machine once it’s filled and allow it to sit for a few hours before closing to finish the cycle.
Follow these simple and easy tips to help make doing laundry a breeze. With preparation, pre-treating and my pro-tips, you’ll be having loads of fun before you know it! Don’t let laundry be the daunting chore it once was. Here’s to finding the laundry routine you can’t live without and reclaiming your weekends!
What’s your laundry routine, and what’s working, or not working for you? Let me know in the comments! And for more information on other great cleaning hacks around the house with Dawn, visit dawn-dish.com/beyondthesink.
This blog post was done as part of a project I am working on with Dawn, to bring you some fantastic alternative uses for it around the house!