Laundry. Easily one of the most loved or most hated, chores in the home. You either think it’s loads of fun (see what I did there?) or know it as the daunting task that eats away at your Saturday morning. I’ll be honest it used to drive me crazy too, but after spending years in the cleaning game, I’ve finally got a routine that makes laundry one of the easier tasks in my home. So, for those of you that dread laundry day, here are my favorite laundry tips—the things that have really helped make my laundry routine easy-peasy. Hopefully, you can implement a few of these tips and make your laundry routine a little easier too.
Preparation is Half the Battle!
Preparing is literally half the battle when it comes to laundry. If you plan your laundry day out, it will become that much more efficient—fewer steps means less time spent. You’re probably thinking: ‘how do you prepare to do laundry?’ The answer is broken into two keys steps: schedule and organize.
It’s much easier to get through a task if you allot a specific day and time to do it. On average, a single wash and dry cycle will take between 1-1.5 hours from start to finish. Multiply the number of loads you have to do by the time it takes to do it and you’ll have an idea of the time you’ll need 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.
There’s nothing worse than having a floor full of clothes or standing in front of the washing machine only to discover you’re out of it. Keep a shelf or cart in your laundry room to organize everything you’ll need to do laundry (detergent, dish soap, vinegar, etc). Ideally, keep it within arm’s reach to avoid wasting time or misplacing products. If you’re organized, you’ll also be able to keep track of the products you’re running low on and be able to effectively 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’s nothing worse than realizing your favorite white shirt is now tie-dyed because someone mixed in colors with the whites! To prevent 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, turn them inside out. This will help prevent color transfer and keep your clothes looking new.
Always Read the Label!
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. If you follow these steps the days of bras hooked on t-shirts, or time spent investigating the case of the missing sock, will be gone!
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.
Give your clothes a fighting chance and use a little dish soap and water to deal with some of the toughest food stains—think tomato sauce, blueberries, curries, and grease. After blotting up the stain, apply a quarter-sized squirt of dish soap directly onto any cotton or polycotton fabric (avoid using it on delicate fabrics like silk), covering the entire stained area, and rub it in using your finger. Remember, you always want to spot test on a small area to make sure the material won’t be damaged. Then, ideally, launder as soon as possible.
For delicate fabrics or difficult stains, oxygen bleach is a staple in our stain removing arsenal. It’s 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 have a certain unwanted smell, you can 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!
Maximize Your Loads
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—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 effort.
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. 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. That being said, try not to overload the dryer, it needs room to tumble so as to reduce wrinkles and dry completely. As a bonus tip, I like to add in dryer balls to help increase efficiency as well as beat out static cling.
Make sure you always read the labels—some items may need to skip the dryer. Other garments will need to be dried on low (or fluff) instead of high heat. For bulkier items like bedding, you can, once again, try adding dryer balls to help move items around better as they dry.
Putting It All Away
Always remember to remove clothes from the dryer as soon as possible to prevent wrinkles and either fold or hang them up immediately.
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 items from the dryer and sorts them, while another folds and places them in the right person’s basket or 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 an average week.
Believe it or not, laundry machines need a little love 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, wipe it down after each use (along with the gasket on front load machines), and leave the door open to air dry when not in use—this will help prevent odor-causing mold and mildew from forming.
Once a month, it’s suggested to perform minor 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 a mildew stench forming, perform a tub cleanse using vinegar. Set your washer to the hottest temperature 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!