Feel like you never get ahead with your laundry? My super efficient laundry routine for busy women will help you tame that washing pile once and for all.
Laundry is one of those chores which are super important. We’ve all had those situations when we’ve had nothing to wear because everything is either in the washing pile OR we grab it from the closet to discover a big stain on it. When you’re on a tight time-frame, nothing is guaranteed to cause you more stress than searching for clean clothes.
I’ve always been okay at keeping things clean. Keeping them folded and put away- not so much. At one of our previous houses we had a formal lounge. For the five years we lived in that house, we didn’t spend more than a handful of times in that room except to contribute to what we called Mount Vesuvius. Mount Vesuvius was the pile on the couch where all the clean clothes got dumped. That was where they stayed until we pulled out what we needed. My theory was that at least if they were clean, I was winning.
Over the years, however, I’ve developed much better routines for keeping the laundry under control. When I stick to it (because yes, there are times that despite knowing better, I still don’t!), everything flows super well. I can say with confidence that you too will have the same experience if you follow my effective and efficient laundry routine.
And before you read on, I hand wash and iron, and even hang my clothes in color-blocks – just so you’re prepared.
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Step 1 of the super efficient laundry routine: Know your washing
- As with most things, preparation goes a long way for making sure your laundry routine is efficient. So check washing instructions and make sure you follow them! Know what can be washed on a normal cycle, what has to go on a delicate cycle, and what you will need to hand wash.
- Have several mesh laundry bags that you can use for delicate items that can be machine washed, and also tights, underwear and so on.
- Know what you can wash together color wise. My basic rules are to divide clothes washing into three categories: whites and lights, colors, and darks.
- Know how often you need to wash certain items. Socks and briefs get washed after every wear. I usually get two wear out of a dress before I wash it. Sheets we wash once a week.
- Finally, make sure you don’t wash towels with clothing items as this encourages lint. I also wash separately to clothing any rags, tea-towels or microfibers that have had cleaning products on them.
Following these simple guidelines will reduce accidental shrinkage, color runs and bleaching or staining.
Step 2 of the super efficient laundry routine: Assess and treat
- Assess your clothes when you take them off. If they have been worn once and are good for another wear, I hang them in the cupboard with the coat hanger facing the opposite way to the other clothes. When I wear that item for the second time, I take the coat hanger off and put it in the empty clothes hanger section of the wardrobe (told you to be prepared).
- Take your dirty clothes to the laundry immediately. I find multiple laundry hampers just give more places for dirty clothes to live.
- Always treat stains immediately, particularly if they are oil-based. I use Shout gel for most stains. It has plastic bristles so you can really rub it unto the stains. It’s so effective, when my son was playing cricket, it would get the grass stains out of his cricket whites.
- Soak blood-stained items in cold water until you are ready to deal with them. I leave these until I have time in the weekend, though I will change the water every couple of days.
Step 3 of the super efficient laundry routine: Get down to daily business
- Do a load of washing every day, even if it’s a small load. This load should generally be clothes. Make sure you separate the load according to the rules in Step 1.
The key is to do this at the right time. For example, if you put on a load before you go to work in the morning, then it’s going to be sitting there until you get home, IF you remember it when you get home. If you do it at night, that’s fine, but make sure you have time to put it in the dryer before you go to sleep, or, if need to be line-dried, that you have time to hang it out in the morning.
I find the best time to put on a load is when we get home from work, as we generally get changed into more comfortable clothes then. If the laundry is done then, you can dry it after dinner.
- If you are using a drying rack inside, and if the weight of the wet item won’t stretch it, then I hang up the item on a clothes hanger. I find this reduces a large amount of wrinkles (many of my dresses don’t need ironing if I do this), and you can also take the item straight to the wardrobe once it’s dry.
- When the laundry is dry, put it into one of three baskets. Basket 1 is for ironing. Basket 2 is for everything else, except socks, which go into smaller Basket 3. Now to be more efficient, I put on the day’s load and then deal with the previous day’s dry clothes in the same block of time. Also, my husband and I take turns doing this chore depending on who is cooking dinner- so one person is cooking, and the other one is washing Load 2 and putting away Load 1. Do Basket 2 and then sit down and sort the socks from Basket 3. Leave Basket 1 until the weekend. The exception to this is when you’re using the dryer, as you can cut down on a lot of wrinkles by folding clothes when they are still warm.
Step 4 of the super efficient laundry routine: Work the weekend chores
- Wash your towels once a week. Because there’s a few laundry chores in the weekend, if I can get these washed and dried on a Friday after work, then I feel like I’ve gotten to a good start.
- Wash your sheets. If I strip the bed on a Friday morning before work and quickly change the sheets, I also find that to be a great head start, but I don’t sweat that too much.
- Catch up on a Saturday. Even with the daily load, you will still have a couple to get through on Saturday, depending on the size of your family. Our normal cycle takes 45 minutes, so I use the top of the hour to put on another load. One of us takes charge of the Saturday catch up and we keep going until they are done. It’s important to do this on Saturday if you can, so everything can get dried and sorted the next day. I don’t tackle folding and putting away on this day.
- Do your hand-washing at a set time. We do the housework on a Saturday morning, so once that’s done, I usually hand wash anything that needs this special treatment. This is also when I deal with any items that need soaking in Vanish Napisan Oxi Action, which I’ve used since the kids were in cloth diapers, to keep them white and bright, or to get rid of underarm stains.
- Iron on a Sunday. I iron in one or two 40 minute blocks on a Sunday afternoon, starting at 3pm. The reason for the 40 minute blocks is this is my time to watch Grey’s Anatomy! I don’t iron beyond then, and I do five items for each person in the house at a time, so they have enough for the following week. This is also the time I put everything else away that was washed yesterday.
These tasks feature in Simple weekly tasks that keep your home under control – and you can download a checklist to help you tick them off at the bottom of that post!
Laundry can seem like the never-ending beast, but like most things, if you develop a system to deal with it, you can make it 1000 times more manageable.
What are your most successful laundry hacks?